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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

September 19, 2017


Governor Brown Signs Expenditure Bills Allocating Cap and Trade Auction Revenues and other Budget Spending

Bills Include a Substantial Funding Commitment for Agriculture to Reduce Emissions

California State Capitol

California State Capitol

On September 16, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation into law directing approximately $1.5 billion in expenditures generated from cap and trade auction revenues, including funding for agriculture, in addition to other budget spending. The funds, primarily allocated in the form of grants, loans and rebates, will allow agriculture to leverage cap and trade dollars to reduce greenhouse gases, as well as lower emissions from mobile sources such as tractors, harvesters, heavy-duty trucks and other ag equipment.

Ag Council participated in the discussions, along with others in agriculture, when the funding was negotiated and is pleased with the governor’s commitment of $300 million to the agricultural community in the expenditure plan.

Agricultural Funding Allocations

The legislation, AB 109 and AB 134, allocates the following financial incentives from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to the agricultural sector:

  • $60 million through the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission for food processors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
  • $6 million via the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission for renewable energy projects in the agricultural sector, and
  • $99 million to the California Department of Food and Agriculture for dairy digester research and development and alternative manure management.

Significant investments in funding are provided in AB 109 and AB 134 to achieve emissions reductions from mobile sources and other ag equipment through programs at the Air Resources Board:

  • $35 million from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund to lower agricultural sector emissions through grants, rebates and other financial incentives for agricultural harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, agricultural pump engines, tractors, and other ag equipment,
  • $15 million from the Air Quality Improvement Fund to reduce agricultural sector emissions by providing grants, rebates and other financial incentives for agricultural harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, agricultural pump engines, tractors, and other ag equipment, and
  • $85 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to lower agricultural sector emissions by providing grants, rebates and other financial incentives for agricultural harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, agricultural pump engines, tractors, and other ag equipment.

The bills containing funding for agriculture, AB 109 and AB 134, passed the Legislature on September 15 and were signed into law by the governor on September 16. Ag Council will keep our members apprised as the funding becomes available to farmers, producers and food processors.

Legislature Adjourns for 2017 After Approving Sweeping Legislation on Major Policy Issues

The California State Legislature adjourned in the early morning hours of September 16 after a flurry of end-of-session activity on issues ranging from housing to sanctuary state legislation to a parks/water bond.

Sanctuary State Bill

Among the major statewide policy issues addressed, the Legislature approved SB 54 (de Leon) known as the sanctuary state measure. SB 54 prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using funding or personnel resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest people for immigration purposes with limited exceptions. SB 54 was approved by the Legislature on the last day of session and awaits Governor Brown’s consideration.

Affordable Housing Package

The Legislature passed sweeping housing package including: 1) SB 2 (Atkins) a $75 fee on real estate transactions to go toward affordable housing, 2) SB 3 (Beall) a $4 billion housing bond to be placed on the November 2018 ballot to fund housing assistance programs, and 3) SB 35 (Wiener) to streamline the approval process for new housing of all types by eliminating environmental and planning reviews for some projects. Governor Brown negotiated the housing package with Democrat leaders in the Legislature, and it is anticipated he will sign the bills soon.

Parks and Water Bond

SB 5 (de Leon), the Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act is a $4 billion bond measure subject to voter approval in the June 2018 election.

Among the provisions, SB 5 seeks to address a backlog of maintenance in California’s 280-unit park system and emphasizes funding for park-poor areas and disadvantaged communities. SB 5 also contains $18 million for county fairgrounds, $20 million for the Statewide Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), and $10 million for the healthy soils program. The measure contains some funds for safe drinking water at $250 million and $130 million for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation. The Legislature approved SB 5 on the last day of session, and the bill is pending Governor Brown’s review.

The Fate of Hundreds of Measures Decided Upon at the End of the 2017 Legislative Session 

Ag Council’s Buy American Bill is Among the Bills Approved by the Legislature

Ag Council was engaged in many critical policy issues during the end of the legislative session. Read on for an overview of bills considered at the end of session, Ag Council’s position, and the status of those measures (note: this is not a comprehensive list of all measures passed). As always, please contact Ag Council at (916) 443-4887 with any questions about the bills.

Buy American Requirement

SB 730 (Pan)

Ag Council sponsored SB 730 to establish steps for California to monitor compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs. SB 730 ensures school children consume food of the highest quality and safety, supports locally grown products and benefits our economy.  Special thanks to Dr. Pan for authoring SB 730 and for his work to move it effectively through the legislative process.

POSITION: Ag Council supports SB 730 and is the sponsor of the bill.

STATUS: The measure was unanimously approved by the Legislature and is pending Governor Brown’s review.

Energy

SB 100 (de Leon)

The bill mandates that California establish a 50 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. Ag Council is concerned a new renewable generation mandate will lead to electric rate cost impacts for our members. It is not known whether the renewable targets in SB 100 could be reached without rate increases that significantly impact agriculture and food processing.

POSITION: Ag Council opposed SB 100, along with a coalition of organizations.

STATUS: The bill stalled at the end of the legislative session.

Environment

SB 49 (de Leon)

This measure establishes that existing federal air, climate, water, labor, and endangered species regulations are enforceable under state law. The bill intends to maintain current regulations despite any future changes by President Donald Trump. SB 49 requires specific state agencies to enforce California standards to be as stringent as the baseline today to protect against any weakening by the federal government.

POSITION: Ag Council worked with an ag and business coalition to help stop SB 49.

STATUS: The measure stalled in the Assembly at the end of the legislative session after a strong advocacy effort against the bill.

Food & Beverages – School Sales

AB 841 (Weber)

AB 841 restricts foods and beverages sold in schools during the school day by prohibiting certain advertising including logos and company names, unless the foods and beverages meet the nutrition standards set for schools. The measure also prevents schools from participating in a corporate incentive program that rewards pupils with free or discounted foods or beverages that do not comply with nutrition standards when students reach specific academic goals.

POSITION: With the amendments adopted to limit the scope of AB 841, Ag Council removed opposition to AB 841 before it moved to the governor’s desk.

STATUS: AB 841 passed the Legislature and is awaiting consideration on Governor Brown’s desk.

Labor

SB 63 (Jackson)

This measure mandates a new maternity/paternity leave policy on businesses and exposes businesses to litigation. SB 63 allows those working for a business with 20 more employees within a 75-mile radius, who meet specific criteria, to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child. SB 63 is an inflexible bill that creates a seven month protected leave of absence for certain employees when combined with other leave and subjects employers to more liability.

POSITION: Ag Council opposed SB 63 and is requesting a veto.

STATUS: SB 63 passed the Legislature and is awaiting Governor Brown’s review.

AB 450 (Chiu)

The bill prohibits an employer from providing a federal immigration enforcement agent access to a worksite without a properly executed warrant, with limited exceptions. Unless mandated under federal law, AB 450 also prohibits employers from voluntarily consenting to an immigration enforcement agent to access, review, or obtain employee records without a subpoena or court order, with limited exceptions. Ag Council and many other business and agricultural groups moved from opposition to “no position” once the bill author removed punitive civil liability language against employers from the bill and also removed the provision requiring the employer to notify the Labor Commission of a federal immigration worksite enforcement action, among other amendments.

POSITION: Ag Council and others removed opposition due to amendments to address policy concerns in the bill.

STATUS: Approved by the Legislature and pending Governor Brown’s consideration.

AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher)

AB 1209 imposes a data collection requirement onto employers to collect and report data to the state pertaining to the mean and median salaries of men and women with the same job   Then, the bill requires the information be publicly posted onto a website. The purpose of this measure is to publicly shame employers for wage disparities.

POSITION: Ag Council opposes AB 1209 and is seeking a veto.

STATUS: AB 1209 passed the Legislature and is awaiting Governor Brown’s consideration.

Occupational Health & Safety

SB 772 (Leyva)

This measure exempts Cal/OSHA from Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (SRIA) because proponents believe the process is duplicative and hinders workplace safety. Currently, California law requires state agencies, such as Cal/OSHA, to conduct a SRIA when a proposed regulation results in an economic impact of $50 million or more.  SRIA helps to fully analyze a proposed rule’s economic impact and promotes efficiency. SB 772 reduces accountability and leads to less transparency.

POSITION: Ag Council opposed SB 772.

STATUS: SB 772 stalled in the Assembly due to strong opposition from many ag and business groups.

Water

SB 623 (Monning)

SB 623 establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund within the State Water Resources Control Board to assist those without access to safe and affordable drinking water through grants, loans, contracts or services. Given a solution for disadvantaged communities is needed to help ensure families have clean drinking water, including rural and agricultural areas, Ag Council participated in stakeholder discussions to address drinking water issues and helped develop SB 623.

POSITION: Ag Council supports SB 623.

STATUS: The bill is in the Assembly Rules Committee and will be considered again in 2018.

AB 313 (Gray)

The measure restructures the administration and enforcement of water rights at the State Water Resources Control Board in order to bring more accountability and transparency to California’s water management structure. AB 313 creates a new Water Rights Division where an administrative law judge would preside over water rights matters to improve objectivity. The Division would conduct hearings and make a recommendation to the board, which could accept, reject or modify recommendations.

POSITION: Ag Council supports AB 313.

STATUS: AB 313 was approved by the Legislature and is awaiting Governor Brown’s review.

SB 252 (Dodd)

SB 252 adds new requirements onto well applicants located in critically overdrafted basins. After extensive lobbying by a coalition of ag groups, the author accepted amendments to SB 252 and removed the following provisions: 1) the requirement for well applicants to notify all adjacent landowners of the intent to obtain a new well permit and 2) the mandate that a public meeting be held before a new well permit could be issued. SB 252 still requires well applicants to provide: a map of the location of the well, the proposed capacity and estimated pumping rate for the well, anticipated pumping schedule and an estimated annual extraction volume.

POSITION: Ag Council removed opposition after amendments addressing policy concerns were adopted. Ag Council moved to a neutral position.

STATUS: SB 252 passed the Legislature and is pending Governor Brown’s consideration.

September 7, 2017


State Capitol

State Capitol

Action Needed Today

Support SB 623 to Provide Safe Drinking Water for All Californians

Bill Also Provides Relief from State Enforcement Actions Against Farmers

Please join Ag Council in supporting SB 623 by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) by clicking on the Learn More link below to urge legislators to support the measure.

SB 623 would create the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to secure access to safe drinking water for all Californians. The bill, funded through a modest fee on agricultural, urban and industrial water users, will help ensure necessary upgrades to infrastructure and critical financial assistance for the operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in communities statewide that are in need of safe, clean drinking water.

For farmers and producers, SB 623 would protect agricultural operations from being subjected to enforcement actions for exceeding nitrate levels in groundwater, provided farmers and producers meet permit requirements. Additionally, farmers and producers will pay into the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, along with urban and industrial water users.

If approved, SB 623 will have a positive affect on the lives of many Californians by providing accessible, clean drinking water and allowing farmers to continue their agricultural operations.

DO NOT DELAY – ACT NOW to urge your elected Assembly and State Senate representatives to SUPPORT SB 623 by clicking HERE.

September 1, 2017


Assembly Passes Bill to Boost Buy American Compliance for School Lunches

ClingPeaches_Aug2015On August 31, the California State Assembly unanimously approved SB 730, a bill sponsored by Ag Council and authored by Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), to establish steps for California to improve compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs.

The bill provides guidance to school food authorities to ensure transparency in school food purchases and improve monitoring of the Buy American requirement.

Assembly passage of SB 730 comes on the heels of a July 2017 California State Audit report revealing the California Department of Education has not ensured that schools are complying with the federal Buy American provision, which requires schools to purchase food grown and processed in the U.S. to the maximum extent practicable.

The California Canning Peach Association President & CEO Rich Hudgins said, “The California Department of Education distributes $2 billion in federal nutrition money to school districts. With SB 730, it’s my hope that if we have increased monitoring and transparency on a broader scale, we will see decisions by school districts to spend funds to source more domestically produced food products into school feeding programs.”

Ag Council President Emily Rooney said, “SB 730 is important because monitoring of the Buy American requirement ensures our children consume food of the highest quality and safety, supports locally-grown products and our economy. It also reinforces California’s commitment as a world leader on climate change given our unparalleled efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dr. Katie Wilson, the former Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under President Barack Obama, said, “SB 730 will help restore the level of importance that the Buy American provision deserves for our farmers and our children, and it can serve as a model for other states to follow.”

Among the provisions in SB 730, the California Department of Education must inform and distribute to school food authorities the USDA Buy American guidance documents and regulations. Further, the bill requires certain information to be made available online, including the Buy American requirements and best practices, which provides transparency to schools and parents.

Ag Council greatly appreciates Dr. Pan’s ongoing work to move SB 730 through the legislative process, and the bill is now awaiting concurrence in the State Senate.