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April 28, 2017

Senate Education Committee Approves SB 730 to Boost Compliance with the Buy American Provision for School Lunches

ClingPeaches_Aug2015On April 26, the State Senate Education Committee unanimously approved SB 730 by Dr. Pan (D-Sacramento), a bill sponsored by Agricultural Council of California (Ag Council), which will establish steps for California to monitor compliance with and enforcement of the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs. SB 730 will improve local farm to fork food options for school children.

Ag Council President Emily Rooney said, “SB 730 is needed given that the Buy American provision is not being adequately monitored and enforced, and as a result, multiple school districts have purchased food products from foreign sources.  State agencies have the responsibility to provide oversight and ensure compliance, so SB 730 creates mechanisms for the California Department of Education (CDE) to provide guidance to school food authorities to ensure transparency in school food purchases and improve enforcement of the provision.”

The California Canning Peach Association President & CEO Rich Hudgins said, “California’s farmers and food processors comply with state regulations to reduce emissions to improve air quality, carefully manage pesticide use, implement environmental stewardship practices, and our state has the strongest worker protections and wages.  However, all of these environmental and health benefits are more than negated when school districts spend taxpayer funds to source Chinese canned fruit produced over 6,000 miles away.”

Spending taxpayer dollars to buy food products for our children that are grown and processed under very different standards does not reflect our policy priorities and is extraordinarily discouraging to those in the agricultural community who work so hard to achieve compliance with our rigorous standards.  Increased monitoring and enforcement of the Buy American provision ensures that our children consume food of the highest quality and safety.  SB 730 supports locally grown crops, as well as our state’s economy, and reinforces California’s commitment as a world leader on climate change.

Under the Buy American provision, schools and entities within the jurisdiction of the CDE that participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program are required to purchase domestically grown and processed foods to the maximum extent practicable.

Ag Council is pleased the Senate Education Committee approved SB 730 on the consent calendar, meaning the bill was deemed noncontroversial and no opposition was expressed at the hearing.  Ag Council thanks Dr. Pan for authoring SB 730, and we appreciate the other members of the Senate Education Committee for approving the bill: Chairman Allen (D-Santa Monica), Vice Chair Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), Sen. Galgiani (D-Stockton), Sen. Mendoza (D-Artesia), Sen. Leyva (D-Chino) and Sen. Vidak (R-Hanford).  The bill moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

State Capitol

State Capitol

Legislative Update

The State Capitol was active this week as legislators faced a deadline for policy committees to hear and report bills (with a fiscal cost) to the respective Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees. Legislation mandating a single payer health care system passed through policy committees, as well as bills relating to the cap and trade program and a measure to maintain current environmental and labor regulations despite any future changes at the federal level by President Donald Trump and his administration.

Read on for an overview of some of the legislation Ag Council is engaged in at this time. If Ag Council has taken a position, it is indicated below. Please note this is not a comprehensive list of all measures pending before the Legislature, which total over 2,500 bills.

Buy American Requirement in Schools

SB 730 (Pan)
Establishes actions the California Department of Education (CDE) must take to monitor compliance with and enforcement of the Buy American requirement in the school lunch and breakfast programs in California. Status: Approved by the Senate Education Committee and pending in Senate Appropriations Committee. Position: SUPPORT and Ag Council is sponsoring this measure.

Climate Change – Cap & Trade Measures

Given the governor’s goal to pass a cap and trade bill by a two-thirds vote in 2017, Ag Council is engaged in discussions with other agricultural and business groups in order to help seek the best possible outcome for our members if/when a bill passes.

AB 151 (Burke)
AB 151 seeks to improve legislative oversight over the Air Resources Board (ARB). Among the provisions, AB 151 requires ARB to report to and seek input from the legislative policy and fiscal committees prior to the adoption of an ARB scoping plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40 percent below the 1990 by 2030. Status: Awaiting consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Position: Ag Council supports the bill in concept.

AB 378 (C. Garcia)
Requires the ARB to consider and account for social costs of GHG emissions, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas and authorizes ARB to use a carbon pricing mechanism to meet the GHG reduction target of 40 percent below the 1990 level by the year 2030. Status: Pending review in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Environment

SB 49 (De Leon)
California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017 – Establishes that existing federal air, climate, water, labor, and endangered species regulations are enforceable under state law. The measure is meant to maintain current regulations despite any future changes at the federal level by President Donald Trump and his administration. Status: SB 49 is pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Position: OPPOSED

Estate Tax

SB 726 (Wiener)
If passed by the Legislature and approved by voters in a ballot measure, SB 726 creates a California estate tax only if Congress and President Trump repeal the federal estate tax. Status: SB 726 did not meet the deadline in order to pass the policy committee. Ag Council is keeping a close watch on the bill in the event it returns. Position: OPPOSED

Food & Beverages – School Sales

AB 841 (Weber)
The bill restricts foods and beverages sold in schools by prohibiting certain purported “advertising” including logos and company names. In addition, the measure prohibits schools from participating in programs providing funding to schools in exchange for consumer purchases of foods and beverages, including common fundraisers such as food sales to support a school sports team. Status: AB 841 will be considered in the Assembly Education Committee on May 10. Position: OPPOSED

Health Care

SB 562 (Lara)
Californians For A Healthy California Act – Establishes a universal single payer health care system and a health care cost control system in California, which will result in higher taxes and unsustainable costs. The bill does not yet contain a funding mechanism to pay for a single payer system. Status: SB 562 is pending in the Committee on Appropriations. Position: OPPOSED

Labor

AB 5 (Gonzalez-Fletcher)
Opportunity to Work Act — Requires an employer with 10 or more employees to offer additional hours of work to an existing nonexempt employee before hiring an additional employee, temporary employee or subcontractor. Status: Pending in Assembly Appropriations Committee where the author is the chair of the committee. Position: OPPOSED

SB 63 (Jackson)
Prohibits an employer with 20 or more employees within a 75 mile radius from refusing to allow an employee with over 12 months of service, with at least 1,250 hours of service in the past year, to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child. When combined with other leave, SB 63 creates a seven month protected leave of absence for certain employees. Status: Awaiting consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Position: OPPOSED

Pesticides

SB 602 (Allen)
The bill requires the labeling of seeds and plants treated with neonicotinoids and makes violations punishable under the Unfair Business Practices Act. The bill is unwarranted and not based in science. Status: SB 602 is pending consideration on the Senate floor. Position: OPPOSED

Water

Ag Council is engaged in stakeholder discussions on the nitrate in drinking water issue to develop a strategy going forward. Given those conversations are ongoing, we have not yet taken a position on SB 623 and AB 1605 listed below.

SB 623 (Monning)
The measure establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in which funds are available upon appropriation to the State Water Resources Control Board. SB 623 requires the Board to expend moneys in the fund for grants, loans, contracts, or services to assist those without access to safe and affordable drinking water. Status: Awaiting consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 1605 (Caballero)
If replacement drinking water is provided, a person causing nitrate contamination above the maximum contaminant level is deemed not to have caused pollution or nuisance and is not liable for negligence or trespass, if certain conditions are met. Status: Pending in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

AB 313 (Gray)
The bill establishes a new Water Rights Division at the State Water Resources Control Board, where administrative law judges preside over water rights matters through a hearing process. Recommendations would be made to the executive director of the Board that the executive director can accept, reject or modify. The bill also creates an appeal process for decisions made by the Board’s executive director. AB 313 intends to restructure the administration and enforcement of water rights at the Board in order to bring more accountability and transparency to California’s water management structure. Status: AB 313 is awaiting action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Position: SUPPORT

SB 252 (Dodd)
SB 252 adds prescriptive requirements and burdens onto people applying for new well permits in critically overdrafted basins. SB 252 undermines the locally driven, collaborative Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) process and could lead to unnecessary litigation. SB 252 is pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Position: OPPOSED