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in the KNOW

April 8, 2016

Legislative Update

State Capitol

State Capitol

Spring at the State Capitol means committee hearings are in full swing with state legislators racing toward an April 22 deadline for policy committees to hear fiscal bills, which require an appropriation. Key bills under consideration are listed below. Ag Council is weighing-in during the committee process, and our position on each of the bills is provided. Keep in mind this overview is continuously updated as the year progresses to reflect changes, such as bills stalling or amendments being accepted. As always, please do not hesitate to contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 with any questions.

CARGO THEFT

  • AB 2805 (Olsen) Cargo theft prevention program
    • With recent agricultural thefts causing millions in losses, it is vital that law enforcement agencies have the tools necessary to coordinate and respond to cargo thefts.
    • AB 2805 establishes the California Agriculture Cargo Theft Crime Prevention Program to promote coordination with the goal of catching suspects and preventing future cargo thefts.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: Scheduled for consideration in the Assembly Ag Committee on April 13.

CLIMATE CHANGE

  • SB 1383 (Lara) Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
    • Bill mandates a 40 percent reduction of methane, a 40 percent reduction of hydrofluorocarbon gases and a 50 percent reduction of black carbon (which includes diesel) below 2013 levels by 2030.
    • Ag Council opposes the bill and instead urges the Legislature to support incentives to fund research and projects that reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved by the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality on April 6 and will next be considered in the Senate Committee on Appropriations at a later date.

ENERGY

  • AB 2223 (Gray) Incentivizing methane reductions
    • Appropriates up to $100 million to incentivize dairy methane reduction projects, including digesters, solids separation, and conversion to scrape manure management systems.
    • Funding is needed since the Air Resources Board is seeking voluntary reductions in methane from manure by 75 percent, as well as a 25 percent reduction in emissions from enteric methane by 2030 as part of the proposed Short Lived Climate Pollutants Plan.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: AB 2223 was approved in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources on April 4 and will be considered in the Assembly Committee on Agriculture on April 13.
  • AB 2700 (Salas) Energy procurement – biomass
    • Five biomass facilities have closed in California over the past year due to expiring contracts with utilities and costs. The closures leave farmers with scarce options for disposing of woody biomass from tree prunings and uprooted trees from orchard removals. Additional facilities face closure, as well.
    • AB 2700 promotes a Renewable Portfolio Standard policy to help ensure that the energy procurement process creates a more level playing field for biomass facilities by requiring the Public Utilities Commission to take into account the overall value that biomass provides to our energy grid.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: Bill approved by the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce on April 6 and is scheduled for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources on April 18.
  • SB 1043 (Allen) Biomethane
    • SB 1043 increases the authority of the Air Resources Board to mandate use of renewable gas and equates biomethane projects, which destroys existing methane in the environment, with technologies that create more methane.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved by the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications on April 5 and will be heard in the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality at a date to be determined.

FARMERS’ MARKETS

  • AB 2324 (Eggman) Certified farmers’ markets
    • Measure ensures that reasonable and practical record keeping of product sales and processing is a part of the normal practice of farmer vendors participating in direct marketing at certified farmers’ markets in California.
    • AB 2324 also establishes enforcement procedures in order to ensure due process during investigations of consumer misrepresentation or unfair competition.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: Approved in the Assembly Committee on Agriculture on March 30 and the bill will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on April 13.

FOOD WASTE/FOOD LABELS

  • AB 2725 (Chiu) Food quality date – food labels
    • Among the provisions, the bill requires food manufacturers that use a quality date to use the phrase “best if used by” on the product by July 2017, which imposes a California-only standard not required by other states.
    • Measure creates an unnecessary California mandate to address food waste concerns when the private sector is already working collaboratively to provide solutions.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: AB 2725 is up for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Health on April 12.

LABOR

  • AB 2757 (Gonzalez) Overtime wage for agricultural workers
    • Phases in a new overtime wage law for agricultural workers over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime in California after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved by the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on April 6 and will be considered in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations at a date to be determined.
    • Take action – Go HERE where you will find a link to easily communicate your opposition to AB 2757 to your legislators.
  • SB 1166 (Jackson) Unlawful employment practice – parental leave
    • Employee can receive 12 weeks of protected parental leave with the possibility of 24 weeks of leave for those who work for large employers.
    • Applies to businesses with five employees or more.
    • Brown vetoed a similar bill last year.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: SB 1166 will be considered in the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on April 13.
  • SB 1167 (Leyva) Indoor heat illness
    • Requires CalOSHA to propose heat illness standards for indoor workers by July 1, 2017 that are of equal or greater protection as the standards for outdoor workers.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved in the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on April 6 and will be considered in the Senate Committee on Appropriations on April 18.
  • SB 878 (Leyva) Work hours – scheduling
    • Mandates a 28-day notice of an employee’s schedule.
    • If the schedule is changed, SB 878 subjects employers to investigations, penalties and litigation.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: SB 878 is scheduled for a hearing on April 13 in the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.
  • AB 1676 (Campos) Salary information
    • Bars an employer from asking job applicants about prior compensation.
    • Brown vetoed a nearly identical measure in 2015 stating there is “little evidence that this would assure more equitable wages.”
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Hearing scheduled in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on April 20.

NATURAL RESOURCES

  • AB 2162 (Chu) Oak Woodlands Protection Act
    • Mandates that a Fish and Game permit be obtained for the removal an oak tree. The permit is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
    • An oak removal plan approved by a licensed forester would also be required.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Bill recently removed from committee consideration, and we are hopeful that due to significant opposition the bill will not move this year.

PESTICIDES

  • AB 2596 (Bloom) Pesticides – use of anticoagulants
    • AB 2596 bans the use of rodenticides, with limited exceptions, leaving many agricultural facilities and warehouses vulnerable to rodents, which can transmit diseases.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Bill removed from hearing consideration by the author, and we are hopeful it has stalled for the year due to opposition.
  • SB 1282 (Leno) Pesticides: neonicotinoids: labeling
    • Requires the Department of Pesticide Regulation to label seeds and plants for retail sale that have been treated with a neonicotinoid pesticide.
    • The measure is not based in science and threatens agriculture given that neonicotinoids are used to fight pests that transmit serious diseases threatening agricultural commodities.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: SB 1282 is scheduled for a hearing on April 20 in the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

WATER

  • SB 1317 (Wolk) Conditional use permits: groundwater
    • Requires local entities to create a process to issue conditional use permits for the development of groundwater extraction in high or medium priority basins.
    • SB 1317 mandates additional requirements to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and undermines the local control element critical to the implementation of SGMA.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Set for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 12.

Committee Approves Ag Overtime Wage Measure – Take Action to Oppose the Bill

On April 6, the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment approved the bill to phase-in ag overtime wage requirements, AB 2757, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

It is more important than ever that you reach out to your legislators via the Learn More link below to help us oppose the bill, which will soon be up for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

With the recent passage of the $15 minimum wage bill, and the pressure it places on the ag community, it is critical that legislators hear strong opposition from the ag community regarding AB 2757. We urge you to reach out to your legislators now by using the link below.

As a reminder, AB 2757 repeals the current overtime wage requirement in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours of work in a day, and phases in a new overtime wage law over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.

Click HERE to go to our Action Center and easily email an opposition letter to your legislators. Your voice at this time is critical to help stop AB 2757.

Pesticide Workshops for Field Fumigation Notification

The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is holding two workshops to solicit input from stakeholders to assist DPR in determining appropriate notification when field fumigation takes place. The input will help DPR develop a new regulation.

As background, Ag Council staff spoke at a DPR workshop in 2015 to provide our perspective on the field fumigation notification requirements. Ag Council expressed concern that farmers may eventually be required to both notify and monitor for all field fumigations. At this time, Ag Council is preparing formal comments that will be submitted as a letter to DPR prior to the May 20 comment deadline.

We encourage interested members to attend one of the upcoming DPR workshops on April 12 in Salinas and April 14 in Fresno. Click HERE for details about the workshops and please contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 if you would like more information about the field fumigation issue.