in the KNOW

August 17, 2013

New Water Bond Framework Presented at Assembly Hearing

Photo courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources

Photo courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources

This week, the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and the Water Bond Working Group held an informational hearing to present a new framework for a revised water bond. Chairman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), committee members and stakeholder groups shared their perspectives on prioritizing the main goals of the water bond and the distribution of funds.

The framework announced at the Assembly hearing would reduce the previous $11 billion water bond to $5 billion and the funds would be spread evenly across five funding categories. The categories are: Delta sustainability, regional self-reliance for water, clean and safe drinking water, watershed protection, and water storage. Several legislators at the hearing also discussed the need for safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities to be addressed as a priority in the bond.

The framework was developed by the Water Bond Working Group, which is a panel of eight lawmakers appointed by Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles). The state Senate has also conducted water bond hearings and is expected to consider its proposal at a later date. Considerable work remains on this issue and any final water bond package must be approved by both houses of the Legislature prior to being placed on the November 2014 ballot.

For a copy of the 2013 Water Bond Framework, click HERE.

Ag Council Speaks Out Against SB 691

This week, Ag Council testified in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee against SB 691, which proposes a tenfold increase in strict liability penalties for Title V facilities for a one-day air violation.  The penalty under SB 691 would increase from a maximum of $10,000 under current law to a maximum of $100,000 for nuisance-based, non-vehicular air-quality violations.

SB 691 is authored by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Breathe California. Proponents of the bill state it is meant to address major events, such as the August 2012 refinery fire in the Bay Area.

Ag Council has taken an active role on this bill because some of our members hold Title V permits through their local air districts, and therefore, could be impacted under this bill. During the recent Assembly hearing, Ag Council explained to legislators that—although the bill may not be intended to apply to the ag community—there is currently no language in SB 691 to prevent our members with Title V permits from being subject to the increase in penalties.

Ag Council is part of a broad coalition urging the bill’s author and sponsor to adopt amendments to place parameters around the bill to limit its scope. Unfortunately, the amendments have not been accepted. As a result, Ag Council continues to voice opposition to SB 691 and is advocating against the bill in numerous meetings with legislators.

SB 691 passed the Senate in May and now awaits consideration in the Assembly.

Monsanto Opens New Research Facility

Ag Council Allied Member, Monsanto Company, hosted a grand opening earlier this week at its new research and lab facility in Woodland, located just northwest of Sacramento. The 90,000 sq. ft. facility is now the largest lab space dedicated to testing vegetable seed health in the world.

The $31 million dollar construction project brings together Monsanto’s previously dispersed departments of plant breeding, particularly the seed health, molecular markers, and trait genetics groups, and provides more room for the company to grow. These departments ensure that the seeds produced by Monsanto are ready for market and consumer use.

In the new facility, staff will use new technologies, like seed chippers, that allow researchers to examine a seed’s qualities before it is planted.

The facility will be able to house approximately 400 employees, many more than are currently employed in the facility’s research groups.

Click HERE to read more.