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in the KNOW

August 23, 2013

Ag Labor Bill Passes Assembly

Senator Darrell Steinberg’s (D-Sacramento) bill, SB 25, to amend the mandatory mediation provisions of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) was approved in the Assembly this week by a vote of 43-25. The bill is sponsored by the United Farm Workers.

Ag Council has lobbied against SB 25 because it would permit a party to prolong collective bargaining negotiations for a 60-day period and then call for a mediator to impose the terms and conditions of a renewal contract. Ag Council believes this creates a disincentive to negotiate and bargain during contract renewals. In addition, the contract would not be subject to worker ratification, which marginalizes workers.

Procedurally, as a result of changes to the bill this week in the Assembly, the bill is now on concurrence in the Senate for approval of those changes.

Ag Council and other agricultural organizations continue to strongly oppose this bill and will urge Governor Brown to veto the measure if it moves to his desk.

Footprint Reduced for BDCP

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s (BDCP) project footprint for the proposed water conveyance system in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been reduced recently by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) from 3,654 acres to 1,853 acres total. Though this reduction is due in part to discussions between DWR and local landowners, it is also a result of optimization of the project by engineers and planners to increase efficiency.

Twitchell Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  Photo courtesy of the Department of Water Resources.

Twitchell Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Photo courtesy of the Department of Water Resources.

The nearly 50 percent footprint reduction was achieved by shortening the length of the twin tunnel conveyance by five miles to 30 miles total. The intermediate forebay has been reduced from 750 acres to 40 surface acres. Construction staging areas have been reduced by several acres, as well.

In addition to reducing the overall size of the BDCP construction, several impacted acres have been shifted from private land to public land. About 400 fewer acres of private land will be permanently impacted by the conveyance system.

The changes have not altered conveyance capacity for the pumps and tunnels, which remains at 9,000 cfs. A draft Environmental Impact Report and project description will likely be available this fall. Construction on the project is still not expected to begin for another 10 to 15 years.

Read more HERE on the DWR website.

Freshmen Draft Fewer Bills than Counterparts

Newly elected freshman legislators in California introduced 33 percent fewer bills than legislators with more seniority, according to a recent analysis by the Los Angeles Times.

Those elected to the Legislature in 2012 introduced an average of 16.9 bills in comparison to 22.5 bills on average for veteran legislators.

The analysis by the Los Angeles Times considers whether the recent change in term limits may be a factor in the reduced number of bills. Legislators elected in 2012 can serve 12 years in either house of the Legislature. Members elected before 2012 are subject to a six year term limit in the Assembly and an eight year term limit in the state Senate.

Click HERE to read more.

Ag Council’s 95th Annual Meeting

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We invite all members to join us March 2-4, 2014 for Ag Council’s 95th Annual Meeting to be held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach, California.

This event is held in conjunction with CoBank’s Pacific West Customer Meeting.

Further details will be available at a later date. In the meantime, please save March 2-4, 2014 on your calendars.