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in the KNOW

August 9, 2013

Assembly Returns from Summer Recess & Speaker Perez Outlines Priorities

Speaker John Perez (D-LA)-photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Speaker John Perez (D-LA)-photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Assembly legislators returned this week from summer recess for the last month of legislative activity prior to adjournment. State Senate members will come back to the Capitol from their recess on August 12. Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said in a press conference on Monday that roughly 1,100 bills remain under consideration in the Capitol.

The Speaker outlined his priorities for the remainder of the legislative year including passage of a rainy day fund to help the state handle cycles of budget volatility, a measure requiring the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to create a strategic plan, and helping homeless veteran’s with supportive services.

Key Bills & Activity

With the return of the Legislature, Ag Council is engaged in the issues affecting our members and tracking numerous bills. The Legislature has until September 13, which is the date of adjournment, to consider legislation.

A few of the key bills and regulatory issues under consideration are:

ALRA-Mandatory Mediation

SB 25 (Steinberg; D-Sacramento) would expand mandatory mediation provisions under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) to future contract negotiations and allows for mediator-created collective bargaining agreements. SB 25 would disenfranchise agricultural workers by unionizing workers years after a union has abandoned negotiations.

The bill is pending Assembly consideration. Ag Council opposes SB 25 and is actively lobbying against the bill.

Fertilizer Tax

AB 69 (Perea; D-Fresno) would impose a one percent tax per dollar of fertilizer materials sold in California to lower nitrate in drinking water. In 2016, the bill would authorize an increase in the tax of up to four percent based upon specified circumstances in a nitrate fund.

Ag Council and a large coalition of ag organizations oppose AB 69. Instead, we support utilization of the $455 million in existing funds at the Department of Public Health to improve drinking water in disadvantaged communities.

Click HERE to read a copy of the letter entitled, “Ag Council Opposes Fertilizer Tax.”

Incentives for Air Quality Improvements

Ag Council supports two bills that would extend the sunset date for specific air quality improvement programs to 2024–SB 8 (Pavley; D-Agoura Hills) and AB 8 (Perea; D-Fresno).

The programs consist of ag-friendly efforts such as local diesel emissions reduction programs and the Carl Moyer program, which provides incentive grants for cleaner-than-required vehicles, engines and equipment to achieve air quality reductions that would not otherwise occur.

SB 11 is pending in Assembly Natural Resources Committee and AB 8 is awaiting consideration in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

Prop 65

As a member of Governor Jerry Brown’s stakeholder group on Prop 65 over the past several weeks, Ag Council remains highly engaged on Prop 65 and is active in the ongoing discussions in both the regulatory and legislative arenas.

Click HERE to read more about Prop 65 activities and HERE to learn about how the issue impacts our members.

CDFA Schedules Milk Pricing Hearing

Photo courtesy of Aquafornia

Photo courtesy of Aquafornia

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) set a hearing on milk pricing for September 12, 2013 at 8 a.m. in the CDFA Auditorium located at 1220 N Street in Sacramento. The hearing will consider amendments to the Stabilization and Marketing Plans for Market Milk for the Northern California and Southern California Marketing Areas (Plans). 

The hearing notice comes after a petition was filed on July 22 requesting a hearing to consider a modification of the existing sliding scale utilized to determine a dry whey factor in the Class 4b formula and to replace the current temporary price adjustment with a new one, as specified in the petition. California Dairies Inc., California Dairy Campaign, Milk Producers Council and Western United Dairymen signed the petition. Land O’Lakes submitted a letter of support for the petition.

To read the CDFA hearing notice, click HERE. For the petition, click HERE.

DPR Monitors Pesticide Residues in Air

After conducting air monitoring in selected communities, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently determined that pesticide residue levels are “well below” the levels set to protect human health and the environment.

DPR Director, Brian Leahy said, “This is reassuring news for residents. Our monitoring in 2012 shows that none of the pesticides exceeded their screening levels, indicating a low health risk to the people in these communities. These findings indicate that the state and county restrictions are keeping air concentrations below the health protective targets set by DPR.”

This is the second consecutive year that residue levels for monitored pesticides did not exceed health screening levels developed by DPR.

To read more about the communities selected and pesticides monitored, click HERE.