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in the KNOW

February 22, 2013

Sen. Michael Rubio Resigns

Sen. Michael Rubio-Photo Courtesy of ABC News 23 KERO Bakersfield

In a surprise move to many, state Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) announced this morning that he is resigning from the state Senate effective immediately.

Rubio said, “I have realized that my current professional path has left little opportunity to be home for those who are most important to me, which is why I am making a change.”

Rubio has accepted a position as manager of government affairs in California for Chevron.

A moderate Democrat in the Senate, Rubio recently became Chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee and was sponsoring a bill to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) this legislative session. In addition, Rubio worked with Ag Council to support our members on cap-and-trade related issues.

A special election will be held to fill the remainder of his term (through 2014).

You can read Senator Rubio’s full statement HERE.

Impact on the Supermajority
Due to the immediate resignation of Senator Rubio, and two other existing vacancies in the state Senate, there is no longer a Democrat supermajority in the state Senate. With 26 Democrats in the chamber, the state Senate is now one vote shy of the two-thirds supermajority it held after the election.

However, once special elections are held to fill each of the three vacancies, a Democrat supermajority is expected once again.

Bill Introduction Deadline

Today is the final day that legislation can be introduced in the Legislature for consideration this year. Over 300 bills were introduced yesterday alone with many more expected today.

After today, bills can still be amended as they move through the committee process. Next week, Ag Council will provide members a brief overview of some of the key measures introduced.

Tractor Regulation in the San Joaquin Valley

Staff with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced recently that implementation of the first phase of the ag equipment rule, known as the tractor rule, will be limited to the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) and its eight counties.

Background
In 2007, ARB committed to developing a plan for in-use ag equipment by 2013 with the goal to accelerate fleet turnover to equipment with engines meeting the cleanest new engine NOx standard. This commitment was made by the state in order to meet federal Clean Air Act requirements.

The type of ag equipment being considered for the rule includes diesel equipment 25 horsepower or greater that is self-propelled, such as tractors, harvesters, combines, balers, swathers, sprayers, forklifts and all-terrain vehicles.

Previous Voluntary Actions
In developing the SJV rule, ARB staff is taking into account voluntary actions by the ag community to lower emissions via incentive programs. Given this, the SJV rule on ag equipment will incorporate emission reductions already achieved in agriculture through the Carl Moyer Program, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program. As a result, we anticipate that mandatory equipment upgrades will not be needed in the SJV rule, however, this is not certain until the rule is released.

Workshops
Workshops on the SJV rule will be held by ARB to hear stakeholder input and discuss how the rule meets state ozone obligations. A Fresno workshop is scheduled on March 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District office, and a Sacramento workshop will be held on March 15 at 1:30 p.m. at Cal/EPA. ARB will consider the SJV rule in December 2013.

Please contact Ag Council at ph. 916.443.4887 if you have  questions regarding the tractor rule.

Conway Remains Assembly GOP Leader

Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare)

This week, the Assembly GOP Caucus voted to keep Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare) as their leader. According to the Sacramento Bee, a motion to vacate the chair garnered just one vote after a Caucus meeting with the 25 GOP members of the Assembly.

Conway has been the GOP leader in the Assembly for the past two years. The November 2012 election swept in a two-thirds Democrat supermajority in the Assembly, which dealt a blow to Republicans in the Legislature.