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State Capitol

 2016 Legislative Wrap-Up

This year, the California State Legislature sent Governor Jerry Brown 1,059 bills, and he signed 900 of those bills while vetoing 15 percent, which is a slightly higher veto rate than previous years. Though 2016 has been a challenging year on the legislative front, particularly with the measure to change agricultural overtime requirements among the 900 bills signed into state law, some positive actions did occur this year.

Ag Council was engaged in and helped seek passage of SB 1383 by Senator Lara (D-Bell Gardens). The methane portion of the bill creates needed parameters around the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) efforts to regulate manure methane emissions from dairies and livestock and gives more certainty to dairy farming families in the state. In addition, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved Ag Council’s audit request, championed by Senator Galgiani (D-Stockton), to determine compliance and enforcement of the Buy American requirement in schools under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education and participating in the school lunch and school breakfast programs.

2016 also included defensive wins to halt legislation harmful to agriculture and prevent such bills from becoming law. Ag Council and others worked together to stop legislation to further restrict pesticides, actively lobbied to prevent a ban on new groundwater wells in certain areas and successfully advocated against a food labeling measure requiring a food quality date. These were critical defensive victories during the course of the year on behalf of our members.

Read on for more details about the priority measures Ag Council was involved with this year in the California State Legislature and the outcome of that legislation.

AUDIT OF THE BUY AMERICAN REQUIREMENT

Audit Request (Galgiani)
Position: SUPPORTED/SPONSOR
Status: APPROVED

In August, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) approved an audit initiated by Ag Council to review enforcement of the Buy American requirement to determine whether schools under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education (CDE) and participating in the school lunch and school breakfast programs are in compliance. If not, the audit will outline the steps CDE will take to provide oversight and compliance of the requirement. Status: JLAC approved the audit request and it is awaiting staff assignment in the State Auditor’s office.

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENERGY

SB 1383 (Lara)
Position: SUPPORTED
Status: SIGNED INTO LAW

SB 1383 requires the Air Resources Board (ARB) to limit methane emissions from dairy and livestock manure management operations to 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, rather than the unattainable 75 percent proposed by ARB, which would have set-up dairies to fail. SB 1383 became necessary in order to reign-in the blanket authority provided to ARB under SB 32 (see below). The measure also requires a 40 percent reduction of hydrofluorocarbon gases and a 50 percent reduction of black carbon (includes diesel) below 2013 levels by 2030. Status: Governor Brown signed the bill into law on September 19.

SB 32 (Pavley)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: SIGNED INTO LAW

Current state law requires the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The newly signed law, SB 32, requires ARB to further reduce statewide emissions of GHGs to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. SB 32 does not extend the existing cap and trade program, which is presently authorized through 2020. Ag Council opposed SB 32 because it gives unfettered regulatory authority to ARB to meet the new mandate. Status: Governor Brown signed the bill into law.

AB 197 (E. Garcia)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: SIGNED INTO LAW

AB 197 adds two non-voting lawmakers to the board at ARB, creates six-year term limits for ARB members and establishes a new legislative oversight committee. AB 197 directs ARB to consider the social costs of GHGs and requires a focus on climate change programs in disadvantaged communities. Ag Council opposed AB 197 because it undermines the cost effectiveness requirement under the current system and does not contain meaningful oversight of ARB going forward. Status: Governor Brown signed the bill into law.

AB 2223 (Gray)
Position: SUPPORT
Status: STALLED

The bill appropriates up to $10 million in funding from the General Fund to incentivize dairy methane reduction projects including: digesters, solids separation, and conversion to scrape manure management systems. Status: The bill stalled, however, AB 2223 gave critical attention to the need for incentive funding for methane reductions on dairies. The effort also paved the way to securing the $50 million in greenhouse gas reduction funding approved and signed into law for dairy and livestock methane reduction projects.

EXCAVATION/CALL BEFORE YOU DIG

SB 661 (Hill)
Position: NEUTRAL
Status: SIGNED INTO LAW

The measure makes changes within the “811 Call Before You Dig” program to improve safety to protect the public and workers when excavating near underground facilities, such as oil pipelines, natural gas lines and fiber optic cables. Ag Council and other ag organizations participated in discussions to ensure an understanding of the nature and frequency of agricultural excavations during bill negotiations. Status: SB 661 was signed into law. Clean-up legislation is now being discussed to clarify issues relating to the new annual continuous excavation ticket created in SB 661, which will be available to those operating on ag land.

FOOD WASTE/FOOD LABELS

AB 2725 (Chiu)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: FAILED

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. Such action creates an unnecessary California mandate to address food waste concerns when the private sector is already working collaboratively to provide solutions. Status: After a significant lobbying effort against the bill, AB 2725 did not have the votes needed for passage in the Assembly Committee on Health.

LABOR

AB 1066 (Gonzalez)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: SIGNED INTO LAW

After failing passage in the Assembly, the ag overtime measure was revived in a gut and amend measure in the Senate by the bill author, Assemblywoman Gonzalez. This action resuscitated the ag overtime bill (see AB 2757 below) and was permitted by the leadership in the Legislature. Status: AB 1066 passed the Legislature and was signed by Governor Brown on September 12.

AB 2757 (Gonzalez)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: FAILED in Asm. 
& revived in a gut & amend

Phases in a new overtime wage law for agricultural workers requiring overtime in California after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week instead of the current payment of overtime after 10 hours in a day and 60 hours in a week. Status: Ag groups and other organizations mounted a strong opposition effort, and the bill failed in the Assembly on June 2. A gut and amend bill to implement new ag overtime rules, AB 1066 (see above), was later passed and signed into law.

SB 1167 (Mendoza)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: SIGNED INTO LAW

SB 1167 directs Cal/OSHA to adopt an unwarranted blanket standard regarding indoor workers with the intent to protect them from heat-related illness and injury. The bill hamstrings the authority of Cal/OSHA to develop the appropriate scope of a regulation by forcing a one-size-fits-all standard onto California businesses. Cal/OSHA already has the ability to implement heat illness regulations, which includes a more collaborative stakeholder process. Status: Governor Brown signed SB 1167 into law in September.

SB 654 (Jackson)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: VETOED

SB 654 mandates new protected maternity and paternity leave in California leading to higher costs and burdens on employers with as few as 20 employees and exposes businesses to litigation. SB 654 requires six weeks of protected employee leave to bond with a new child within one year of birth, adoption or foster placement. The six weeks of leave is in addition to existing leave allowing employees up to four months of protected leave due to pregnancy. As a result, the measure would lead to over five months of protected leave for some employees. Status: Ag Council opposed the bill in the Legislature and requested a veto from the governor. The governor vetoed the bill in September.

SB 878 (Leyva)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: STALLED

SB 878 mandates a seven-day notice of an employee’s schedule. If the schedule is changed, SB 878 subjects employers to investigations, penalties and litigation. Status: The bill was held in the Senate Committee on Appropriations and did not move forward in time to meet the deadline to pass bills.

NATURAL RESOURCES

AB 2162 (Chu)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: STALLED

AB 2162, the 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. Status: Given the property rights concerns and significant opposition to the bill, it was removed from committee consideration and stalled.

PESTICIDES

SB 1282 (Leno)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: FAILED IN SENATE

SB 1282 mandates 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. Status: The ag community actively lobbied against the bill, and it failed to pass the Senate when considered.

AB 2596 (Bloom)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: STALLED

AB 2596 bans the use of rodenticides (anticoagulants), with limited exceptions, leaving many agricultural facilities and warehouses vulnerable to rodents, which can transmit diseases. Status: An ag coalition, including Ag Council, strongly opposed AB 2596, and the bill was removed from committee hearing consideration by the author.

PUBLIC SAFETY – CARGO THEFT PREVENTION

AB 2805 (Olsen)
Position: SUPPORT
Status: VETOED, but Gov 
directed administrative action

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. Agricultural thefts are causing millions in losses. Status: Governor Brown vetoed the bill stating the goals can be accomplished administratively without statute. However, the governor said, “Agricultural cargo theft is a growing problem in California, worthy of prioritization.” He then directed the CHP Commissioner and the Secretary of the State Transportation Agency to “examine ways to improve enforcement in this area and carry out the goals of this bill.”

WATER

SB 1317 (Wolk)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: STALLED

Bans any new groundwater extractions from probationary basins and those in critical overdraft. Mandates local entities to create a process by Jan. 2018 to issue groundwater extraction permits for the development of groundwater extraction in high or medium priority basins. SB 1317 dictates additional requirements to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and undermines the local control element critical of SGMA. Status: Thanks to a solid opposition effort by an ag coalition, including Ag Council, a hearing was cancelled in the Assembly due to the lack of support.

AB 1520 (M. Stone)
Position: OPPOSED
Status: STALLED

AB 1520 mandates industrial, institutional and commercial water and energy use be made public information.  The intent of the measure is to shame businesses and provide an avenue for protest without knowing regulatory requirements or how certain industries use water. AB 1520 is not needed given that local agencies can already fine businesses up to $10,000 for water conservation violations. Status: After a strong lobbying effort in opposition of the bill, AB 1520 did not have enough votes for passage in the Senate and the bill was placed on the inactive file.