<
in the KNOW

July 10, 2017

Legislative Update

California State Capitol

California State Capitol

With summer in full swing, an issue very high on the agenda for Governor Jerry Brown is passage of a bill to extend the cap and trade program beyond 2020 when the program expires. Ag Council is involved in negotiations with the governor’s staff and legislators, along with other stakeholders, particularly to ensure cost containment for our members as the program goes forward. Further insight is provided below in the climate change article.

Many of the key bills Ag Council has been engaged in during the 2017 legislative session are listed below, including our position and the status of those measures. We welcome questions from our members about these and other policy issues. Please do not hesitate to contact our staff at ph. 916.443.4887.

Buy American Bill

SB 730 (Pan), a bill sponsored by Ag Council, establishes steps for California to monitor compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs. SB 730 will improve local farm to fork food options for school children. Status: The Senate approved SB 730 in May, and the bill is pending consideration in the Assembly Education Committee with a hearing on July 12. Position: SUPPORT

Climate Change

Cap & Trade Measure
Passage of a cap and trade reauthorization bill by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature is a high priority for Governor Jerry Brown. Ag Council and other stakeholders are participating in legislative negotiations with the governor’s staff and Democrat leadership staff to help seek the best possible outcome for our members, some of which are regulated under the cap and trade program.

In the cap and trade discussions, Ag Council is working with a group of agricultural advocates to achieve the following objectives, among others: 1) maintain the current allowance allocation at 90 percent for food processors in the cap and trade program to provide cost containment, 2) leverage funds for ag-related emission reduction projects and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, short-lived climate pollutants, air toxics and criteria pollutants and 3) continue to allow the use of offsets in the cap and trade program.

The cap and trade bill to extend the program through 2030 and the air quality measure mentioned below are contentious issues among various stakeholders, including the environmental community and oil companies.  However, given the governor’s involvement, efforts continue to develop a final agreement.  Since cap and trade negotiations are ongoing, a legislative vehicle has not yet been identified. Ag Council will provide that information when it becomes available.

Draft Air Quality Bill
A draft air quality measure was recently released by the governor’s staff to potentially move forward alongside the cap and trade measure.  The air quality bill, as written, requires: fence-line monitoring at or adjacent to certain emissions sources, the development of community plans to require reductions in criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminant emissions, higher penalties for violations and regular upgrades to emissions-related equipment. Ag Council is working, along with a coalition, to communicate concerns with the draft bill given the implications for our members and is seeking stronger parameters around the bill, as well as clarity regarding which entities are affected.

Energy

SB 100 (De Leon) mandates that California establish a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2045. Ag Council is concerned a new renewable generation mandate will lead to electric rate cost impacts for our members. SB 100 depends upon certain assumptions including the availability of storage at a cost and scale not yet attainable. It is not known whether the renewable targets in SB 100 could be reached without rate increases that would significantly impact agriculture and food processing. Status: Awaiting consideration in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee. Position: OPPOSED

Environment

SB 49 (De Leon) establishes that existing federal air, climate, water, labor, and endangered species regulations are enforceable under state law. The measure is intended to maintain current regulations despite any future changes by President Donald Trump. Status: SB 49 passed the Senate and will next be considered in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.   Position: OPPOSED

Food & Beverages – School Sales

AB 841 (Weber) restricts foods and beverages sold in schools by prohibiting certain advertising including logos and company names. The measure also prevents schools from participating in a corporate incentive program that rewards pupils with free or discounted foods or beverages when students reach specific academic goals. Status: AB 841 passed the Assembly and is awaiting consideration in the Senate committee process. Position: OPPOSED

Labor

SB 63 (Jackson) mandates a new maternity and paternity leave policy on businesses and exposes businesses to litigation. The bill prohibits an employer with 20 or more employees within a 75 mile radius from refusing to allow an employee with over 12 months of service, with at least 1,250 hours of service in the past year, to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child. When combined with other leave, SB 63 creates a seven month protected leave of absence for certain employees. Status: Bill passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Position: OPPOSED

AB 450 (Chiu) prohibits an employer from providing a federal immigration enforcement agent access to a worksite without a properly executed warrant. The bill assumes noncompliance and needlessly puts employers who have not violated worker rights at legal risk and prevents employers from exercising discretion on their own property when dealing with federal immigration enforcement actions.  With severe fines for violations of the bill’s provisions, AB 450 is extremely punitive towards employers.  Status: The Assembly passed AB 450 and it will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 11. Position: OPPOSED

Water

AB 313 (Gray) restructures the administration and enforcement of water rights at the State Water Resources Control Board in order to bring more accountability and transparency to California’s water management structure. AB 313 creates a new Water Rights Division where an administrative law judge would preside over water rights matters to improve objectivity. The Division would conduct hearings and make a recommendation to the board, which could accept, reject or modify recommendations. Status: The bill was approved by the Assembly and will be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 11. Position: SUPPORT

SB 252 (Dodd) adds prescriptive requirements onto individuals applying for new well permits in critically overdrafted basins and undermines the locally driven, collaborative Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) process. The bill requires a well applicant to provide an extensive list of information, such as: a map of the location of the well, capacity and estimated pumping rate for the well, anticipated pumping schedule, and estimated annual extraction volume. Also, a well applicant must notify all adjacent landowners of the intent to obtain a new well permit. Status: SB 252 passed the Senate and will be heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee on July 11. Position: OPPOSED

SB 623 (Monning) establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in which funds are available upon appropriation to the State Water Resources Control Board. SB 623 requires the Board to expend funds for grants, loans, contracts, or services to assist those without access to safe and affordable drinking water. A solution for disadvantaged communities is needed to help ensure families have clean drinking water, including those in rural and agricultural areas. Ag Council has been engaged in stakeholder discussions to address drinking water issues and to help develop a statewide strategy going forward.  SB 623 is the legislative vehicle to address these issues. Status: The Senate approved SB 623 and the bill awaits consideration in the Assembly. Position: SUPPORT IN CONCEPT

OPPOSED BILLS THAT HAVE STALLED OR FAILED PASSAGE IN 2017

Air Quality/Climate Change

AB 378 (C. Garcia) mandates the Air Resources Board (ARB) to account for the social costs of emissions and greenhouse gases when adopting regulations. AB 378 authorizes ARB to adopt regulations establishing a market-based compliance mechanism to meet the greenhouse reduction targets of 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. The bill requires ARB, with local air districts, to adopt emissions standards for criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants for facilities in the cap and trade program. Allowances would only be allocated to facilities meeting those air pollutant emissions standards for criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants. Status: FAILED PASSAGE – After holding the vote open for nearly an hour, AB 378 failed passage on the Assembly floor by a vote of 35-39 and six abstentions. Position: OPPOSED

Environment

AB 975 (Friedman) makes it easier to designate Wild and Scenic areas and adds further land use restrictions in California where streams and rivers are already protected by multiple state and federal agencies that monitor and regulate activities near streams and rivers. Also, the bill expands the areas that could be designated as Wild and Scenic from adjacent to a river to one-quarter mile on either side of the river and expands the types of areas that could be considered Wild and Scenic. AB 975 could potentially adversely impact water rights, water supply and future water operations. Status: BILL STALLED – AB 975 was not considered in the Assembly because it did not have the votes to pass. Position: OPPOSED

Health Care

SB 562 (Lara) creates a universal single payer health care system, which will result in higher taxes and unsustainable costs. A fiscal analysis states the cost will be $400 billion per year to cover all health care and administrative costs, with half of that coming from existing federal, state and local taxes. The other $200 billion would have to derive from new taxes. One potential method being discussed to cover this enormous cost is a payroll tax on employers with a rate of 15 percent of earned income. Status: BILL STALLED – After passing the Senate, SB 562 was removed from further consideration in the Assembly due to the costs associated with implementing the bill and the lack of a funding mechanism. Position: OPPOSED

Pesticides

SB 602 (Allen) requires the labeling of seeds and plants treated with neonicotinoids (neonics). The bill is unwarranted, not based in science and threatens agriculture given that neonics are used to fight pests that transmit serious diseases endangering agricultural commodities (e.g. Asian citrus psyllid). The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is responsible for the risk assessment and risk management of registered pesticides. DPR will mitigate risks through appropriate label or use restrictions, if such actions are scientifically justified. Status: BILL STALLED – SB 602 stalled on the Senate floor because it did not have enough votes for passage. Position: OPPOSED 

Ag Council Welcomes Grange Co-Op as a New Member

Grange Logo_no elevatorAg Council is pleased to welcome our newest member, Grange Co-Op, which recently expanded into California with a Yuba City location. The cooperative began in 1934 with 99 farmers in Southern Oregon who invested $10 each to form a cooperative. More than 80 years later, their investment has grown into a thriving business focused on serving agricultural communities in Oregon and California.

Grange Co-op locations offer farm and ranch products, crop protection tools, hardware, clothing, as well as camping, fishing, boating and hunting gear. Whenever possible, Grange Co-op offers locally sourced products that support the communities it serves.

Ag Council is excited to have Grange Co-op join our association, and we look forward to working with the cooperative. Please click HERE to learn more about Grange Co-Op.