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in the KNOW

July 17, 2015

Legislative Update

California State Capitol

California State Capitol

This week, the California State Legislature faced a deadline to move bills out of policy committees and into fiscal committees prior to the annual summer recess. With the recess now underway beginning today, legislators are working in their respective districts until the Legislature reconvenes on August 17 for further business.

Below is an overview of some of the bills Ag Council has been engaged in recently on behalf of our members, along with the status of those bills and Ag Council’s position. As always, please do not hesitate to contact Ag Council if you have any questions ph. (916) 443-4887.

Water Bills

AB 1390 – Improving the efficiency of groundwater adjudications
Position – Support

AB 1390 by Assemblyman Alejo (D-Watsonville) makes the groundwater adjudication process more efficient and facilitates early settlement of groundwater adjudications whereby courts determine groundwater rights in a basin. AB 1390 addresses delays in groundwater adjudications through the development of standardized forms, processes and requirements. The bill reduces costs on the courts, claimants and local entities, and AB 1390 protects water rights.

AB 1390 passed the Assembly, and Ag Council recently spoke in support of the bill during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary. It awaits review in the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

SB 226 – Changes to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
Position – Opposed

Ag Council is opposed to SB 226 by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) because the measure makes changes to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, approved in 2014, in a manner that raises concerns about water rights. For example, SB 226 allows the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to intervene in a court proceeding on behalf of the environment in groundwater adjudications, which is a change to existing law. SB 226 was approved in the Senate and is pending in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Labor Legislation

AB 561 – Limits due process at ALRB
Position – Opposed

AB 561 by Assemblywoman Campos (D-San Jose) limits an employer’s due process rights for appeals of an order by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) and may discourage employers from appealing an adverse order altogether. The bill mandates that an employer, seeking a review of an ALRB decision, post a bond in the amount of the entire economic value of the order as determined by ALRB. United Farm Workers is sponsoring this bill.

The measure passed the Assembly and awaits consideration in the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Ag Council and other ag groups continue to oppose AB 561.

SB 3 – Minimum wage increase
Position – Opposed

SB 3, by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), raises the minimum wage to $11 per hour in January 2016 and increases it to $13 per hour beginning July 2017. SB 3 then raises minimum wage according to inflation in subsequent years.

Ag Council and numerous other ag and business groups are advocating against this measure given that SB 3 imposes more costs onto the business community in California and limits job growth. California’s minimum wage is currently $9 per hour and will be raised to $10 in January 2016 under the existing law passed by the Legislature in 2013.

SB 3 passed the Senate, and Ag Council recently spoke in opposition to the bill in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment. The measure is pending consideration in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations at this time.

Use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture

SB 27 – Antibiotics use in livestock & poultry
Position: Neutral /Working with the author


The Assembly Agriculture Committee approved SB 27 in early July. The bill, by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo), limits antibiotics use in livestock and poultry. Beginning January 2018, the bill prohibits the administration of medically important antibiotics to livestock unless ordered by a veterinarian through a prescription or via a veterinary feed directive. Medically important antibiotics are those used in humans, as well as livestock and poultry. SB 27 also prohibits the administration of a medically important antibiotic to livestock solely to increase weight gain or to improve feed efficiency.

Ag Council and other ag groups remain engaged in negotiations on SB 27 on behalf of our members. Given the amendments recently accepted by the author, Ag Council took a neutral position on the bill in the Assembly Agriculture Committee and conveyed this position during the July hearing. Some of the crucial issues addressed in the bill include the following:
1) Removing an assessment on producers from the bill
2) Significantly lowering the fines for violations
3) Ensuring that medically important antibiotics can be used to prevent disease or infection
4) The monitoring program is voluntary, not mandatory
5) Requiring that the monitoring program be developed in coordination with the federal government while ensuring it is compatible, not duplicative, of federal efforts and
6) Any information/data provided under SB 27 shall be held confidential and not disclosed unless aggregated to prevent the identification of a farm or business.

The Senate approved SB 27, and it awaits consideration in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Energy


SB 350 – Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act
Position: Opposed

Ag Council opposes SB 350 by Senator de Leon (D-Los Angeles). SB 350 mandates a 50 percent reduction in the use of petroleum-based fuels, requires a 50 percent reduction in energy use in existing buildings, and dictates a 50 percent increase in power generation from renewable energy sources – all by 2030. SB 350 is costly and threatens energy affordability.

The bill passed the Senate and recently Ag Council opposed the measure during a hearing in the Committee on Natural Resources. It is now pending in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Climate Change

SB 32 – Greenhouse gas emissions
Position: Opposed 

SB 32 by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This bill goes too far. Instead, the Legislature should conduct oversight and review what has worked within the current cap and trade program to better understand how to move forward and where improvements can be made. The Senate approved SB 32, and it will soon be reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

In late April, Governor Brown issued an executive order establishing an aggressive target for California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. The Governor views this action as an interim step toward later attaining an 80 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050.

Excavation

SB 119 – Excavations/811-Call Before You Dig
Position: Working with the author of the bill

SB 119 establishes enforcement provisions relating to excavation violations under the 811-Call Before You Dig program. The bill is authored by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo). Because SB 119 deals with digging in the soil, Ag Council and others in the ag community continue to work with Senator Hill on the best approach to achieve the goals of SB 119 to protect subsurface installations.

SB 119 passed the Senate and it awaits action in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.