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in the KNOW

June 14, 2013

Legislature Passes On-Time Budget

From left to right: President pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Governor Jerry Brown and Speaker John Perez (D-LA) - photo by Rich Pedroncelli, courtesy of the SF Chronicle.

From left to right: President pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Governor Jerry Brown and Speaker John Perez (D-LA) – photo by Rich Pedroncelli, courtesy of the SF Chronicle.

 

 

Today, the Legislature approved a $96 billion state budget for 2013-2014 after a deal was cut earlier this week among Governor Jerry Brown, Speaker John Pérez (D-LA) and President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). Both houses approved the budget on party-line votes: 28-10 in the Senate and 54-25 in the Assembly. Several trailer bills, which detail specific budget changes, are still working their way through the Legislature at this time and are expected to be finalized by tomorrow.

Ag Issues in the Budget
Of importance to Ag Council members, the budget does not contain a fertilizer tax, which Ag Council actively opposed in the Legislature and our members advocated against during our recent Legislative Day.

However, the budget does contain an increase in water fees on farmers for the State Water Resources Control Board to hire seven staff members to increase oversight and enforcement of agricultural wastewater discharges. This cost is on top of other water user fees already being proposed at the State Water Board, which will impact farmers, dairymen and food processors.

Ag Council is working along with other agricultural organizations to oppose this water fee increase in the budget by asking Governor Brown to use his line item veto authority to eliminate this particular appropriation.

Rainy Day Fund & Social Issues in the Budget
Broadly, the budget agreement utilizes the Governor’s more conservative tax revenue estimate rather than the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which recently projected $3.2 billion more in state revenues than the Governor.

Among non-ag related provisions, the budget contains a $1.1 billion rainy day reserve fund for contingencies, which is a key element for Governor Brown. The budget also includes funding increases for mental health programs, state courts, and restores dental coverage in the Medi-Cal program. In addition, the budget directs more money to schools where over half of the students are poor or learning English, and it funds one of Speaker Perez’s priorities, the “Middle Class Scholarship” program, for college students in California.

The Legislature is required by the California Constitution to approve a budget by June 15 each year.  The budget now moves to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for consideration.

Labor Bill Blocked in Committee

A measure that would expand mandatory mediation under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act did not garner enough votes to move out of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee this week. Ag Council and many other ag organizations strongly oppose the bill, SB 25, authored by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). The bill is sponsored by the United Farm Workers.

SB 25 needed four votes to pass, and it received three votes in favor. The two GOP members on the Committee, Assemblyman Gorell (R-Camarillo) and Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), voted against the bill. In addition, Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) intentionally did not vote on this bill, which prevented it from being approved in Committee.

As background, SB 25 would expand mediation to all future contract negotiations and allow collective bargaining agreements created by mediators. Agricultural workers would be unionized years—and in some cases decades—after a union deserted negotiations, and SB 25 would require those workers to support the union financially regardless of whether those workers chose union representation.

It is possible this measure could return prior to the end of the legislative session this year, so Ag Council will continue to watch for and oppose any future iteration of SB 25.

Click HERE to read a SacBee article regarding SB 25.

Nishio to be Honored at State Fair Gala

The upcoming California State Fair Gala on June 28 will honor one of Ag Council’s member representatives, Ed Nishio, Vice President and Relationship Manager of CoBank’s Regional Agribusiness Banking Group, with the 2013 Agriculturalist of the Year Award.

For over 30 years, Ed has demonstrated he is a strong supporter of ag businesses throughout the Western United States. He is known for helping the farming community meet ever-changing financial requirements and providing essential financing to help ag businesses gain financial health. Ed’s wisdom and strategic advice has played a vital role to the growth of many businesses throughout his career.

Ag Council encourages our members to attend this year’s California State Fair Gala in support of Ed Nishio and his many years of commitment and service to our industry.

For more information about the California State Fair Gala, and to purchase tickets or submit donation items to the silent auction, please contact event coordinator Scott Tanimoto via email at: stanimoto@calexpo.com or call (916) 274-0477.

Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center

Ag Council Allied Member, Bayer CropScience, broke ground recently on its North American Bee Care Center. The roughly 6,000 square foot state of the art building will promote worldwide bee health initiatives to support scientific research and help educate stakeholders and the general public about the significance of honey bees to agriculture.

The Bee Care Center will include a full laboratory and teaching apiary, honey extraction and workshop space, interactive learning center, in addition to meeting, as well as training and presentation facilities for beekeepers, farmers and educators.

According to the United State Department of Agriculture’s recent assessment, bees are suffering from a complex set of stressors and there is a need for stakeholders to collaborate to promote best management practices. The Bee Care Center is being developed to carry out these objectives. As such, the Center will bring together technological, scientific and academic resources to protect and improve honey bee health and sustainable agriculture.

To read more about the North American Bee Care Center located in North Carolina, click HERE.