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in the KNOW

June 6, 2014

Democrats Approve Sen. de Leon as the Next Senate Leader

Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) speaking before the California State Senate.  Photo courtesy of Senator de Leon's website: http://sd22.senate.ca.gov.

Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) speaking before the California State Senate. Photo courtesy of Senator de Leon’s website: http://sd22.senate.ca.gov.

In a much-anticipated move, the Senate Democratic Caucus approved Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) this week as the next leader of the California State Senate. Previously, he served as a member of the Assembly. Prior to that, he worked for the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times after the caucus meeting, Senator de Leon said, “I’m deeply honored that my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus have bestowed on me the awesome responsibility to lead the Senate of the most prestigious legislative bodies in the country.”

On June 16, a resolution is expected to be formally considered in the full Senate to approve Senator de Leon as the new leader. Senator de Leon officially takes the leadership helm in November. This means the current leader, Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), remains in place through the end of the legislative term, which concludes in late August.

GMO Labeling Bill Fails in State Senate

Ag Council is pleased to report that the bill to mandate the labeling of genetically engineered food, SB 1381, failed passage in the California State Senate last week. Proponents of the bill were unable to garner the 21 votes needed for passage in the Senate.

Stopping SB 1381 was a high priority for Ag Council as the measure would have increased food costs for consumers, expanded liability for Ag Council members and was not grounded in science.

Ag Council advocated against SB 1381 along with a coalition of other organizations, and we thank our members who helped us oppose this bill over the past few months.

Governor Releases Groundwater Proposal Ag Council at the Discussion Table

Recently, Governor Jerry Brown’s office released proposed regulations for groundwater management. Most of the work at the state level to date has focused on water quality, particularly for disadvantaged communities. Now, the Administration’s draft is one of several plans dedicated to addressing groundwater quantity issues this legislative session.

The Administration maintains that the groundwater management recommendations recently released should be viewed in a broader context, including the need to improve surface supplies.

The goal of the Administration’s plan is to maintain local control of groundwater management. Additionally, the plan provides tools to empower local agencies in the development and implementation of groundwater management plans.

Under the proposal, the State Water Resources Control Board would step in as a “backstop” when or if a local jurisdiction fails to develop or achieve groundwater management plan goals.

The plan has six elements:
• Adopts the State Definition of “Sustainable Groundwater Management”
• Recognizes Groundwater Recharge as a Beneficial Use
• Provides State Technical Assistance to Local Agencies
• Empowers Local Agencies to Achieve Sustainability
• Improves the Linkage Between Land-Use and Groundwater Planning
• Provides for State Backstop Authority When Local Action has not Occurred or has been Insufficient

This proposal is currently in the discussion phase. Therefore, changes are expected over the coming months. Ag Council is heavily engaged in the negotiations as it is possible that this, or a similar proposal, could move forward in the legislative process this year.

A few legislative bills relating to groundwater supply are pending in the Capitol. However, with the governor participating in this issue, he will likely drive the groundwater issue forward on his terms.

Ag Council maintains that attempts to regulate groundwater are hollow without meaningful solutions to address surface supplies in California. In this vein, we continue to engage on groundwater regulations and discussions surrounding the water bond. The Administration’s draft groundwater plan can be found by clicking HERE.

Drought Study Discloses Initial Costs to Ag

A preliminary study released in late May by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences reveals the drought may cost Central Valley agriculture an estimated $1.7 billion and leave 14,500 farmworkers jobless this year.

About 410,000 acres of irrigated farmland–approximately 6 percent–will be left unplanted in California due to the lack of water, according to the study.

The Center will release a final report this summer regarding the impact of the drought on irrigated agriculture. To read the preliminary findings, click HERE.

Ag Council Legislative Day is June 17

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Ag Council invites members to join us for our annual Legislative Day at the Capitol on June 17 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. We hope you can participate in this opportunity to reach out to legislators on key issues affecting your business.

If you are unable to join us in the morning, members are invited to our Legislative Reception at Chops Steak Seafood & Bar in Sacramento at 5 p.m.

Please contact Rebecca Osumi for more information or to RSVP. She is available at: rebecca@agcouncil.org or ph. (916) 443-4887.