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in the KNOW

March 30, 2017

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Gov. Brown flanked by Assembly Speaker Rendon on the left and Senate President de Leon on the right during their announcement on the transportation deal. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Gov. Brown and Democrat Leaders Unveil Major Transportation Proposal

On Thursday this week, Governor Brown and Democrat leaders announced a $52 billion road and transportation infrastructure package in California to repair roads, freeways and bridges, as well as invest in transit, through higher vehicle registration fees and gas taxes. It remains unclear as to whether the Legislature can attain the two-thirds vote needed for passage of the transportation package.

Governor Brown said, “California has a massive backlog of broken infrastructure that has been neglected far too long. Fixing the roads will not get cheaper by waiting – or ignoring the problem. This is a smart plan that will improve the quality of life in California.”

Among other revenue sources in the proposal, gas excise taxes would increase by 12 cents per gallon, which is a 43 percent increase. Future gas excise taxes would rise automatically with inflation. Diesel excise taxes would be raised by 20 cents per gallon. Between higher vehicle registration fees and gas and diesel tax increases, over $5 billion a year would be generated over 10 years.

Provisions to ensure funds are spent on transportation, and not raided for other purposes, are included in the proposal.

Though Democrats hold a two-thirds supermajority of seats in both the Assembly and Senate, there is uncertainty regarding passage of the transportation package given that gas tax increases and vehicle registration fee hikes are unpopular with many voters. The Legislature is expected to vote on the plan next week.

To read more about the transportation proposal, click HERE.

ARB Approves Plan to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved a strategic plan on March 23 to curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). SLCPs include methane from manure at dairies, exhaust from diesel engines and hydrofluorocarbons from refrigerators. The plan is considered to be the most rigorous and comprehensive strategy in the country for controlling sources of methane emissions. ARB and other government agencies will now need to write detailed rules for achieving the reductions.

Last year, Governor Brown signed SB 1383 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), which prohibits the ARB from regulating methane from dairy and livestock operations until 2024 and mandates that future rules can only reduce methane emissions from manure management operations up to 40 percent below 2013 level by 2030. Until then, reductions will be voluntary and funded by various sources, including grants, pilot projects by utilities and the sale of credits under the state’s low-carbon fuel standard.

The targets laid out in the plan are very ambitious, and Ag Council testified at the hearing that more research into alternative methane reduction projects and incentive dollars would be needed to achieve the state’s goals. Ag Council will remain engaged as this process moves forward and will participate in an initial dairy and livestock workgroup meeting to address barriers to methane reduction projects on May 23, 2017.

Click HERE for ARB’s press release. For more information please contact Rachael O’Brien at (916) 443-4887.

DPR Issues Revised Proposed Rules for Pesticide Use Near Schools

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a revised proposal in mid-March to regulate the use of agricultural pesticides near public schools and daycare centers. The proposed regulation would be the first such statewide standard in the nation and will affect approximately 2,500 growers in California.

The revised proposal would ban certain pesticide applications and establish a quarter-mile buffer zone around public schools and licensed child-care centers, effective from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

The revised proposal removed the requirement that farmers notify school sites/licensed child day care facilities and county agricultural commissioners before applying pesticides 48 hours before they occur. However, farmers would still be required to provide annual notification of the pesticides they expect to apply within a quarter-mile of these facilities. The revision also clarifies the definition of “school site” and other terms.

The regulation is anticipated to become effective January 1, 2018. A summary of the highlights of the revised school regulation is available at the link below.

With changes of this magnitude impacting farmers throughout California, including our members, Ag Council will submit comments on the revised regulation by the April 4 deadline.

To learn more, click HERE.

In Case You Missed It

Ag Council recently released its 2016 Impact Report detailing the association’s public policy advocacy efforts in the regulatory and legislative arenas on behalf of our members. Events such as the annual meeting, legislative conference and tours are also featured, along with photos.

Click HERE to read the Impact Report.