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in the KNOW

November 4, 2016

Pres. Obama Endorses Assembly Candidates in Effort to Influence Tight Races

State Capitol

State Capitol

With only a few days until the November 8 election, President Barak Obama recently endorsed three State Assembly candidates competing in tough races in California. The endorsed candidates are: Cheryl Cook-Kallio (Alameda and Contra Costa Counties), Al Muratsuchi (Los Angeles County) and Abigail Medina (San Bernardino County). The three Democrats are running against vulnerable GOP candidates in swing districts.

These and several other legislative races will determine whether Assembly Democrats will hold a two-thirds supermajority, which is 53 votes out of 80, after the election. Democrats in the Assembly only need to gain one additional seat to acquire a supermajority, and it is widely anticipated this will occur. A supermajority allows for easier passage of tax hikes, changes to ethics rules and the placement of constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot because Democrats would hold the two-thirds majority of votes required to pass such measures.

Read on to learn more about the competitive races where President Obama has chosen to weigh-in.

Incumbent Republican Catherine Baker is facing a challenge from Cheryl Cook-Kallio in Assembly District 16, which comprises parts of Contra Costa County and Alameda County. Baker is a key target this year given that she is the only Bay Area Republican in the Legislature. The race is the most expensive Assembly race in 2016. Baker received the endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle and is a prolific fundraiser. In addition to the endorsement from President Obama, Cook-Kallio has strong support from unions and Democrat leaders.

After beating Democrat Al Muratsuchi by just over 700 votes in 2014, incumbent Republican David Hadley is in tight race to hold onto Assembly District 66 in Los Angeles County. This is another expensive race and both Hadley and Muratsuchi have raised millions each to win the seat. Muratsuchi is working to try and link Hadley to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Muratsuchi is receiving broad support from Democrats throughout the state, in addition to President Obama’s endorsement.

Democrat Abigail Medina, a local school board member, took the top spot in the primary election by a few percentage points against incumbent Republican Mark Steinorth in this San Bernardino district. The Democrats chose to target Assembly District 40 because GOP registration has diminished over the past few years. Medina received an endorsement from President Barak Obama and also has support from: California Governor Jerry Brown, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, among others.

Vote No on Prop 53 and Prop 55

Ag Council’s Board of Directors recommends opposition to both Prop 53 and Prop 55 on the November ballot. Ag Council joins a broad and diverse bipartisan coalition of more than 275 groups opposed to Prop 53 as it would require statewide voter approval for state revenue bonds totaling more than $2 billion for a project that is funded, owned, or managed by the state. The measure will take away local control and could threaten water, road and other vital infrastructure projects needed to support our agricultural community.

Ag Council also opposes Prop 55 given that it would extend through 2030 the temporary personal income tax rate increases approved by voters in 2012 for the purpose of funding education and health care. Ag Council believes the temporary taxes should be allowed to expire as scheduled at the end of the 2018 tax year.

To read a deeper analysis of both Prop 53 and Prop 55, click HERE.

2016 Legislative Wrap-Up

This year, the California State Legislature sent Governor Jerry Brown 1,059 bills, and he signed 900 of those bills while vetoing 15 percent, which is a slightly higher veto rate than previous years. Though 2016 has been a challenging year on the legislative front, particularly with the measure to change agricultural overtime requirements among the 900 bills signed into state law, some positive actions did occur this year.

Ag Council was engaged in and helped seek passage of SB 1383 by Senator Lara (D-Bell Gardens). The methane portion of the bill creates needed parameters around the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) efforts to regulate manure methane emissions from dairies and livestock and gives more certainty to dairy farming families in the state. In addition, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved Ag Council’s audit request, championed by Senator Galgiani (D-Stockton), to determine compliance and enforcement of the Buy American requirement in schools under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education and participating in the school lunch and school breakfast programs.

2016 also included defensive wins to halt legislation harmful to agriculture and prevent such bills from becoming law. Ag Council and others worked together to stop legislation to further restrict pesticides, actively lobbied to prevent a ban on new groundwater wells in certain areas and successfully advocated against a food labeling measure requiring a food quality date. These were critical defensive victories during the course of the year on behalf of our members.

Click HERE to read details about the priority bills Ag Council was involved with this year in the California State Legislature and the outcome of that legislation.