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 MARCH 24, 2006  California Farm Bureau Friday Review

Beware if you have dust (aka PM 10) on your farm or ranch . Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter) has introduced
SB 1252 that will add an additional layer of civil penalty up to $25,000 per violation to be administered by the
state or any of the 35 California air districts for any discharge of particulate matter in violation of state or
federal ambient air quality standards.

Existing law already provides sufficient penalty provisions for violating state air quality statute and
regulations. In addition to being excessively punitive by allowing a regulator to impose two fines for the same
violation, SB 1252 increases the violation threshold to $50,000 in 2010. Current penalty provisions are based
on level of intent and occurrence of any injury resulting from the emission discharge. SB 1252 is based on
violation of an ambient air quality standard. It is not clear how this could be monitored since monitoring
devices for measuring these standards are not normally placed on private businesses and entities but in public
areas to measure ambient air quality. SB 1252 is redundant and punitive. CFBF will oppose this measure
when it is heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 3.

Another punitive air penalty bill, the Children's Breathing Rights Act, would increase the civil penalties for
violations of any air pollution law, regulation, emission limitation, permit condition, or filing requirements
from nonvehicular sources from $1,000 to $10,000. Be careful filling out your permit paperwork because SB
1205 (Martha Escutia, D-Whitter) could soon cost you a hefty fine. It would eliminate affirmative defenses
and civil liability provisions relating to violations of air quality laws so it would not make any difference if
your mistake was intentional or not. Starting June 1, 2007, an additional civil penalty of up to $100,000 per
day would be assessed for each violation committed by a serious and chronic violator of nonvehicular air
pollution laws. CFBF will be working with a large business coalition to oppose SB 1205 when it is heard on
April 4th in Senate Judiciary Committee.

Passing Smog Check does not necessarily mean your car does not smoke. AB 1870 (Sally Lieber, D-Mountain
View) would add a visible smoke test to the current vehicle inspection and maintenance (smog check) program
by January 1, 2008. Under current California law, the Department of Consumer Affairs does not require a
check for visible smoke as part of their routine smog check, which tests for exhaust emissions (gaseous
emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and oxides of nitrogen) and not the particulate matter (PM)
found in visible tailpipe smoke. Ironically, after the vehicle has already sailed through the smog test, it is up
to citizens to report the offensive vehicle on a hotline, or the vehicle might be pulled over by the California
Highway Patrol.

A smoking vehicle emits on average 90% more particulate emissions than a properly operating vehicle.
Recent research indicates that this smoke can be one of the most toxic of vehicular emissions. This bill
basically implements a recommendation identified in a joint report by the Bureau of Automotive Repair and
California Air Resources Board (September 2005), as well as the report prepared by the state’s Inspection and
Maintenance Review Committee (IMRC). The report states that the smoke inspection procedure should not
require additional equipment purchases by smog check stations and may "add a minute or two to the current
smog check inspection." It was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee on 3/20/06 on a
bipartisan vote of 10-2. CFBF supports.

AB 3011 (John Benoit, R-Palm Desert) is a multi-faceted bill that addresses new requirements for foreign
motor carriers entering the United States and the federal load securement rules recently enacted by Congress.
This bill would make it an infraction for a foreign motor carrier to operate within California without
registration, proof of financial responsibility and the required operating authority. Violation could be
punishable by a $1,000 fine, suspension of registration for all vehicles registered to that name, impoundment
of the vehicle and cargo and denial of entry into the U. S. until all requirements have been met.

AB 3011 would also mandate that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) adopt the new federal rules for safe
operation of vehicles and cargo securement for commercial vehicles, including commercial hay haulers. This
measure will exempt farmers, transporting their own hay or straw, when using a highway in the course of their
farming operation, from the new rules. CHP will continue to enforce the load securement requirements
currently in state law for this exempted group. CFBF is in support.

SB 1224 (Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata) passed out of the Senate Transportation and Housing committee on a 12-0
vote. This measure would extend indefinitely the exemption in current state law, that allows licensed carriers
of livestock utilizing semi-trailer combinations, which do not exceed 70 feet in total length and kingpin to rear
axle settings of 40 feet, access to Humboldt and Del Norte counties via Highway 101. CFBF is in support.
SB 1237 (Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria) was pulled from the Senate Transportation and Housing
committee agenda and will be heard in committee sometime in May. This measure would continue indefinitely
the exemption currently in law that allows agricultural product haulers to use motor truck two-pull trailer
combinations up to 75 feet in length. This exemption is very important to vegetable growers because it allows
the continued operation of the widely used motor truck-pull trailer combinations, and have been found to be
the easiest to handle and connect in the field, providing greater safety to farm workers. CFBF is in support.
AB 2479 (David Cogdill, R-Modesto) would reauthorize the Weed Management Area (WMA) program and
appropriate new funding. The WMA program, administered by the California Department of Food and
Agriculture, is a prime example of how state funds can be leveraged for extensive local efforts to control and
eradicate noxious weeds. Funding for this very successful program ended in 2004. Every dollar provided by
the state at the onset of the program in 2000 was matched 3-1 over through federal matching funds, grants,
private donations, and volunteer work. Farm Bureau is working closely the sponsors in support of AB 2479
The Senate’s Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on State Administration gave its unanimous support to
the Williamson Act Subvention program on Thursday, March 23rd. Chairman Mike Machado (D-Linden),
Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) and Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) all supported the Governor
Schwarzenegger’s recommended General Fund appropriation of $39,606,000. The Assembly’s counterpart
budget subcommittee, where there should also be strong bipartisan support, will take up the item on March
29th. The members of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #4 include: Chairman Rudy Bermúdez (D-
Norwalk), Juan Arambula (D-Fresno), Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine), Nicole Parra (D-Hanford) and Mike Villines

Farm Bureau and a broad coalition of other agricultural organizations have gone on record in opposition to AB
2443 (Johan Klehs, D-San Leandro) that would repeal the 65-year-old sales tax exemption on agricultural
fertilizers. This measure would reverse the state’s long held tax policy of not imposing the sales tax on basic
necessities of life, such as food, (or feed, seed, or fertilizer used to produce food for human consumption). The
repeal would also reverse policy on taxing the components of other taxable products to be sold by the
purchaser. Thus, AB 2443 would make the sales tax more regressive and impose the sales tax twice on the
same items.

The author intends to use the estimated $60M new taxes from farmers and ranchers to create two new
programs: one in the Department of Health Services to fund research on nitrate issues & water quality, and the
other at Cal-EPA to implement a Fertilizer Research & Education Program (FREP). The latter would be duplicative of a program by the exact same name in the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) that is funded through a mill assessment paid by fertilizer manufacturers and distributors. CDFA has administered an effective FREP for over 16 years with nearly $7M funding over 100 research projects, a third of which have dealt specifically with irrigation and nitrate issues. The current program has also provided an educational outreach program through the creation and implementation of best management practices on plant production techniques throughout California on scores of food and ornamental crops. AB 2443 appears to be a classic example of a solution in search of problem.

The State Groundwater Regulation Bill returns. During last year's legislative session, Senator Sheila Kuehl (D
- Santa Monica) was able to pass a bill which would have required individual farmers and ranchers to report
their groundwater pumping to California's water rights regulators. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the
measure, SB 820, for several reasons. One of the main reasons for the veto was that the information generated
by such reports would do little to provide useful information for groundwater management, and hence would
impose significant costs on family farms and ranches without no commensurate benefit to them or the public.

This year, Senator Kuehl has introduced another measure, SB 1640, which takes a different approach. The bill
calls for local monitoring of groundwater basins to develop a record over time that would show whether
groundwater basins are in recharge, stable, or overdraft conditions. If local water districts or voluntary
organizations did not carry out these monitoring functions, then the State's Department of Water Resources
would do the monitoring, and would charge a fee to each well owner in the basin to cover the costs.

The change in focus from individual well production reporting to basin monitoring is a welcome improvement
in the Senator's objectives. Improved locally developed information about groundwater conditions in basins
that are heavily pumped, particularly those in overdraft conditions, could significantly improve local
groundwater management and improve water supply reliability for family farms and ranchers. Well developed
baseline and historical information on local groundwater conditions could also be helpful in defending the
overlying groundwater rights of farmers and ranchers against increased pumping by non-overlying users such
as cities and developers.

But there are several issues that must be resolved before Farm Bureau could support such legislation. The first
and most important deals with which basins would have to be monitored. The Senator's view is that every
groundwater basin in the state should be monitored because the State of California owns the groundwater itself
and has regulatory authority over it under the public trust doctrine. This is a false view of groundwater. The
right to pump groundwater for use on overlying parcels is an intrinsic right that part of owning the land itself.

The Public Trust doctrine has been applied to many of the state's water resources, but always to surface water
that is either navigable or tributary to navigable water. There is no basis for the state to require monitoring of
groundwater conditions simply because the state does not own the groundwater in the first place.

Next, the DWR cannot be granted new fee authority to fund groundwater monitoring in basins where local
conditions do not justify the expense at a local level. Farm Bureau's experience with the DWR's watermaster
program shows that this will simply create upward spiraling costs with no local control or oversight.

We look forward to working with the Senator to try to resolve these and other issues, but remain vigilant to
protect the groundwater rights of California's family farmers and ranchers from unwarranted state regulation.




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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