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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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APRIL 27, 2007 California Farm Bureau Friday Review
SB 59-Water Storage,
SB 180-UFW Sponsored legislation,
AB 1180-Conservation Easements,
SB 446-Timber and Forestland,
AB 771-Citrus,
AB 844-Metal Theft,
AB 1100-Animal Cloning,
AB 1634-Pet Spaying and Neutering,
SB 672-Career Technical Education,
SB 311-Weed Management Areas,
SB 974-Ports,
AB 744-Off Highway Vehicles and ATV's,
SB 773-Livestock Carriers

SB 59 (Cogdill) died in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in a party-line vote. SB 59 had featured as its principal element a $4.5 billion bond package for water supplies, including a $4 billion package for two new surface storage facilities at the proposed Sites Reservoir site and the proposed Temperance Flat Reservoir site. The bill had also provided for $1 billion in funds for Delta sustainability. CFBF supported the surface storage component of this bill. The Governor has indicated an intent to continue to move forward on surface storage, but prospects for legislative passage of a surface storage measure during the remainder of this legislative term are uncertain.

SB 180 (Migden, D-San Francisco) UFW sponsored legislation to circumvent the secret ballot election process, under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, has passed its first policy committee. The measure passed the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on a straight partisan vote. If enacted it would strip farm workers of their fundamental and democratic right in deciding whether they want union representation through a secret ballot election. It would replace secret ballots with an unprotected process where union organizers would provide employees with a card for their signature stating they want a union to be their representative. This process only undermines the right of employees to cast a secret ballot free from the fear of coercion.

SB180 now goes to the Senate Appropriation Committee before going to the Senate Floor. Farm Bureau will soon be sending out a “Farm Team Alert” to encourage County Farm Bureaus and their members to write their State Senators asking for a “NO” vote.

AB 1180 (Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo), which would allow the director of the California Department of Conservation (DOC) to administer grants from sources other than the California Farmland Conservancy Program Fund (CFCPF) for the acquisition of voluntary agricultural conservation easements, has been unanimously approved by both the Assembly Natural Resources and Agriculture Committees. This measure is being sponsored by the Schwarzenegger Administration to allow DOC greater access to funds approved as part of the infrastructure bond package and Prop. 84. For example, Proposition 1E, the Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Bond Act of 2006, provides $290 million for the protection, creation, and enhancement of flood protection corridors and bypasses through acquisition of easements to protect or enhance flood protection corridors, while preserving agricultural or wildlife uses. Since the CFCPF cannot be used for easements that restrict agricultural practices, AB 1180 is needed to allow the director access to funding for the propose of protecting multiple resources on the same land while requiring minor compromise of the exclusive agricultural or habitat use. The restrictions on the current or reasonably foreseeable agricultural use would be on the areas of the land not in cultivation. If the property meets the qualification for the grant as cultivated land, then the land can continue to be cultivated. AB 1180 was recommended for consent in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 466 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) would penalize landowners for timber and forestland conversions by requiring a landowner to set aside two acres of forestland or timberland, either in fee or by conservation easement, for each acre of timberland or forestland that is proposed to be converted to another use. In addition, the mitigation lands shall be managed in accordance with the California Climate Action Registry Forestry Protocols. To appease the opposition, Senator Steinberg has amended the bill to include the creation of a working group on the Board of Forestry to look into potential solutions for regulatory burdens forest landowners currently face. Despite this amendment, CFBF remains opposed to the bill, which passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on a party line vote this week. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 771 (De Leon, D-Los Angeles) passed unanimously out of the Assembly Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. At one time this bill would have provided the Secretary of Food and Agriculture with the authority to create regulations regarding seedless citrus in the Counties of Fresno, Kern, Madera, and Tulare. However, the bill has since been amended to delete all provisions relating to seedless citrus. The bill now gives the existing California Citrus Advisory Committee the authority to hold product for inspection. The Agriculture Committee made it clear that it wants to re-hear the bill should it be amended to include provisions related to bees or seedless citrus. CFBF has no position on AB 771, but will continue to track legislation for amendments that include language addressing seedless citrus.

CFBF’s sponsored bill, AB 844 (Berryhill, R-Modesto), passed unanimously out of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on Tuesday. This bill will reduce the incidence of metal theft by limiting the market for stolen metals. Both Assembly Member Berryhill and Assembly Member Galgiani presented convincing testimony on AB 844, as did a number of Farm Bureau members, representatives of the utility and communications industries, and law enforcement. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has not officially taken a position on the bill, but that didn’t prevent them from raising concerns before the committee. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a hearing on its potential fiscal impacts to the state.

AB 1100 (Ruskin, D-Redwood City) passed out of the Assembly Health Committee on a party line vote. This bill would require the labeling of meat and milk from cloned animals or their progeny. This bill is almost identical to Senator Migden’s SB 63, however AB 1100 includes a provision recognizing that federal law preempts mandatory state labeling programs and would only go into effect to the extent that federal law allows. Regardless of the federal preemption issue, CFBF has significant concerns with requiring labeling of a product that is no different from its conventional counterpart. Mandatory labeling of cloned product will ultimately act to ban the technology due to increased identification and tracking costs. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. CFBF is opposed to both AB 1100 and SB 63.

AB 1634 (Levine, D-Van Nuys), which requires all dogs and cats to be spayed and neutered unless they meet certain exemptions, passed out of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a party line vote on Tuesday. CFBF opposes this bill and is working jointly with the California Cattlemen’s Association and the Outdoor Heritage Alliance to raise the issue of how this bill impacts California’s working dogs. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

CFBF is a member of a coalition supporting efforts to enhance career technical education at the high school level. GetREAL, Relevance in Education and Learning, has been active in sponsoring and building support for several bills that will enhance career technical education programs at the high school level.

This week SB 672 (Torlakson, D-Antioch) passed out of the Senate Education Committee on a vote of 5-2. SB 672, commencing with the 2013-14 school year, would also require pupils, while in grades 9 to 12, inclusive, to complete 2 courses in career technical education to receive a high school graduation diploma. High school agriculture courses would serve to meet this graduation requirement. CFBF supports this bill.

AB 1414 (Hancock, D-Berkley) The Career Technical Education Revitalization Act of 2007, passed out of the Assembly Education committee on an 8-0 vote. AB 1414 provides career technical education funding for additional credentialed career technical education teachers, innovated career technical education projects, and other career technical education programmatic support. It is expected that this bill will help enhance agriculture programs at the high school level. CFBF supports this bill.

SB 311 (Cogdill, R-Fresno) will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee April 30th. This measure would provide an additional $1,000,000 each year to the state’s existing network of Weed Management Areas (WMAs) administered by the Department of Food and Agriculture. Every dollar provided by the state to the program since 1999 was matched 3-to-1 through federal matching funds, grants, private donations, and volunteer work. The WMA program is composed of local, state and federal agencies, private landowners, farmers, ranchers and conservationists. This cooperative partnership has been successful in the effective treatment of over 128,421 acres and the eradication of over 2,015 high priority weed infestations in California. CFBF is in support.

SB 974 (Lowenthal, D-Long Beach) passed easily out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on a 6-0 vote and will be heard next in the Senate. This bill would impose a $30 per twenty-foot equivalent unit on cargo owners to pay for pollution mitigation, and highway infrastructure programs at the Ports of Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles. These fees are not imposed at other North American ports and would create an incentive for shippers to move their freight through other ports, placing California businesses at a significant competitive disadvantage. CFBF continues to work with a coalition of businesses in opposition.

AB 744 (Parra, D-Hanford) relative to off-highway motor vehicles will become a two-year bill. The author has pulled the bill with the intention of drafting language to add OHV/ATVs used by farmers and ranchers, exclusively in their agricultural operations to the California Vehicle Code as an implement of husbandry. CFBF will be working with the author’s staff for reintroduction of the bill in the 2008 legislative session.

SB 773 (Pat Wiggins, D-Eureka) will be heard next on the Senate floor. The bill would allow licensed carriers of livestock utilizing semi-trailer combinations, which do not exceed 70 feet in total length and kingpin to rear axle settings of 43 feet, access to Humboldt and Del Norte counties via Highway 101. This exemption is vital to the lasting viability of the livestock industry in these two rural counties. SB 773 requires the California Highway Patrol in conjunction with Cal Trans to report to the legislature by January 1, 2011 on the effect this exemption has had on public safety for this section of the highway. CFBF is in support.

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