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California Farm Bureau Friday Review, 7/6/07
AB 1223-Aggregate Electric Accounts
ACA 8-Eminent Domain
SB 303-Local Jurisdiction Zoning
SB 974-Container Fees
AB 844-Metal Theft
AB 771-Seedless Citrus Buffer Zones

JULY 6, 2007

AB 1223, by Assemblymember Juan Arambula (D-Fresno) was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on July 3rd, but was pulled on the day of the hearing. AB 1223 would allow agricultural customers using solar or wind self-generation to aggregate electric accounts for purposes of net metering. The next step for this bill remains uncertain. Efforts of members to contact the Committee members were much appreciated.

A constitutional amendment purportedly intended to address governmental abuses of the power of eminent domain was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a straight party-line vote with the Republicans voting “NO.” Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 8 (Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate) is sponsored by the League of Cities and the California Redevelopment Association, the very agencies that take private property in order to transfer the land to favored developers for “redevelopment.” According to the Judiciary Committee’s analysis, ACA 8 is said to be a “restrained response” to the controversial Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed the seizure of private property for private reuse. This proposal, which apparently does not have the required Republican support to make it to the ballot, would only prevent the taking of single-family, owner-occupied homes for redevelopment, while offering no protection to apartment buildings, businesses, churches or farmland. There are also two huge loopholes that would allow the continued taking of homes for private purposes: there is no protection if you’ve lived in your home for less than a year or if your home is “incidental” to a public project. Thus, homes and small businesses could be condemned for a public project and other single-family, owner-occupied homes could be still taken if they are incidental to the project. Farm Bureau and the National Federation of Independent Businesses testified in opposition to ACA 8 and called attention to the more meaningful reform that we are sponsoring for the June 2008 ballot.

The roll call on ACA 8 was:
“AYES” (7): Jones, Evans, Feuer, Krekorian, Laird, Levine, and Lieber
“NOES” (3): Tran, Adams, and Keene.

A measure that would have required local jurisdictions to zone and designate enough land for a 10-year supply of housing was held in the Assembly Local Government Committee. SB 303 (Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego) was sponsored by the California Major Builders Council (a coalition of the 30 largest home builders in the state) and would have provided a state mandate to cities and counties to convert nearly 600,000 acres of farmland residential use in the next two
house element cycles. Opponents argued that compliance with state’s housing law has never been higher with 80 percent of the jurisdictions in compliance, representing 88 percent of the state’s population. Others argued that the bill continued the builders attempts to elevate the housing element in general plans above all other elements, at the potential expense of other important goals related to encouraging infill, improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, planning for flood hazards, and farmland protection. Farm Bureau testified in opposition and stressed our strong belief in local control of land use planning.

SB 974 (Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach), the measure that would levy a $30 per twenty-foot equivalent unit on shipping containers continues to sail through the legislative process on a strictly partisan vote in spite of the numerous arguments to its negative impacts to California’s competitiveness in the global market place. SB 974 proposes that these fees be applied to all imports and exports moving through the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland. The cost of doing business for California’s vital agriculture is already higher than out-of-state and foreign competitors, which puts agriculture at a competitive disadvantage. Farm Bureau is opposed along with over a hundred businesses and organizations who believe that while it is important to improve port security, efficiency and to reduce pollution around ports, this $500,000,000 per year tax on all containerized cargo will do nothing but hurt California’s economy. SB 974 will be heard next in the Assembly Transportation Committee on July 9th.

The Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee failed to pass AB 844 (Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto) this week. This was CFBF’s sponsored bill to reduce the incidence of metal theft by changing payment methods and improving record keeping requirements for copper, aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and bronze. The final vote was 3-3, with Senators Aanestad, Denham, and Florez voting aye. However, Senator Florez only voted aye after making sure that his vote in support of the bill would not be enough to pass the bill out of committee. CFBF was disappointed that committee members did not see the value in supporting our attempt to address the issue of metal theft, particularly when so many businesses are negatively impacted by the issue. CFBF will now work with cities and counties to pass local ordinances that will reduce the market available for stolen metal.

AB 771 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles), a bill addressing coexistence issues between seedless citrus and honey bees, passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee this week on a 4-1 vote, with Senator Denham being the lone no vote. The committee worked out last minute amendments to the bill that allowed CFBF to remove its opposition. Readers will remember from last week’s Friday Review that two outstanding issues of concern remained, right to farm protections and fees. The sponsor agreed to add right to farm protections back into the bill and clarified that seedless citrus growers benefiting from any program will pay the costs of the program. The Secretary of CDFA can expand fees to anyone that sees a new benefit from the program, but keeping the status quo is not deemed to be a benefit. CFBF will remain engaged in this issue regardless of the outcome of the legislation to work towards a solution that is agreeable to all parties. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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