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OCTOBER 26, 2007 California Farm Bureau Friday Review

The first year of the Regular Legislative Session is now officially over and the time has lapsed for the governor to sign bills into law or veto them. Farm Bureau fared very well with regard to the governor’s actions on bills.

Farm Bureau had specifically requested vetoes on eight key measures and Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed seven of those. He vetoed legislation on mandatory health insurance, use of cards or petitions for unionizing farm workers, farm labor contractor legislation, loss of emissions credits related to on-farm energy generation, cloned food labeling and elimination of agricultural representation on regional water boards. The governor also signed two Farm Bureau sponsored bills into law that create new local watermaster districts in Siskiyou and Shasta counties. We extend our appreciation to the governor for his support on this legislation.

The special legislative sessions on water and universal health care have not produced any results at this point although the administration continues to negotiate with legislative leaders on both fronts. For further information on all of the above see below.

SB 180 and SB 650 (Carole Migden, D-San Francisco). The Governor vetoed both of these UFW sponsored bills that would have deprived agricultural employees of their right to a secret ballot election for unionization. The measures would have instead allowed farm workers to select union representation through a sign-up process known as “Card Check”. SB 180 and SB 650 were identical except that the latter measure included a five year sunset clause. CFBF was opposed both bills.
SB 63 (Carole Migden, D-San Francisco) was vetoed by the Governor. This bill would have required all meat and milk from cloned animals or their progeny to be labeled and would have required sellers of all cloned livestock or their progeny to disclose this fact at the time of the sale. This bill would have acted as a ban on the technology. Labeling a product that is no different from its conventional counterpart provides no useful information to consumers. CFBF was opposed.

SB 1001 (Don Perata, D-Oakland) was vetoed by the Governor. This bill would have reduced the balance of appointments on the nine regional water quality control boards by eliminating the current categories from which the nine members are appointed. SB 1001 also would have allowed the State Water Resources Control Board to revoke the regulatory authority of the regional water quality control boards. These provisions would have effectively eliminated the independence of the regional water quality control boards as regulatory agencies. Farm Bureau was opposed to this bill.

AB 377 (Juan Arambula, D-Fresno) was vetoed by the Governor. The measure would have required Farm Labor Contractors (FLC) to disclose the name and address of the entity that secured that contractor’s services on employee pay stubs, thereby increasing potential liability for those using FLC services. CFBF opposed this bill.

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AB 8 (Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles) was vetoed by the Governor. This bill would have provided for universal health care by requiring employers to spend 7.5% of social security wages on health care expenditures for full-time and part-time workers and their dependents or pay an equivalent fee to a newly created California Health Trust Fund. CFBF opposed this legislation.

SB 451 (Senator Kehoe, D- San Diego) was vetoed by the Governor. It would have created a program to allow small-scale renewable generators to sell renewable electricity to the investor-owned utilities at rates set by the Public Utilities Commission. This would include electricity from methane gas digesters, livestock and poultry waste, solar and wind. However, Farm Bureau was concerned that the bill would result in the loss of environmental credits accruing to small generators and instead transfer them to major utilities. As such, CFBF opposed the bill and requested a veto.

SB 719 (Mike Machado, D-Linden) was signed by the Governor, enabling the current San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control Governing Board to increase from 11 to 15 members. SB 719 will add two new members who would be elected representatives from valley city councils and two public members with medical expertise, appointed by the Governor. It is unfortunate that this legislation is lauded to fix the complex air quality issues faced by the SJV. Adding two medical representatives on the SJV air board’s governing board will not clean the air. It does allow two individuals to make important decisions without any accountability to the voters of the eight SJV counties. CFBF was opposed to this bill.

SB 773 (Wiggins, D-Eureka) was signed by the Governor, allowing 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 instead of the current 40 feet, access to Humboldt and Del Norte counties via Highway 101. CFBF was in support.


SB X2 – 3 by Senator Dave Cogdill would enact the Water Supply Reliability Bond Act of 2008 which, if approved by the voters, would authorize, for the purposes of financing a water supply reliability and environmental restoration program and the issuance of bonds in the amount of $9,085,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law. This would include the construction of two new reservoirs (Sites and Temperance Flat) and the expansion of a third, Los Vaqueros. CFBF: Support; Status: HELD in Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

SB X2 - 2, by Perata would enact the Water Supply Reliability Bond Act of 2008, which if approved by the voters, would authorize, for the purposes of financing a specified water supply reliability and environmental restoration program, the issuance of bonds in the amount of $5,800,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law. CFBF: No Position; Status: DEFEATED ON SENATE FLOOR

At this time development of a legislative water bond in the next few months appears to be an uphill battle. There is a likelihood that instead several ballot measures will be pursued including one by Senator Perata incorporating the language of his failed measure and another patterned after the Cogdill bill. It is possible that ‘dueling’ water initiatives will go to the ballot in November 2008.

Universal Health Care – The governor is still pushing for agreement on a universal health care program, but no such agreement has been reached. The latest proposal which includes funding from doctors (2% tax), hospitals (4% tax) and employers with payrolls of over $100,000 annually (0-4% sliding rate tax) also includes funding from the state lottery. The proposal is to lease out the state lottery for $2 billion per year with a 4% escalator clause. Some parties interested in leasing the lottery have already come forward. Nonetheless, potential for consensus on a health care package seems minimal at this time. Farm Bureau has continued to meet with and provide input to the governor’s office and legislators on the matter.
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