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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review

MAY 30, 2008

 This week provided another milestone for this second half of the 2007-08 Legislative Session. May 30th was the last day for this year’s crop of bills to be passed out of their house of origin. In other words, Senate bills introduced since Dec. 3, 2007 had to be approved by the full Senate or they are dead for the year. Likewise, Assembly bills introduced during this second half of this two-year session had to win approval on the Assembly floor. Below is a list of bills of interest to Farm Bureau that moved to the second house for further consideration.

Measures approved by the Assembly include:

AB 1764 (Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo), which would clarify that land dedicated exclusively to crops for biofuel production or enrolled in USDA conservation programs qualifies for Williamson Act protection, was approved on the Consent Calendar by a vote of 68 to 0. This is a Farm Bureau-sponsored bill. 

AB 2076 (Felipe Fuentes, D-Los Angles), which would prohibit counties or municipalities from requiring use by employers of the federal E-Verify system for employment eligibility verification, if use of that system is for the purpose of obtaining a contract or business license, passed on a 42-31 vote. This legislation was offered in response to earlier unsuccessful legislation requiring the use of the E-Verify system for various purposes. This is Farm Bureau-supported legislation.

AB 2175 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz), which would require the Department of Water Resources to establish a 20 percent reduction in urban per capita water use and a statewide 500,000 acre-feet numeric water conservation target for agriculture by December 31, 2020, was approved on a 48 to 30 vote. CFBF continues to seek amendments to this Natural Resources Defense Council-sponsored bill.

AB 2222 (Anna Caballero, D-Salinas), which would add new responsibilities to the public advisory committee and interagency task force of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) passed 46 to 32. The bill would require the SWRCB, in consultation with the advisory committee and interagency task force, to evaluate information obtained through the monitoring program and submit a report to the Legislature by January 1, 2010. The report would discuss contaminated groundwater that serves as a primary drinking water source, and recommend ways to better protect, restore, and improve groundwater and to enhance public access to information on groundwater conditions. The public advisory committee includes representatives from agricultural water users, public water suppliers and environmental advocacy groups. CFBF and Western Growers represent agriculture on the public advisory committee.

AB 2270 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz), which would authorize local agencies operating sewer systems to take action to control residential salinity inputs, including from water softeners, to protect the quality of the waters of the state, was approved with amendments. Prior to taking such an action the State Water Resources Control Board or a regional water quality control board would have to make a finding that control of residential salinity input will contribute to achieving water quality objectives. In areas of the state where salinity levels are high and adversely affect commodities this measure would assist local agencies meet their water quality standards. CFBF supports this legislation, unfortunately at the time of this printing the vote tally was unavailable.

AB 2763 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz), which would require the Department of Food and Agriculture to develop a comprehensive protocol for responding to the invasion of non-native pest species, to notify affected communities, and to select the appropriate methods for eradication, control or management of the pest species was approved 78 to 0.

AB 2921 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz) was approved 48 to 17 with 16 absent or not voting. This bill would authorize a court, in a civil action concerning Williamson Act contracts, to award the Department of Conservation reasonable attorney's fees and costs, authorize DOC to utilize Soil Conservation Funds to cover costs associated with administering the program’s material breach provisions, make changes to the easement exchange program, and clarify that material breach provisions do not apply to a building for which a permit was issued prior to January 2004. Farm Bureau is still seeking amendments to this measure.

Bills approved by the Senate include:

SB 1108 (Mike Machado, D- Linden), which would create a Delta Conservancy Program within the existing California Coastal Conservancy, was approved 24 to 16. Farm Bureau continues to seek amendments on this measure.

SB 1562 (Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta), which would expand the exemption from property tax for trees damaged by the extremely strong and damaging winds and wildfires that were subjects of the Governor’s proclamation of a state of emergency, was approved on a vote of 40 to 0. This was a Farm Bureau-supported bill.

SB 1617 (Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego), which would impose a $50 fee for structures requiring a certificate of occupancy in the State Responsibility Area for fire prevention activities was approved on a 21-13 vote. Farm Bureau has had significant input of this measure to date but we are still working with the author on further amendments. Our goal is to avoid more Draconian per acre or per parcel taxes disguised as “fees.”

AB 2402 (Doug La Malfa, R-Chico), which would extend the amount of time that a commercial motor carrier can be stopped, parked, or left standing within a roadside rest area or viewpoint, will be heard in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee for hearing June 10. Federal regulation requires a 10-hour rest period for truckers, current California law only allows for parking in a rest area or similar location for 8-hours before towing or citation. CFBF is in support.

The CFBF-sponsored bill, AB 2714 (Rick Keene, R-Chico), regarding “loss of load”, is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Transportation and Housing committee on June 10. The bill will amend the vehicle code to address the incidental loss of hay or straw chaff from trucks hauling hay on the highway.

SB 1663 (Jeff Denham, R-Merced) relative to used and waste tires will be heard next in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. The bill would make grant money available from existing funds to agricultural businesses for the transportation and disposal of used and waste tires and for the cost of removal and disposal of illegally dumped tires. A hearing date has not yet been set.  CFBF is in support.

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