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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review of bills

May 29, 2009

Today, May 29th, was another important legislative milestone in the 2009-10 legislative calendar. It is the deadline for fiscal committees to report bills to their respective floors so all of the bills previously held on the Suspense Files either moved or died. The Senate Appropriations Committee had 186 bills on its Suspense File that would have cost just over $210 billion if approved. Nearly $210 billion of that amount was in one bill, SB 810 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), which would have provided single-payer health care coverage. That bill was held but the committee did approved 80 other bills and most were amended to reduce their General Fund cost. The estimated cost of the 80 bills is $3.5 million. The committee also approved the expenditure of $3 million in previously approved bond funds. On the Assembly side, its Appropriation Committee considered 450 bills on its Suspense File that would have cost several billion if enacted. The committee passed about 220 measures costing the state $6 million.

SB 144, (Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica), passed off of the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File this week on a party line vote of 11 to 0, with two abstaining.  This bill would require mitigation and fees for any conversions of forestland in California to address the impacts these conversions have on climate change.  This bill would apply not only to timberland, but oak woodlands as well.  CFBF is opposed to SB 144 because of cost issues and its duplicative nature; the state already requires mitigation for oak woodland conversions.  However, the author and sponsors have expressed interest in providing incentives to keep forestlands as working landscapes and we will continue discussing these options.  SB 144 now moves to the Senate Floor. 

SB 250, (Dean Florez, D-Shafter), passed off of the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File this week on a party line vote, 13 to 0.  This bill requires all dogs and cats in California to be spayed or neutered, unless the owner obtains an “intact” permit for the dog, or keeps the cat indoors at all times.  If the dog owner has been cited for certain pet related violations, they are ineligible to obtain an intact permit.  Included in the list of violations is allowing a dog to run at large.  CFBF continues to advocate for an exemption for working dogs used to guard or herd livestock, which Senator Florez has so far refused to accept.  SB 250 now moves to the Senate Floor.   

The Senate Appropriations Committee put SB 416, (Dean Florez, D-Shafter), on its Suspense File on Tuesday, and on Thursday passed it off the Suspense File also on a party line vote, 13 to 0.  This bill would ban the use of antibiotics for “non-therapeutic” or preventative uses in livestock.  Livestock producers take great care when selecting veterinary treatments for the animals in their care and this bill would handicap both veterinarians and livestock producers in their efforts to maintain animal health and provide a safe food supply to consumers.  Originally the bill also required that schools only serve meat and poultry products that have not been treated with antibiotics for growth promotion or disease prevention purposes.  However, Senator Florez was forced to take amendments that would require schools to try to purchase meat products not treated with antibiotics and to document and report their purchases to the Superintendent of Public Instruction if they are not able to obtain those products.  CFBF is opposed to this bill.  SB 416 now moves to the Senate Floor.     

Two food safety related bills met different fates this week in their respective Appropriations Committees.  SB 173, (Dean Florez, D-Shafter), passed off of the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File this week with a 13 to 0 party line vote.  This bill would essentially require Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans and product testing for growers, food processors, and food facilities.  It also provides the Department of Public Health (DPH) with the authority to issue mandatory recalls when it believes foods may contain substances or pathogens injurious to human health.  The bill does not technically require HACCP plans and testing. However if a grower, food processor, or food facility is the subject of a mandatory recall then he or she is liable for triple the damages awarded to any plaintiffs, inspections by DPH for at least eight days per month for at least 12 months, and DPH has the authority to close the facility for up to six months.  With these strong provisions, it seems likely that individuals would choose to create HACCP plans and complete product testing.  The bill also requires anyone who is testing products to report any positives within one hour of receiving notice of the positive. 

On the Assembly side, AB 1372, (Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles), was held on the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense File.  This bill would have required food processing facilities to adopt HACCP plans and have them approved by DPH.  The bill also would have required product testing, with the results reported to DPH.  CFBF recently formalized its opposition to both bills; however we are working with a coalition to determine possible amendments that would provide workable food safety solutions. 

Two items of labor-related legislation supported by CFBF passed important milestones:

AB 854, (Juan Arambula, D-Fresno), would require a Farm Labor Contractor to certify there are no court judgments or Labor Commissioner orders related to unpaid wages against him or her when seeking renewal of his or her state FLC license.  Shortly before yesterday’s Assembly Appropriations Suspense File hearing, CFBF weighed in to support the bill because it will facilitate removal of undercapitalized and unscrupulous FLCs from the industry.  Assembly Appropriations removed AB 854 from the Suspense File and passed the bill, which now moves to the Assembly floor.  There was no opposition to AB 854 in Appropriations.

AB 1288, (Paul Fong, D-Mountain View), which would prohibit counties, cities or other local governmental units from requiring use of the seriously flawed federal E-Verify program as a condition of obtaining a contract or business license or settling any claim of unlawful activity was passed by the Assembly with bi-partisan support on May 28.  A broad coalition of labor and employer groups, including CFBF, support AB 1288, which is pending on suspension before Assembly Appropriations.

Other labor related legislation CFBF has been following appear to be stalled:

AB 1000, (Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco), would allow employees employed by an employer for 7 days to earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, which could be used after the 90th calendar day of work for an employee’s own illness or to care for others.  Assembly Appropriations did not remove AB 1000 from the suspense calendar yesterday, effectively killing the bill.

SB 356, (Rod Wright, D-Inglewood), would require regulatory agencies to actively seek input from small businesses and to affirmatively consider less burdensome alternatives to regulatory actions.  SB 356 did not clear the Senate Appropriations Suspense File on May 28, effectively killing it.

SB 810, (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), would create a state-run single-payer health plan for California, supported by an unspecified employer premium scheme.  SB 810 has been opposed by a broad coalition of California business groups and by CFBF, also did not clear the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File on May 28. 


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