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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review March 4, 2011

Assembly Member Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) has introduced a bill that would allow counties to collect their SB 863 payments after the January 1, 2015 sunset date. AB 1265 would simply recognize the fact that property taxes are paid on a fiscal year basis in December and April, so clarification is needed to allow the April payments following the January 1st sunset. SB 863 was the Farm Bureau-sponsored bill that allowed counties to adopt 10 percent shorter Williamson Act contracts with a commensurate reduction in the program’s property tax benefits.

Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) has introduced a Williamson Act spot bill that expands the definition of land uses deemed as compatible use in agricultural preserves to include renewal energy facilities. SB

618 will likely be used to allow marginally productive or physically impaired lands to be converted to large-scale photo voltaic electric power generation facilities.

Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) has also introduced a Williamson Act spot bill that could be available for an alternative funding mechanism should one be identified. The policy provisions of the proposal, as introduced, are not intended to be given consideration, they are only being used to move the spot bill forward.

Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) also wants to be helpful in protecting the Williamson Act. She has introduced SB 668 that states it is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would authorize local governments to accept donations from private entities to offset any reduced amount the local government receives in subvention payments for Williamson Act contracts.

Senator Evans has also picked up the mantle left by Assembly Member Ira Ruskin and reintroduced a bill that would grant new authority to the California Coastal Commission to levy administrative civil penalties. SB 588 would be equivalent to allowing the cop on the beat to act as prosecutor as well as judge, jury and executioner. Farm Bureau is already on record opposed to this measure that would create an unacceptable situation whereby the Commissioners and Commission staff are incentivized to impose fines and penalties at the expense of due process and rights for the accused. We believe that if someone is charged with an alleged violation of the Coastal Act, the appropriate venue for adjudication is the courts.

Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has introduced

SB 132 that would require the State Allocation Board to revise the school facilities program to reflect the State Planning Priorities. Under the Leroy Green School Facilities Act the State Allocation Board is charged with the allocation of state funds to school districts for the acquisition of school sites and the construction and modernization of schools. According to the author’s office, the goal of SB 132 is to


promote future school construction investment that will benefit the state by promoting infill development and equity, protecting environmental and agricultural resources and encouraging efficient development patterns.

AB 218

by Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) would reauthorize a California estate tax on estate's over $1M to fund a full sales and use tax exemption for manufacturing equipment with the excess flowing to the State General Fund. The estate tax would be "progressive" starting at 7.2 percent (from $1M to $1.54M) and climbing to 16.8 percent for estates valued in excess of $10.04M. It would require a vote of the people since it would amend a statutory initiative passed in June 1982. It will be known as the Job Retention and Economic Recovery Act and since it amends a statutory initiative, it only requires a majority vote in the Legislature.

California Rural Legal Assistance is the sponsor of an onerous pesticide bill that Assembly Member Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) has agreed to carry. AB 1176 proposes to make several changes to the pesticide evaluation process that would decrease the amount of time the Department of Pesticide Registration has to make risk assessment decisions. The environmental community likes deadlines, especially short ones that allow them to sue when an agency does not complete their work in time. The bill also requires DPR to secure written concurrence with the Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment and the Air Resources Board on determination of the need for pesticide application control measures. While DPR currently consults and works closely with both OEHHA and ARB on risk assessments, they have the authority and expertise to make the final decisions on pesticide control measures. CFBF is opposed to AB 1176.

State legislative committee action is beginning on legislation of interest to agricultural employers:

SB 104, card check legislation (Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento) is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on March 9. Farm Bureau opposes the measure.

AB 26, legislation to require employer use of the federal E-Verify system in California (Tim Donnelly, R-Claremont) and AB 78, legislation to require an advisory election on the need for the federal government to create a means for legalization of illegal immigrants (Mendoza, D-Norwalk) are scheduled for hearing before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on March 15.

Several new legislative items of interest to agricultural employers were introduced just prior to the bill introduction deadline last week:

AB 766

by Bill Monning (D-Carmel) would specify that the Labor Code does not prevent the Attorney General, District Attorneys General or “any person acting for himself or herself or the general public” from any action to enforce the provisions of the Labor Code independently and without specific direction from the Labor Commissioner.

AB 830

by Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto) would permit a nonexempt employee to request an employee-selected flexible work schedule providing for workdays up to 10 hours per day within a 40-hour workweek, and would allow an employer to implement this schedule without the obligation to pay overtime compensation for those additional hours in a workday.

AB 1286

by Filipe Fuentes (D-Arleta) would prohibit any settlement of a class-action wage claim unless all parties are represented by counsel, the settlement is approved by the Superior Court as a


reasonable and good faith settlement of the matter or the settlement is approved by the Labor Commissioner.

AB 1399

by the Democratic members of the Assembly Labor Committee would require employers to maintain any records associated with an employee’s performance issues that may have contributed to an employer’s dismissal of the employee for four years and to make these records available to the employee within 21 days of a request for those records. Failure to do so will subject the employer to a $750 fine.

SB 810

by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would establish a California Healthcare System as a single-payer healthcare system for all Californians, funded by the taxpayers.


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