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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Legislative and Governmental Update

March 27, 2015

SB 148 (Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg) would establish the Career and Job Skills Education Act and is intended to sustain the state's commitment to Career Technical Education by encouraging school districts to offer industry-relevant career preparatory coursework through a proven, incentive grant approach. It passed out of the Senate Committee on Education unanimously and will be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Farm Bureau supports.

The legislature passed an emergency drought package this week to accelerate appropriation of bond funds to address Californiaís unprecedented drought. The two bill package, AB 91 and AB 92 (both from the Budget Committee) will take effect immediately upon the Governorís signature. AB 91 is a budget bill to amend the 2014 budget to appropriate a little more than $1 billion for local drought relief and infrastructure projects. Nearly two-thirds of these funds are from Proposition 1E, the Disaster Preparedness and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2006. Another $260 million is being accelerated from Proposition 1 to fund the State Water Resources Control Boardís water recycling grant program and to improve access to clean drinking water for disadvantaged communities and to help small communities pay for wastewater treatment. The remaining $139 million go towards numerous projects to reduce the impacts of the drought, including $10 million in Cap and Trade funds that will go to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for their State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and $200,000 that will go to CDFA for a study on the impacts of the drought on agriculture and agricultural communities.

AB 92 is a budget trailer bill which made significant policy changes presented as necessary to address drought impacts. It makes significant changes to the Fish and Game Code by providing the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) significant new authority. There are two provisions that Farm Bureau opposed being included in the bill. The first provides DFW with authority to issue administrative civil penalties for impeding fish passage in most areas of the state. The new provision gives the Department the authority to fine individuals up to $8,000 per day for obstructing fish passage. This provision could be used against individuals with lawfully constructed bridges, culverts, or reservoirs that obstruct fish passage, not just people illegally diverting water. The second gives DFW the authority to initiate a complaint at the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for a violation of the Water Code associated with unauthorized diversions that harm fish and wildlife. Farm Bureau believes this authority should remain at the SWRCB and DFW should be limited to working with the SWRCB if its wardens see what they believe to be an illegal diversion, rather than giving DFW duplicative authority to issue the complaint.

Language for AB 91 and AB 92 was made public on Tuesday and both the Assembly and Senate held budget hearings on the bills on Wednesday; providing extremely limited opportunity for public input 2

into this important discussion. The Senate voted on the package Wednesday afternoon and the Assembly followed with a floor vote Thursday morning. AB 91 passed the Senate 36-1 and the Assembly 74-0. AB 92, which Farm Bureau opposed, unless the offending provisions of the Fish and Game Code were removed, passed the Senate on a party line vote of 24-14 and the Assembly approve it 50-27. Assembly Member Adam Gray (Merced) was the sole Democrat who voted against it. Farm Bureau has asked that further consideration of these problematic provisions be provided in the regular budget process.

A measure that would make well construction reports, including altered, abandoned, or destroyed well reports (well logs) available to the public was heard this week in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. SB 20 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) passed out of the committee 7-2 along party lines. Well logs are already required to be submitted to the Department of Water Resources and are available to the appropriate public agencies. For example, groundwater management agencies already have access and utilize this information to better manage their groundwater locally. With the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) last year this bill is unnecessary and impedes local groundwater management agencies ability to implement the SGMA. Farm Bureau is opposed

 

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