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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Legislative Review of Bills and Laws
California Farm Bureau Federation May 29, 2015
The Senate Appropriations Committee took up its Suspense File on Thursday, May 28th, and it contained 284 bills that had over $13 billion in General Fund spending. After working with the bills’ authors, the committee reported 202 bills to Senate Floor, most with amendments to reduce their cost, but no estimated General Fund spending was provided. Bills of interest to California agriculture that were passed off suspense include the following:
SB 3 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco) would increase the California minimum wage to $11 per hour on January 1, 2016; to $13 per hour on July 1, 2017, and index the minimum wage to the rate of inflation as January 1, 2019. Farm Bureau is opposed to SB 3 that passed on a party line vote of 5 to 2 with committee’s Republican members, Senators Nielsen (R-Gerber) and Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), voting "No".
SB 20 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) that would make well construction reports, including altered, abandoned, or destroyed well reports (well logs) available to the public was approved 5-2. Identical measures by the Senator have failed to pass the Legislature and be signed into law by the Governor in previous attempts in recent years. Well logs are already required to be submitted to the Department of Water Resources and are available to the appropriate public agencies. Identical language that would make well logs available to the public also appears as budget trailer bill language. Farm Bureau opposes.
SB 27 (Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo), which as currently written would prohibit the over-the-counter sale of medically important antibiotics, prohibit the use of medically important antibiotics for feed efficiency or growth promotion, require CDFA to develop a tracking program to track the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock and require CDFA to create an antibiotic stewardship program to promote the judicious use of antibiotics was also approved. Farm Bureau has expressed concerns with some of the provisions of the bill to the author and Governor’s staff, who are also engaged in the issue, and is continuing to work on amendments to ensure livestock producers continue to have access to important treatments for their livestock. The bill was amended to additionally define when medically important antibiotics can be used and delete the antibiotic tracking provisions for the time being. The vote on the measure was 5-2 with Senators Nielsen and Bates opposed.
SB 119 (Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo) addresses the integrity of underground infrastructure and the safety of those who operate around and near the infrastructure by establishing mandated requirements for calling and marking prior to contact of the ground with equipment. CFBF and other agricultural organizations provided exemption language which was agreed to that would allow the following without calling: cultivating, planting, harvesting, and similar operations in connection with agricultural activities, unless any of these activities disturbs the soil to a depth of sixteen inches or more. In addition, in cases where the
infrastructure owner considers the sixteen inches to be insufficient, a process for permanently marking the location and depth of any underground facilities is established. As long as those provisions remain in the bill CFBF will retain a neutral position. The bill passed out of committee on a 5 to 2 vote.
SB 148 (Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg and Connie Leyva, D-Chino) would appropriate $600 million annual funding to provide high-quality, industry relevant Career Technical Education courses and programs. Farm Bureau supports this measure that was approved on a vote of 7-0.
The following bills were held in committee and are essentially dead because they will miss the deadline for fiscal bills to be reported to the Floor:
SB 180 (Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) seeks to replace the current greenhouse gas emissions performance standard on July 1, 2017 with a new standard for "primary generation and secondary generation" and ratchet down those standards every five years. Farm Bureau opposes.
SB 250 (Ted Gaines, R-Roseville) that would have extended the time period for submitting the fire prevention fee by homeowner in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) from 30 to 60 days. Farm Bureau supports.
SB 687 (Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica) requires adoption of a carbon-based renewable gas standard that requires all gas sellers to provide specified percentages of renewable gas meeting certain deliverability requirements, to retail end-use customers for use in California. Farm Bureau opposes.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee also took up its Suspense File on May 28th and considered 421 bills, the largest number by far in several years. Declaring that legislators’ vision must be constrained by budget reality, Chairman Jimmy Gomez announced in customary rapid fire succession that fate of the spending bills. The committee approved or amended and approved 282 bills and held 139 (33 percent). The projected General Fund spending for all the bills was not estimated but it is no doubt quite similar to the Senate’s unannounced estimate. Some of the bills of particular interest to agriculture that were passed to the floor include:
AB 67 (Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego) would require retailers to pay twice an employee’s usual rate of pay if the employer requires the employee to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas. The bill was amended to only mandate double pay for the Thanksgiving Holiday and was approved 12 to 5 with Republican members voting "No". Farm Bureau opposes.
AB 515 (Susan Eggman, D-Stockton) would broaden and extend the state income tax credit for donations of food to food banks. Current law allows a ten percent income tax credit on the inventory costs of fresh fruits and vegetables only. AB 515 would increase the credit to 15 percent of the wholesale value of the commodity donated and expand the list of qualified items. Farm Bureau is a co-sponsor of this measure with California Association of Food Banks.
AB 561 (Nora Compos, D-San Jose) would require an employer to post a bond for the monetary value of any award associated with an order from the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) if the employer chooses to appeal the Board’s decision. Farm Bureau opposes the measure as it would unduly burden an employer’s right to appeal a decision of the Board. It was approved on a party line vote 12 to 5 with Republicans opposed.
AB 751 (Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove) would extend the authorization of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Vertebrate Pest Control Research Advisory Committee (VPCRAC). The VPCRAC funds research to ensure vertebrate pest control products, such as rodent baits, can remain registered and available for use. Farm Bureau supports AB 751 that passed with a 17 - 0 vote.
AB 1242 (Adam Gray, D-Merced) that requires the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mitigation measures for effects to groundwater basins that occur when local entities opt to pump more groundwater in response to State action was approved 16-0 with one member not voting. Farm Bureau supports.
AB 1321 (Philip Ting, D-San Francisco) creates the Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture that builds a framework for California to get its share of federal matching funds under the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program in the 2014 Farm Bill. This program increases the purchasing power of California’s food stamp program known as CalFresh, the WIC program (a nutrition program for women, infants and children), Senior Farmers Markets, as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) recipients when they use their nutrition benefits to purchase California grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables at Certified Farmers’ Markets and other small businesses. Farm Bureau supports AB 1321 that passed 12-0 with all Republicans not voting.
The following bills were held in committee:
AB 916 (Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach) would have provided a one-time allocation of Proposition 98 funding to help restore state funding to Career Tech Student Organizations (CTSOs). Farm Bureau was in support.
AB 1019 (Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella) would have created a Metal Theft Task Force to provide additional resources to local law enforcement to focus on metal theft. Assembly Member Garcia is continuing the effort that Assembly Members Gray and Nestande began to provide additional resources to local law enforcement to enforce laws to prevent the theft and sale of stolen metal. Farm Bureau was the sponsor of AB 1019.
In addition to the Suspense File actions, AB 402 (Bill Dodd, D-Napa) that would allow the extension of urban services, such as non-agricultural water and sewer lines, to existing or planned developments outside a jurisdiction’s sphere of influence was approved by the Assembly on a vote of 46 to 22. Even though the bill is now a "pilot program" in Napa, Sonoma, and San Bernardino Counties, Farm Bureau has an oppose unless amended position. We believe the measure is overly broad due to the inclusion of "planned uses" that would allow for new leapfrog developments on agricultural land contrary to the stated purpose of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act. We are working with our impacted county Farm Bureaus on possible amendments that would limit the extension of urban services to an existing use or allowed uses under the current zoning ordinance. The bill will be heard next in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee chaired by Senator Robert Hertzberg. Senator Hertzberg has a keen interest in the law bearing his name that AB 402 would amend.
The California Water Commission will hold the third meeting of their Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) next week. The Commission established the SAC to provide advice to the Commission. With the passage of Proposition 1, the Commission is developing a
competitive process to allocate $2.7 billion in bond funds for the public benefits portion of qualified water storage projects. These public benefits may include ecosystem improvements, water quality improvements, flood control benefits, emergency response and recreation. The Commission is required to develop and adopt regulations by December 15, 2016 that provide methods for quantifying and managing the public benefits of water storage projects. The SAC will provide advice and non-binding recommendations to the Commission on developing these regulations. The SAC continues to meet every month in Sacramento and must complete its work and provide recommendations to the Commission by October 2015. The SAC is made up of more than 30 stakeholders, including Farm Bureau.
Budget Trailer Bill Language is proposed that would expand local enforcement authority and make significant changes to requirements to monitor and measure water diversions. Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations are opposed to these items and are also opposed to these being taken up in Budget Trailer Bills. We believe these items need to be heard and debated in policy committees because of their complexity.
1. Budget Trailer Bill Language 820 expands local enforcement authority to include up to $10,000 fines for violations of water conservation program ordinances for those receiving municipal water supplies, including food processors, or for violations of emergency regulations adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board.
2. Budget Trailer Bill Language 824 would expand existing water diversion reporting requirements to those who divert 10 acre feet of water or more in a year. The measure would require the installation of devices capable of continuously monitoring the rate and quantity of water diverted and require water right permittees and licensees to maintain a record of all diversions that includes the date, time and diversion rate at time intervals of one hour or less. These requirements would apply to all years, not just drought years.
In addition to the above Trailer Bills, the State Water Resources Control Board has a Budget Change Proposal (BCP) in the budget that would establish 16 new permanent positions at a cost of $7.8 million annually, $3.7 million from the General Fund and $4.1 million from the Water Rights Fund to update the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. This Plan includes objectives to protect beneficial uses and a program of implementation to achieve those objectives which includes inflows to the Delta from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, as well as Delta outflow and exports, to protect public trust assets such as fish and wildlife.
AB 1390 (Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville), a Farm Bureau sponsored measure that would make our groundwater rights adjudication system more efficient passed out of the Assembly this week 76-0 with 4 members absent. The measure previously passed unanimously out of both policy committees of the Assembly, Water, Parks and Wildlife and Judiciary. The measure subsequently also passed unanimously out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The measure is focused on procedural matters and does not address any substantive principles of water law or local groundwater planning under the SGMA. Key provisions of this measure include:
1. Clarifying the court procedures applicable to comprehensive groundwater adjudications in order to reduce the time and improve the efficiency of these actions. This does not mean groundwater adjudications will be fast and simple, but that the process will be more efficient than it is now.
2. Encouraging early settlement and avoiding undue disruption of local groundwater planning efforts.
3. Addressing the designation of adjudication actions as complex, phasing of the litigation, efficient identification
of groundwater basin boundaries and assistance to the court of a special master, among other changes.
4. Improving the process by providing a preliminary hearing to ensure that a comprehensive adjudication of groundwater rights is appropriate, clear rules on proper service of process to all overlying landowners and early disclosures of groundwater use.
Acompeting measure to Farm Bureau sponsored AB 1390 (listed above) that would take a different approach to modifying our groundwater rights adjudication system was approved by the Senate this week 23-14 along party lines with 2 members not voting. SB 226 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) would make additional changes to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) that currently includes significant groundwater management measures which focus on improving the sustainability and reliability of California’s groundwater basins. One of the troublesome changes in the bill requires that future adjudication decisions avoid undesirable results as identified in SGMA. It also authorizes the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to intervene in adjudications if they claim an interest on behalf of the environment. AB 1390 instead addresses the issue by adding a new chapter to the Code of Civil Procedure, to make improvements to the judicial proceedings of comprehensive adjudications of groundwater rights in basins without altering the law of groundwater rights and without disrupting the SGMA planning process. Farm Bureau opposes SB 226.
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Page Updated: Sunday May 31, 2015 03:16 PM Pacific
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