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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review
Legislative and Governmental Update
"The month long summer recess for the legislature began today. It was the deadline week for policy committees to meet and report bills. Friday Review reflects action that occurred on a number of bills of interest to agriculture."
July 16, 2015
SB 350 (Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles) is the Senate president pro tempore’s far-reaching Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, which codifies the targets laid out in Governor Brown’s 2015 Inaugural Address. It imposes arbitrary and unrealistic standards to be achieved by 2030: a 50 percent reduction of petroleum use; a 50 percent increase in the current Renewable Portfolio Standard; and a 50 percent energy efficiency increase in buildings—all without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs and the economy. The Chamber of Commerce has labeled it a "job killer" and is leading a large business opposition coalition in cooperation with the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.
Among the many concerns expressed by members of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee was the undefined authority that would be given to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to pursue reducing petroleum fuel use and what type of policies and regulations it might pursue to impact the demand and supply of fuel. While a recent amendment was included that requires CARB to submit their strategy and implementation plan to the appropriate legislative policy committees, it would only be as a report, not for approval. This clearly is not the type of legislative oversight of CARB that would be adequate. The committee approved SB 350 on a 6-2 vote. Bureau is actively working with the business coalition that remains opposed.
SB 32 (Fran Pavley, D- Agoura Hills) extends the state’s mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction program to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Coincidentally, if California was to achieve this 80% reduction goal, our state would have the same GHG emissions as North Korea. The original GHG mandate, AB 32, was passed and signed into law in 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, equivalent to a 30% reduction in emissions compared to a "business as usual" trend. Much of the business community that opposes SB 32 believes we should take the time to understand what has worked with the implementation of AB 32 before creating additional climate change mandates and giving the California Air Resources Board carte blanche authority to move forward. SB 32 was approved by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee 6-3 along party lines with Jim Wood (D- Healdsburg) adding on as a co-author. Farm Bureau opposes.
AB 647 (Susan Eggman, D-Stockton) would have declared that the diversion of surface water to recharge groundwater, or to store water underground in limited situations, would constitute a beneficial use of water. Recent amendments to the measure would have required a permit from the State Water
Resources Control Board to appropriate surface water for that purpose, including pre-1914 water right holders. The measure was scheduled to be heard this week in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, but was pulled by the author late last Friday. Farm Bureau has offered language to the author, but we are opposed to the measure in its current form. The measure is now a two-year bill that will not be eligible to be heard again until early 2016.
AB 1201 (Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield) requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop and initiate a science-based approach that helps address predation by non-native species on endangered delta species. AB 1201 was unanimously approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. Farm Bureau supports.
AB 1242 (Adam Gray, D-Merced) 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. AB 1242 was unanimously approved by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee after the author amended the bill to address concerns from some in the environmental community. Farm Bureau supports.
AB 1390 (Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville) a Farm Bureau-sponsored measure that would make the groundwater rights adjudication system more efficient was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with the agreement that the author, Farm Bureau, other agricultural organizations and Judiciary Committee staff would work over the summer recess on language addressing service (notification) to impacted parties overlying a basin. As previously noted, the measure is focused on procedural matters and does not address any substantive principles of water law or local groundwater planning under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
The California Water Commission met this week to receive updates from the Department of Water Resources on SGMA Groundwater Basin Boundary Regulations, and from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board regarding their respective priorities for the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). The Commission also held a working session on the WSIP to discuss definitions, public benefits and to review technical data. Farm Bureau is a member of the WSIP Stakeholder Advisory Committee and is advocating to get the $2.7 billion allocated as soon as possible for projects providing the largest benefit to agriculture and the ecosystem and have the greatest potential to leverage private and federal dollars.
SB 367 (Lois Wolk, D-Davis) appropriates $25 million from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction (GHG) Fund to the California Department of Food and Agriculture to support agricultural management practices and activities that reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon storage in soils and woody biomass. It will provide the necessary financial assistance to agricultural operations that are willing to take the time and effort to implement management practices that can result in additional irrigation efficiency, water conservation, wildlife habitat conservation and soil carbon sequestration. The projects funded by SB 367 will allow the California Air Resources Board to recognize and attribute these agricultural sector GHG reductions as helping meet their statewide GHG goals which have been proposed to be further ratcheted down. It was approved by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan 8-1 vote. Farm Bureau supports.
AB 761 (Marc Levine, D-San Rafael) authorizes the California Department of Food and Agriculture ) to establish a grant program to fund projects that increase carbon sequestration in agricultural soils, improve soil water retention, and increase the resilience of working lands to climate change and drought. CDFA would coordinate with the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, Department of Conservation and Department of Water Resources to develop and adopt project solicitation and evaluation guidelines for the program. The funding would come from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, with final appropriation decisions to occur later this summer. AB 761 was unanimously approved by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Farm Bureau supports.
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, joined by other agricultural organizations, removed its "Opposed Unless Amended" position and is currently neutral, since our concerns with the bill were met. However the approach worked out with the author’s office engendered concerns and questions by the infrastructure owners. This is because an exemption for calling, coupled with a requirement that where the infrastructure owner considered the exemption (sixteen inches) to be insufficient, the infrastructure owner would have to permanently mark the location and depth of any underground facilities. Discussions among a broad group of stakeholders ensued and resolution of the concerns is being considered which includes retaining the status quo for agricultural activities. Also, the Advisory Committee (to be established by the legislation) will be required to study and recommend the best approach to use in considering required compliance in the context of agricultural excavation activities as well as the obligations of utilities. SB 119 was approved 8-1 by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee upon the Legislature’s return from their summer recess.
AB 561 (Nora Campos, D-San Jose) seeks to amend the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA). The bill would require an employer appealing an Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) imposed contract as a result of mandatory mediation and conciliation to post a bond for the "entire economic value of the order". AB 561 was approved 4-1 by the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee and was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Farm Bureau opposes.
AB 429 (Brian Dahle, R-Bieber) would require state agencies to give preference to timber harvested following the requirements of California’s forest practice rules so long as price and quality are equal. While direct state purchasing of lumber is fairly small relative to all lumber purchased in the state, it is important for the state to lead in its efforts to support timber producers who comply with California’s strict forest practice standards. Farm Bureau supports AB 429, which passed out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee 5-0.
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