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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Legislative Review

May 13, 2016


AB 1826 (Mark Stone, D-Monterey Bay) would revise the fee structure for organic registration under the State Organic Program (SOP) and reduce paperwork burdens associated with the SOP registration process. The bill also adds a representative of an accredited certifying agency to the existing California Organic Products Advisory Committee (COPAC). The Assembly Appropriations Committee placed AB 1826 on its suspense calendar this week, which it will take up at the end of the month. With the amendments that were taken previously in the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Farm Bureau is now in support of AB 1826.

Natural Resources:

There has been a lot of activity surrounding appointments and staff at the Fish and Game Commission recently. The Governor appointed two new Commissioners to the Fish and Game Commission. The two new appointments are Peter Silva and Russell Burns. Mr. Silva is an engineer with a background in water management and he served on the State Water Resources Control Board from 2000 to 2005. Mr. Burns is currently a business manager at Operating Engineers Local Union 3 and is an avid outdoorsman who regularly hunts and fishes. Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the two newest Commissioners.

The Commission also appointed a new executive director this week. Valerie Termini will serve as the Commission’s executive director beginning May 16th. Ms. Termini was formerly with the California Ocean Protection Council where she has served as the fisheries policy advisor and as interim executive director.

The Senate Rules Committee held a confirmation hearing for the two unconfirmed Commissioners. Eric Sklar and Anthony Williams were both recommended for confirmation and the full Senate will vote on their confirmation soon.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) recently released a proposal to significantly increase fees for Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreements (LSAA). DFW’s proposal would increase fees on all LSAAs by 129 percent. Fees in the proposal would range from $561 to $5,000 depending on the cost of the project. The proposal also includes new fees for marijuana growers needing LSAAs. Farm Bureau met with DFW this week to express concern with the proposal and request that DFW consider improving efficiencies in the program rather than just increasing fees. Comments on the proposal are due June 13th. DFW will also be holding a public hearing on the fees on June 13th from 10:00 – 11:30 at the Resources Auditorium in Sacramento. 2


The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) will hold the second of two workshops next week on their proposed revisions to the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition’s General Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR).

Because of an anticipated heavy turnout, the Tuesday, May 17th workshop has been moved to the Fresno Convention Center, 848 M Street, Fresno. The workshop will begin at 9:00 a.m.

The State Water Board extended the deadline to accept written comments, they must now be received by 12:00 noon Wednesday, June 1, 2016. The State Water Board requests that you indicate the following in the subject line of your written comments, "Comments to A-2239(a)-(c)." Written comments should be addressed to:

Ms. Jeanine Townsend

Clerk to the Board

State Water Resources Control Board

1001 I Street, 24th Floor [95814]

P.O. Box 100

Sacramento, CA 95812-0100

Or emailed to commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov

As previously reported, and according to the State Water Board, the proposed order is precedential in nature and will apply statewide. For this reason, the proposed order has significant implications for irrigated agriculture statewide and will directly affect all growers whether enrolled in coalitions or complying as individual dischargers. Farm Bureau continues to actively engage the State Water Board, the Administration and the Legislature on this matter and encourages county Farm Bureaus that did not attend last week’s workshop in Sacramento to attend the Fresno workshop.

AB 1842 (Marc Levine, D-San Rafael) would allow a civil penalty of up to $10 per gallon or pound of polluting material discharged into waterways and reduces the penalty on every gallon or pound recovered. The measure regards the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act that establishes various civil penalties for conduct in connection with the intentional or negligent discharging of oil into waters of the state. The provisions of the Act have been used in a couple of cases involving large oil spills. The bill was amended this week to address Farm Bureau and others’ double liability concerns and now prohibits a person from being subject to both a civil penalty in the Fish and Game Code and a civil penalty imposed in the courts for the same act or failure to act. Farm Bureau is now neutral with these amendments.

Two measures, AB 1755 (Bill Dodd, D-Napa) and AB 2304 (Marc Levine, D-San Rafael), that would establish water markets to facilitate water transfers to "address 21st century challenges from climate change, population growth and vulnerable ecosystems" were amended this week.

AB 1755 enacts the Open and Transparent Water Data Act, requiring the Department of Water Resources (DWR), by January 1, 2018, to create, operate and maintain a statewide integrated water data platform. The platform would integrate existing water and ecological data information from multiple databases and provide data on completed water transfers and exchanges. The act would create the Water Data Administration Fund making funds available, upon appropriation, to DWR, the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to improve and integrate water and ecological 3 data to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and improve the management of the state’s water resources.

AB 2304 establishes the California Water Market Exchange Clearinghouse within the Natural Resources Agency on or after July 1, 2018. The measure would require the Clearinghouse, on or before December 31, 2018, to create a centralized water platform on its internet website providing ready access to information about water available for transfers and exchange. The director of the Clearinghouse shall be appointed by the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency.

AB 2304 would also require the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to convene a Water Market Clearinghouse Task Force to make recommendations to the clearinghouse. The clearinghouse, on or before December 31, 2018, would be required to consider and act upon the recommendations to establish administrative procedures that state agencies would implement to expedite proposed transfers or exchanges and prioritize projects that provide environmental and community benefits. The Task Force shall be comprised of representatives from:

1. The Natural Resources Agency (who will chair the Task Force)

2. The Department of Water Resources

3. The Department of Fish and Wildlife

4. The Department of Food and Agriculture

5. The Office of Planning and Research

6. The State Water Resources Control Board

7. A representative from academia, agricultural and municipal water suppliers, disadvantaged communities, environmental and conservation organizations, groundwater entities and entities that have participated in water transfers as sellers and buyers. Federal water and resources agencies shall also be invited to have representation.

Farm Bureau remains actively engaged with the authors of both bills, voicing areas of serious concern.

AB 2446 (Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park) as amended this week would require the State Water Resources Control Board to issue or deny a stay within 90 days of receipt of a request for stay. Additionally, the measure now would allow a party to appeal a water board decision in court if the State Water Board does not respond to a stay request in 90 days. Farm Bureau and others have had ongoing discussions with the State Water Board and the author, successfully removing some of the more objectionable provisions of the bill, such as relaxing the independent judgment standard and only allowing substantial evidence to be reviewed in a court appeal. Farm Bureau is now neutral with these amendments.

SB 1317 (Lois Wolk, D-Davis) would require a city or county overlying a high or medium priority water basin to establish a process by January 1, 2018 for issuing a groundwater extraction (groundwater well) permit. Previously the measure required a conditional use permit to be established by July 1, 2017. The legislation also requires an applicant for a new groundwater well permit to demonstrate, based on substantial evidence, that it will not contribute to or create and undesirable result. SB 1317 prohibits a city or county from issuing a groundwater well permit in probationary basins and those designated as critically overdrafted. The measure also carves out exemptions for new groundwater wells that would provide water for habitat, wetlands conservation, or renewable energy projects such as utility scale solar. SB 1317 will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee next week. Farm Bureau remains opposed.



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