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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Legislative Review
May 20, 2016
AB 2700(Rudy Salas, Jr., D-Bakersfield) is no longer biomass energy legislation and will be instead be used for a different, still unknown purpose by its new author, Assembly Member Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino). As initially crafted, AB 2700 would have required the CPUC to update the criteria it uses to prioritize renewable energy projects by including 1) a job creation factor for existing renewable energy projects and 2) consideration of the value of maintaining existing baseload resources in order to achieve the goal of a balanced portfolio of eligible renewable projects. The revisions to AB 2700 occurred prior to its hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 18. The focus now for the viability of biomass plants has shifted to urging the Legislature to allocate greenhouse gas reduction funds for the plants’ support as part of this year’s budget which CFBF will support.
AB 2261(Roger Hernández, D-West Covina) would permit the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
(DLSE) to issue a citation against an employer who it believes has discharged or retaliated against an employee in violation of any requirement of the Labor Code, with or without an employee complaint. The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved AB 2261 on a party-line 14-6 vote on May 18. Farm Bureau opposes.
The Governor’s May Revision of the state budget included a couple of natural resource issues of interest to Farm Bureau. The proposal includes $11 million in General Fund dollars to CalFire to assist in the removal and disposal of trees in high hazard areas. The funds are proposed to be distributed as follows: $6 million for grants to local entities for removal of hazardous trees that pose a threat to public health and safety and $5 million for equipment and personnel for hazardous tree removal and fuels reduction efforts. This proposal was approved by the Senate Budget Subcommittee #2 this week.
The administration also released budget trailer bill language to make significant changes to the regulation of medical marijuana growers. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) are proposing new systems for regulating water use and streambed alteration agreements for marijuana growers. The proposal would have DFW and SWRCB creating guidelines for diversion and use of water for marijuana cultivation where it could affect instream flows. It also would require reporting of all groundwater extraction used for marijuana cultivation. It adds fees to statements 2
of diversion and use made my marijuana cultivators. All of these new systems proposed to regulate medical marijuana would be exempt from analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act and would be adopted as emergency regulations so they would not be subject to the normal review process by the Office of Administrative Law.
The proposal also would exempt marijuana cultivators from the need to obtain a streambed alteration agreement for their activities, so long as they are covered by the license they obtain allowing them to grow marijuana. However, despite being exempt from the need to obtain a streambed alteration agreement, they would still be required to submit a fee for the streambed alteration agreement they are not receiving. The proposal also gives DFW the authority to adopt a general streambed alteration agreement for categories of activities related to marijuana cultivation.
The proposal was heard by the Senate Budget Subcommittee #2 this week and will be heard by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #4 next week. The Senate Committee rejected the proposal, only so that they can continue discussing the proposal before the entire Budget Committee. Farm Bureau expressed opposition to the proposal due to its potential to impact our members in the future as the ideas proposed get expanded beyond marijuana cultivators.
AB 2087(Mark Levine, D-Marin) would authorize the Department of Fish and Wildlife to approve regional conservation frameworks that allow for pre-approved mitigation by project proponents. The author’s goal is to improve the mitigation process for project impacts to fish, wildlife, and plants. AB 2087 was put on the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s suspense file this week due to cost to the state. Farm Bureau has concerns with the impacts regional conservation frameworks could have on landowners identified in the frameworks. The author has committed to working with Farm Bureau and other stakeholders to address our concerns.
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" are scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee next 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. Among other things, the platform would integrate existing water and ecological data information from multiple databases and provide data on completed water transfers and exchanges.
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 to create a centralized water platform on its internet website providing ready access to information about water available for transfers and exchange. The Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency would appoint the director of the Clearinghouse and also convene a Water Market Clearinghouse Task Force to make recommendations to the Clearinghouse. Farm Bureau remains actively engaged with the authors of both bills, voicing areas of serious concern.3
The California Water Commission adopted the Department of Water Resources (DWR) regulations this week that will guide Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) management of high and medium priority groundwater basins.
There are 21 groundwater basins identified as critically overdrafted that must have groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) in place by January 31, 2020. All other high and medium priority basins must have a GSP approved and in place by January 31, 2022.
In DWR’s press release they stated, "These regulations recognize the two key principles of the groundwater legislation. First, that groundwater is best managed at the local or regional level, and local agencies should have the tools they need to sustainably manage their resources. Second, when local or regional agencies cannot or will not manage their groundwater sustainably, the state will intervene until the local agencies develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans."
To view the approved emergency regulations filed with the Office of Administrative Law go to: http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/pdfs/Proposed_GSP_Regs_2016_05_10.pdf
Farm Bureau has been actively engaged and commented on the regulations over the past year.
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