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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Legislative Review

September 30, 2016

Today at midnight is the deadline for Governor Brown to take action on the bills presented to him by the legislature. This week we review some of the final bills affecting agriculture in this legislative session. Any outstanding bills not addressed at publication time will be reported on next week.


AB 1960 (Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale) until January 1, 2023, excludes an agricultural vehicle from being subject to the Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program, and would define an agricultural vehicle to mean a vehicle with a GVWR of less than 16,000 pounds or combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating or a gross vehicle weight rating not greater than 26,000 pounds that is used exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations, not-for-hire, driven by the farmer, family member or employee. Farm Bureau supported.

AB 2029 (Brian Dahle, R- Bieber, Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg) expands the Forest Fire Prevention Pilot Project, also known as the “La Malfa” exemption, which currently allows limited harvest of trees that are less than 24-inches in diameter in certain counties for fire prevention purposes. AB 2029 expands the exemption to trees less than 26-inches, extends the program to 2023, and expands the program to the following Counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Inyo, Kern, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yuba. The bill’s effective date is contingent upon CalFire and the Board of Forestry preparing a report on the existing exemption. Farm Bureau supported.

SB 661 (Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo) is part of a suite of bills aimed at reforming the California Public Utilities Commission, SB 661 is the “Call Before You Dig” or “811” legislation, which revises the rules governing steps to be taken, when material in the ground is moved, that protect underground structures such as natural gas lines, oil pipelines and fiber optic cables. Adherence to the new rules is important for those who dig or move soil in order to be protected from liability for any damages to underground installations from accidental contact, which can happen when the pipeline owner inaccurately identifies where the facilities are located. Because of high profile accidents involving underground natural gas lines there has been an ongoing effort over the last two years to clarify and strengthen enforcement of the rules. Agricultural stakeholders worked with Administration staff and Senator Hill’s office to identify solutions to our concerns from proposed rule changes and CFBF was able remain neutral on the bill. Of key concern is the creation of a new state Board within the Office of the State Fire Marshall. The new California

Underground Facilities Safe Excavation Board will have authority over private landowners, like agriculture, to enforce all provisions related to the rules, including the authority to impose financial penalties for violations. Agreement to include an agricultural representative on the Board and a process for allowing agricultural operations to establish an agreed plan for activities for an entire year, rather than the current 28-day period, is reflected in the legislation in addition to other changes the agricultural stakeholders requested. Even with the signing of the bill, clean-up legislation will be required next year to obtain funding for the new Board and some other issues which were not resolved prior to the Legislative deadlines. SB 702 (Mike McGuire, D-North Coast) allows pear packers in Lake County to continue to employ 16 and 17-year old workers for up to 10 hours/day and up to 60 hours/week during peak harvest season when schools are not in session upon approval by the Lake County Board of Education. State law permits employment of 16- and 17-year olds up to 8 hours per day and up to 48 hours per week when schools are not in session. Farm Bureau supported.

SB 1167 (Connie Leyva, D-Chino) directs Cal/OSHA to propose a regulation on heat illness for indoor work environments to the Cal/OSHA Standards Board. It requires that the proposed standard should meet or exceed the protections included in the existing Heat Illness Prevention standard which applies to outdoor employers, like agriculture, construction and landscaping. Farm Bureau opposed.

SB 1234 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles) creates a state-operated pension system for workers whose employers do not offer retirement savings programs. Extensive amendments removed opposition of employer advocates, including Farm Bureau.


AB 995 (Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals) would have created a new pilot transportation program in the counties of Madera, Kings and Fresno. Agricultural vehicles that are now restricted to a one-mile travel distance would have been able to travel 20 air-miles when transporting harvested goods from the point of origin (field) to the first point of processing. The governor’s veto message stated that: “Exemptions like those proposed in this bill are best considered as part of a comprehensive transportation funding solution to address the state's $57 billion deferred maintenance backlog.” Farm Bureau supported.

AB 2148 (Chris Holden, D-Pasadena) would have restricted the use of drones on land owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Parks and Recreation. The bill had been amended to prohibit the use of drones in the taking or to assist in the taking of wildlife. That language would have prohibited the use of drones to haze birds off of agricultural lands or to use drones to track wildlife that had injured or killed livestock. The author and sponsors worked with Farm Bureau to narrow the bill to only prohibit the use of drones for taking of fish and wildlife for sport and allow the departments to consider limited access over state lands by neighboring agricultural operations when adopting regulations. The governor’s veto message stated that; “These departments have authority to promulgate regulations regarding drone use within their respective jurisdictions. In fact, the Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of developing a regulatory approach to this issue. I am directing both departments to explore how best to address the concerns raised by this bill.

SB 554 (Lois Wolk, D-Davis) would have extended the July 1, 2018 sunset on the current authorization of a 75 percent state cost-share in the Delta levee maintenance or improvement program to July 1, 2020.

Without this measure the state reimbursement would be reduced to 50 percent. The governor’s veto message stated that: “A number of efforts are underway to determine the levee protection needs in the Delta. The Delta Stewardship Council is currently in the middle of identifying state priorities for levee investments in the Delta, and the Department of Water Resources has been working with the Delta Protection Commission evaluating new financing mechanisms. The existing 75 percent state cost share does not sunset until July 2018, and as such, consideration of this bill is premature.” Farm Bureau supported.

SB 1078 (Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) would have imposed new and unnecessary restrictions on arbitrators and companies providing arbitration services and thus making arbitration less useful and efficient. It would have seriously hampered the ability of the providers of arbitration services to function, diminishing or eliminating arbitration as a practical option for resolving disputes, especially for parties who frequently seek the advantages of speed and cost efficiency offered by arbitration compared to civil court. The governor believes current law is adequate and sees no evidence for the need for SB 1078, Farm Bureau opposed.


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