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SEPTEMBER 14, 2007 California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review

A proposed constitutional amendment designed to confuse voters and undermine Farm Bureau’s eminent domain reform initiative failed miserably on the last night of session in the Assembly. ACA 8 (Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate) was sponsored by the League of Cities and the California Redevelopment Association, the very agencies that take private property in order to transfer the land to favored developers for “redevelopment” and increased tax revenue. The sponsors attempt to complicate and confuse the issue with last minute amendments purported to address the concerns of agricultural and faith-based communities, could make the proverbial silk purse out of this sow’s ear. Despite a virtual army of lobbyists working on behalf of the proposal and a disinformation campaign regarding our ballot measure, they could not crack the Republicans’ resolve to see meaningful reform enacted in California. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, meaning 54 votes were required for passage in the Assembly. The final vote was 45 to 30.

The roll call on ACA 8 was “AYES” (45): Arambula, Bass, Beall, Berg, Brownley, Caballero, Calderon, Carter, Coto, Davis, De La Torre, De Leon, De Saulnier, Dymally, Eng, Evans, Feuer, Fuentes, Hancock, Hayashi, Hernandez, Huffman, Jones, Karnette, Krekorian, Laird, Leno, Levine, Lieber, Lieu, Ma, Mendoza, Mullin, Nava, Nuñez, Portantino, Price, Ruskin, Salas, Saldaña, Solorio, Soto, Swanson, Torrico, and Wolk.

“NOES” (3): Adams, Aghazarian, Anderson, Benoit, Berryhill, Blakeslee, Cook, De Vore, Duvall, Emmerson, Fuller, Gaines, Garcia, Garrick, Houston, Huff, Jeffries, Keene, La Malfa, Maze, Nakanishi, Niello, Plescia, Runner, Silva, Smyth, Spitzer, Tran, Villines, and Walters.

Absent or Not Voting: Galgiani, Horton, Parra, and Strickland.

The United Farm Workers Union (UFW) seem to be concerned that Governor Schwarzenegger may veto SB 180 (Carole Migden, D-San Francisco). The UFW sponsored, SB 180 would deprive agricultural employees of their right to a secret ballot election for unionization. In the final days of the Legislative Session, SB 650 (formerly a transportation bill) was gutted and amended to include the same language as SB 180, but adding a sunset clause that would make it expire on January 1, 2013. The clause provides no consolation to agricultural employers and hopefully will provide the Governor with no excuse to support it. Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups are vehemently opposed to SB 650 as well as SB 180 and are asking the Governor to veto both measures.

Watch for a new FARM TEAM Action Alert on these and other measures next week.

The Assembly took up SB 691 (Charles Calderon, D-Whittier) last week. This bill was gutted and amended by the scrap metal recyclers. It was also a failed attempt at reform by the industry. Numerous members of the Assembly spoke in opposition to the bill and raised concerns with the provision that

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would have preempted all city and county ordinances addressing the issue of metal theft. They also spoke to the fact that the bill created a huge loophole, essentially creating incentives for metal theft by paying cash to frequent sellers. Ultimately the bill only garnered six votes which was well short of the 41 votes necessary for passage. While it is unfortunate that the legislature won’t be addressing the issue of metal theft this year, the debate surrounding SB 691 made it clear that the legislature deems this an important issue that needs to be addressed correctly. CFBF will be requesting new legislation to address the issue of metal theft during next year’s legislative session.

AB 684 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), the bill that would allow the production of industrial hemp in Imperial, Kings, Mendocino, and Yolo counties, passed out of the Senate and Assembly this week. Senator Denham was the floor manager for the bill in the Senate. Assembly Member Leno amended the bill significantly to address some of the concerns raised by certain members of the law enforcement community. It will be interesting to see whether the amendments were enough to gain the Governor’s signature. CFBF has no position on this bill.

AB 771 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles) passed out of the Senate and the Assembly this week. This is the bill to address the conflict between seedless mandarin growers and beekeepers. The final Senate floor vote was 23-11, with an eclectic group of Senators voting no or abstaining. The bill passed more easily in the Assembly, it received a unanimous vote out of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and a vote of 65-9 off the Assembly floor. The bill was amended again last week to extend the time the coexistence working group has to come to a compromise and completely removed reference to emergency regulations. Now the bill gives the Secretary of CDFA the authority to implement regulations at anytime, but requires him to implement regulations by February of 2009 if the working group is unable to develop a solution by June of 2008. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk and CFBF is neutral.

SB 63 (Carole Migden, D-San Francisco) passed off the floors of both the Senate and Assembly this week. This bill will require all meat and milk from cloned animals or their progeny to be labeled and requires sellers of all cloned livestock or their progeny to disclose this fact at the time of the sale. CFBF opposes this bill because it would act as a ban on the technology, and labeling a product that is no different from its conventional counterpart provides no useful information to consumers. CFBF will be asking the Governor to veto this bill.

SB 719 (Mike Machado, D-Linden) was approved by the Assembly on a 42-32 vote, enabling the current San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control Governing Board to increase from 11 to 15 members. CFBF is grateful to Assembly Member Nicole Parra (D- Hanford) who led the charge against SB 719 and made every attempt to defeat it. She offered amendments that would have allowed two public members with medical expertise to be appointed by the SJV air board, but the author rejected this. As proposed, SB 719 will instead add two new members who would be elected representatives from valley city councils and two public members with medical expertise, appointed by the Governor but subject to Senate confirmation. It is unfortunate that this legislation is lauded to fix the complex air quality issues faced by the SJV. It would be nice if improving the valley’s air quality was this simple. Adding two medical representatives on the SJV air board’s governing board will not clean the air. It only allows two individuals to make important decisions without any accountability to the voters of the eight SJV counties. CFBF will ask the Governor to veto SB 719.

After a brief battle, the Speaker of the Assembly intervened on behalf of SB 1001 (Don Perata, D-Oakland), which then easily passed out of the Assembly. Then, after a perfunctory concurrence vote in the Senate the bill moved on to the Governor’s desk. This bill reduces the balance of appointments on the nine regional water quality control boards by eliminating the current categories from which the nine members are appointed. Both background and experience are necessary for board members to effectively implement the balance of factors that the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act requires to be reflected in water quality

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standards and permits. SB 1001 also allows the State Water Resources Control Board to revoke the regulatory authority of the regional water quality control boards. The regional boards were created by the legislature, and the legislature should not authorize another state agency to revoke their regulatory authority. Taken together, these provisions would effectively eliminate the independence of the regional water quality control boards as regulatory agencies. Farm Bureau is opposed and will encourage the Governor to veto the bill when it reaches his desk.

SB 1002 (Perata, D – Oakland) allocates funds for expenditure from the recently enacted Proposition 84, for a variety of water related actions. Amendments taken late in the session imposed unreasonable restriction on the use of funds necessary to complete feasibility studies for proposed surface storage projects. The amendments also direct the State Water Resources Control Board to propose a plan for the clean up of nitrates in groundwater in the Tulare Basin and in the Salinas Basin. These clean up plans are to include identification of potentially responsible parties and funding sources, which will presumably include cost recovery assessments and fees on current landowners in these areas. Farm Bureau is opposed to this bill and will encourage the governor to veto it.

The measure that would impose a $30 per Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) fee on all containerized cargo moving in or out of the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland is now a two-year bill. Senator Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) has agreed to hold SB 974 to allow time to work on the issues raised by the measure. Farm Bureau agrees with the intent of SB 974 to improve port security and efficiency and to reduce pollution and congestion, but this one-size fits-all tax on all containerized cargo will do nothing but hurt California’s agricultural economy. CFBF will work with the Senator’s office during the interim legislative break to draft alternatives acceptable to the agricultural community before removing our opposition to the bill.
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