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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review of bills and laws 2/17/12

Illegal immigrants and timber harvest deal

February 17, 2012

Assembly Member V. Manuel Perez (D-El Centro) has introduced two bills that could inject California into the national immigration debate. AB 1544 would create the California Agricultural Jobs and Industry Stabilization Program, to be administered by the Employment Development Department. The Program would issue permits to undocumented workers and their immediate family members to work and reside in California. An undocumented person could qualify after demonstrating 150 hours of paid work in the agriculture or service industries, pass an English proficiency exam and pass a criminal background check. Undocumented persons in the program would be required to pay a fee to cover the costs of program administration.

AB 1546 (V. Manuel Perez, D-El Centro) would establish the California High-Skilled Worker Retention and Family program. EDD would be authorized to issue "resident immigrant status" to a foreign national not currently living in the United States, if that foreign national is sponsored by a citizen, a person who is lawfully admitted to the United States or small business promising to provide material support to the foreign national and ensuring he or she will not become a public charge.

Both bills would require the granting of necessary authority by the federal government before they can be implemented. This is in apparent recognition of the fact that the state does not have the authority to allow employers to employ undocumented workers or to admit workers except through existing federal immigration programs.

SB 455 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), which would create a voluntary watershed timber harvest permit (WTHP), passed out of the Senate this week. A WTHP would allow timberland owners to obtain 20-year permits to harvest their lands in return for maintaining their lands in timber production and managing them in a way to increase carbon sequestration. The bill is a work in progress and discussions will continue between the sponsors of the bill, The Nature Conservancy and Pacific Forest Trust, the forest products industry and environmental opponents. In addition to the issues to be negotiated in regards to a WTHP, the bill also includes a requirement for mitigation for carbon losses from timberland conversions greater than one acre. Farm Bureau has expressed concerns over this new requirement and has asked for the conversion permitting requirements to be consistent with the existing requirement to obtain a timberland conversion permit for conversions of three acres or above. The bill passed out of the Senate with a vote of

21-3 and now moves to the Assembly.




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