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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday
Legislative and Governmental Update
February 28, 2014
The deadline for bills to be introduced for the kick-off of the second half of the 2013-14 legislative session was last Friday, February 21st. Many bills are only simple concepts and are used to basically announce "something" will be developed on this issue, we call these spot bills. Bills must be in print 30 days to give everyone time to review and discuss them before they can be heard in a policy committee. The Assembly introduced 1,304 new bills; beat out only slightly by the 1,460 in the Senate. This week’s Friday Review highlights a majority of the bills that Farm Bureau will be involved with, but does not list every bill that could impact the agricultural community. Farm Bureau takes very few positions this early in the legislative process as many favorable or unfavorable changes could occur before the bills have their first hearing. Positions will be noted in future Friday Reviews as they are developed.
SB 1077 (Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord) requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to develop, a pilot program by July 1, 2015 to assess the issues related to implementation of a vehicle-miles-traveled fee (VMT). The DMV would report their findings to the legislature’s policy and fiscal committees by June 30, 2016.
SB 1353 (Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber) repeals the January 1, 2016 sunset date on the nine and 18-year Williamson Act contracts that require participating landowners to forego ten percent of their property tax relief in a direct payment back to the counties. The original measure, AB 1265 was a Farm Bureau-sponsored measure to provide counties with an alternative to exiting the land conservation program through mass nonrenewals of their contracts. To date, 11 counties have opted for the shorter term contract option (Butte, Kings, Lassen, Madera, Mendocino, Merced, Shasta, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, and Yolo) while Imperial County exited the program altogether despite this funding option.
AB 2241(Susan Eggman, D-Stockton) provides an incentive for counties to implement the solar-use easement provisions of the Williamson Act by providing a modest increase in the required rescission fee and allowing counties to retain half. When rescinding a Williamson Act (WA) or Farmland Security Zone (FSZ) contract and replacing it with a solar-use easement, a rescission fee is required equal to 6.25 percent of the fair market value of the property for a standard WA contract and 12.5 percent for the 20-year FSZ contract. This Farm Bureau-sponsored measure would set the fee at 10 percent for the standard and FSZ contracts and allow the counties to keep five percent.
Existing law allows marginally productive or physically impaired land, restricted by a Williamson Act contract, to be converted to a solar-use easement agreement for the sole purpose of siting a large-scale solar facility provided certain conditions are met. The intent of solar use easements was to provide an alternative mechanism for counties to exit a contract on marginal land as well as provide statewide uniformity with respect to financial assurances for subsequent reclamation of the site. Farm Bureau 2
believes that this measure would further encourage the use of solar-use easements on marginally productive or physically impaired land.
Assembly Member Eggman also introduced AB 1961 to require counties to adopt Sustainable Farmland Strategies for their agriculturally zoned land by January 1, 2018. The bill would require counties to map and inventory their agricultural zoned areas, describe the goals, strategies and related policies in their General Plans and ordinances intended to retain its agricultural zoned land and, where practical, to mitigate for the loss of agricultural zoned land. Farm Bureau worked closely with the author and sponsors in the drafting of this bill to insure that it conforms to our land use policies. Farm Bureau supports.
A bipartisan fire prevention fee clean-up bill was introduced by Assembly Members Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata), and Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) with Senator Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) a principal coauthor. AB 2048 would clarify terms, like habitable structure, and remove the requirement that redetermination petitions be sent to the Board of Equalization (BOE) as well as the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It would remove the current 20 percent late penalty and allow the Board of Equalization to consider late petitions for redetermination after 30-days. Perhaps most importantly, AB 2048 would allow the BOE to exempt a structure from the fee if it is deemed uninhabitable due to a natural disaster, such as a catastrophic fire. While Farm Bureau believes that this illegal tax on rural homeowners is unconstitutional and should be repealed, the wheels of justice turn excruciatingly slow. In the meantime, we will be supporting these much needed changes for the sake of fairness in the implementation of this fatally flawed statute.
AB 1519 (Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks) repeals the civil penalty for unpaid fire prevention fees in the State Responsibility Areas. The penalty is currently equal to 20 percent of the fee for each 30-day period that the fee remains unpaid. Farm Bureau supports.
AB 1954 (Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point) allows landowners in the State Responsible Area (SRA) and subject to the fire prevention fee to appeal a petition for redetermination by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to the State Board of Equalization. The bill sets up the appeal procedure that could include an oral hearing before the board. If appealed, all legal action to collect the fee would be stayed until a final determination by the board. As noted above regarding AB 2048, Farm supports the outright repeal of the illegal SRA tax on homeowners, but will be supporting these important administrative changes in fairness to rural residents while the matter is settled in the courts.
SB 832 (Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin) exempts the owner of property in the State Responsibility Area from the payment of the fire prevention fee if the owner’s structure has been destroyed or significantly damaged by natural disaster. Farm Bureau supports.
SB 1007 (Mark Wyland, R-Escondido) requires the Superintendent of Public Education and the State Board of Education to consider ways to expand career technical education programs in middle and high schools. The measure also requires the governing board of each school district to reconstitute the state mandated Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee in order to work with the appropriate representatives from agriculture, trade, industry, and career technical education sectors.
AB 1950 (Nora Campos, D-San Jose) would establish fiscal incentives for school districts to offer, or continue to offer CTE and college ready courses for kindergarten through grade 12. The bill would appropriate $250 million in the annual Budget Act to provide incentive grant funding to be administered by a CTE consortia that will manage the program. 3
AB 2307 (Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks) amends the California Education Code relating to CTE. The measure would create the option of a multi-year comprehensive school program that integrates academic and technical study that is not limited to the model standards adopted by the state board. It would ensure that students have the curriculum choices that will prepare them for career and postsecondary education options.
AB 1908 (Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals) amends the Vehicle Code to exempt from registration a motor vehicle used in the transport of onions. The motor vehicle will be exempt if it is designed for and used exclusively in an agricultural operation and is not for hire, is operated by a farmer; an employee of the farmer; or a contracted employee for a distance not to exceed 20 miles from the point of origin of the trip.
AB 1722 (Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals) prohibits anyone convicted of grand theft for stealing livestock from registering and owning a brand for five years after the conviction. It also increases the statutory authority for the fee paid for each site where a brand inspection occurs to $12. The current fee is $12, but the statute allows the Secretary to increase the fee no more than 20 percent above the current statutory authority, which is $10.
AB 1782 (Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata) increases the fine for people convicted of removing telephone, cable, or electrical wires from $500 to $50,000 to address metal theft. Farm Bureau supports.
AB 1867 (Jim Patterson, R-Fresno) allows the cutting or removal of trees without a Timber Harvest Plan to create defensible space within 300 feet of a legally permitted structure.
AB 1871 (Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento) improves oversight of certified farmers’ markets to reduce fraudulent activity and is a continuation of AB 996 from last year. It increases funding for CDFA and the Agricultural Commissioners to improve enforcement through an increase in fees assessed on market operators from $0.60 to $2 per vendor per market day. Farm Bureau supports.
AB 1909 (Mariko Yamada, D-Davis) is a spot bill that the author intends to use to address the current burdens identified by the requirement to report the production amount of individual commodities during the organic registration process.
AB 2082 (Brian Dahle, R-Bieber) gives the Board of Forestry the authority to adopt alternative stocking standards when forests are replanted after harvest to match the local conditions.
AB 2094 (Mariko Yamada, D-Davis) is a spot bill expressing the intent to address the liability risks and challenges for farms participating in agritourism.
AB 2112 (Brian Dahle, R-Bieber) allows the notice of extension for Timber Harvest Plans to be filed 140 days prior to expiration of the THP. The filing period was inadvertently changed in previous legislation to 30 days.
AB 2184 (Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata) authorizes funds from the Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund, created by AB 1492, to be used to provide grants to remediate former marijuana growing operations.
AB 2185 (Susan Eggman, D Stockton) expands access for bee forage to state owned lands. Farm Bureau supports. 4
AB 2193 (Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park) is meant to create a simplified permitting process for projects to enhance or restore wildlife habitat that are permitted through the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
AB 2210 (Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara) was introduced as a placeholder if the Fish and Game Commission decides to make statutory changes based on ongoing discussions of existing predator management. The Humane Society of the United States asked for the bill to be introduced. However, it includes concerning provisions that have not been agreed upon by the Commission including a requirement that all traps be checked within 24 hours of their placement and every 24 hours thereafter. Also included is that all non-target wildlife be released from traps unharmed. Farm Bureau opposes.
AB 2312 (Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert) requires a junk dealer or recycler to participate in the theft alert system maintained by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and would encourage law enforcement to report thefts of metal to that system.
AB 2313 (Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert) is a spot bill that the author intends to amend to create a metal theft task force system modeled after the Rural Crime Prevention Programs and funded by fees assessed on the sale of recycled metal.
AB 2505 (Mariko Yamada, D-Davis) allows "home dairy farms" with less than three cows, or 15 sheep or goats to sell their raw milk through direct sales meeting only the standards set forth in the bill.
AB 2602 (Susan Eggman, D-Stockton) creates a grant program at CDFA to provide grants to school districts to increase student access to fresh and nutritious school meals. The bill does not include any funding for the program and makes implementation contingent upon appropriation of funds.
SB 1076 (Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Nigel) allows eggs to be sold in California so long as they meet housing size requirements set forth in CDFA’s Shell Egg Food Safety Program.
SB 1332 (Lois Wolk, D-Davis) gives Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) the authority to regulate carbon monoxide pest control devices and enforce regulations to ensure the proper use of those devices.
Currently agricultural commissioner’s already have broad authority to regulate pesticide applications in any situation, especially within ¼ mile of any school. SB 1411 (Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) would unnecessarily add further specificity to this authority by explicitly stating that agricultural commissioner’s can develop regulations to completely prohibit pesticide use within ¼ mile of any school. It also mandates that a pesticide applicator must give written detailed notification one week prior to occupants of schools, residences, hospitals, onsite employee housing or similar sites that are within 1,200 feet of the perimeter of any aerial or air blast application of category I and II pesticide products or any soil fumigation. The notice must contain the date of the application and must be reissued at least 24 hours in advance if the proposed application date changes. Posting signs to warn that a restricted entry interval for the application applies must have the telephone number of the agricultural sommissioner and the pesticide applicator. The applicator’s number shall be available to be answered 24/7. Farm Bureau opposes.
Another effort has been introduced to create a California-only labeling bill for food that has been genetically modified. SB 1381 (Noreen Evans, D- Santa Rosa) is a combination of previous efforts with some slightly different approaches. It is focused on requiring packaged and raw agricultural commodities supplied for retail sale to be conspicuously labeled on the front or back of the package or on the shelf, container or bin with the words "Genetically Engineered". While prevailing plaintiffs can 5 be awarded reasonable attorney’s fee and costs incurred in investigating and prosecuting the action, no monetary damages will be paid. No action shall be brought against a grower who is not a retailer or manufacturer unless they swear to a false statement pertaining to genetic modification of their commodity and would then be subject to perjury laws. Restaurants and food consumption by animals is exempt.
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) held a second Drought Workshop this week regarding immediate drought response options and actions to increase water conservation, reuse and recycling. Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and representatives from the Department of Water Resources, Department of Public Health and USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service where also invited to sit with the State Water Board members during the workshop. An Agricultural Water Measures panel with representatives from Driscoll, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District presented first, followed by a Small Community/Rural Water Measures panel and an Urban Water Measures panel. Lastly, an environmental panel represented by California Coastkeeper Alliance, Monterey Coastkeeper and the Otter Project, and Klamath Riverkeeper presented, followed by individual public comment. Farm Bureau provide testimony highlighting the severe impacts on agricultural production from forced water conservation, idling of hundreds of thousands of acres of productive land, the increased water efficiency efforts in recent decades by farmers and ranchers, increasing production by 60% while using 14.5% less water and investing more than $3 billion dollars in the past 10 years upgrading irrigation systems.
Ten measures have recently been introduced that would repeal provisions of the $11.14 billion Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act currently scheduled to go before California voters November 4th this year. Each measure varies in size and structure. The measures are: AB 1331 (Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood), AB 1445 (Dan Logue, R-Marysville), AB 2043 (Connie Conway, R-Tulare/Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals), AB 2686 (Henry Perea, D-Fresno), SB 40 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), SB 848 (Lois Wolk, D-Davis), SB 927 (Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres/Andy Vidak, R-Fresno), SB 1080 (Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield), SB 1250 (Ben Hueso, D-San Diego) and SB 1370 (Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton).
Farm Bureau remains actively engaged in all of these measures and every effort to impact the size and structure of the water bond, emphasize the need for increased water storage, area of origin water rights protections and continuous appropriation for water storage dollars. SB 848 (Lois Wolk, D-Davis) has begun to move through policy hearings. Farm Bureau has an Opposed Unless Amended position and will evaluate the other nine measures as they begin to move through and be heard in policy committees. A number of groundwater measures have recently been introduced. We will report in greater detail in the coming weeks the various measures and other related groundwater issues emerging. Additionally, the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife and the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation will hold a joint groundwater information oversight hearing to look at the Management of California’s Groundwater Resources. The hearing will be heldTuesday, March 11th in the State Capitol, Room 437 at 9:00 a.m. Farm Bureau continues to emphasize the need for local/regional management of groundwater basins, the need to expand new water storage options which is a critical necessity from a water management standpoint, including groundwater recharge functions.
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Page Updated: Thursday March 06, 2014 04:08 AM Pacific
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