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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Legislative Review

March 3, 2017

Last week we listed a large number of bills that were introduced by the legislature and that have a clear impact the agricultural community. We continue with more from this list as they have developed over the last week. Farm Bureau positions on these bills will be included once we have had a chance to work with the various legislative representatives. Land Use: SB 50 (Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica) would prohibit the filing or recording of a deed for property sold by the federal government unless the State Lands Commission is provided the right of first refusal to purchase the land or the right to arrange for the transfer of property to another entity. Anyone who files or records a deed in violation of this would be subject to civil penalties. Farm Bureau is opposed.

Natural Resources: Both the Senate and Assembly have introduced legislation to put a bond on the June 5, 2018 ballot to fund environmental priorities. The two proposals, AB 18 (Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella) and SB 5 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles), will ultimately be merged, but currently they each contain slightly over $3 billion. The proposals include funds to create trails and acquire land for several environmental priorities. Land acquisition could occur for wildlife corridors, habitat for threatened and endangered species, Native American resource protection, and creation and expansion of parks. The bills also include funding for fire reduction and forest health improvement projects. SB 5 includes $1.5 billion for clean drinking water and drought preparedness and $500 million for flood protection and repairs.

More specifically in the water and flood protection areas, SB 5 includes:

 $375 million for projects that improve water quality, or help provide clean, safe and reliable drinking water;  $375 million for integrated regional water management planning projects that respond to climate change and contribute to regional water security;  $375 million for the public benefit cost share of surface and groundwater storage projects, and conjunctive use and reservoir reoperation projects;  $375 million for groundwater quality protection and cleanup projects;  $300 million with matching funds from local and regional flood protection agencies for flood protection facilities and levee improvements;  $100 million for levee repairs and restoration within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and
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 $100 million for stormwater, mudslide and other flash-flood related protections.


SB 49 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles and Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park) would require California to enforce the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA), and their implementing regulations and policies as they were in place on January 1, 2016 or January 1, 2017, whichever version is the most stringent. Additionally, the bill would create a private right of action in state law for citizen enforcement of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and ESA if the citizen suit provisions are removed from these federal laws. Specific to the Clean Water Act provisions, SB 49 requires the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to ensure that all waste discharge requirements, permits issued, and water quality control plans adopted after January 1, 2018 be at least as protective of the environment and public health as federal standards in place as of January 1, 2016 or 2017. SB 49 also would add all native species that are listed under the federal ESA to the list of species protected by the California Endangered Species Act. Farm Bureau is opposed to SB 49.

Transportation:

The 2017-2018 legislative session commenced with three separate transportation funding proposals. SB 1 (Jim Beall, D-San Jose) is the Senate Transportation funding bill that would create a network of permanent new taxes and fees designed to raise an additional $5.5 billion annually to fund maintenance on state highways and local streets and roads and to help fund transit programs and goods movement infrastructure. It further expands an existing CEQA for minor roadway repairs and maintenance. It also establishes the Advance Mitigation Program that allows parties to participate in regional conservation projects prior to undertaking a project requiring CEQA review and mitigation.

However, the measure fails to invest a single dollar of general fund revenue into rebuilding Californiaís transportation system, it also fails to return all the weight fee revenues currently being siphoned from transportation to bolster the general fund.

The following is a summary of the taxes and increases SB 1 would impose beginning July 1, 2017:

 $0.12 per gallon excise tax on gasoline staggered over three years  $0.20 per gallon excise tax on diesel fuel  4% increase of the sales and use surtax on diesel fuel, increases the sales and use surtax on diesel fuel from 1.75% to 5.75%  $38 increase on vehicle registration and a new $100 annual vehicle registration fee on zeroemissions motor vehicles.

In addition, the $9 million annually deposited in the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund from the Motor Vehicle Fuel Account will instead be transferred to the Highway Users Tax Account and the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account. CDFA transfers this funding for a variety of agricultural programs and essential activities such as pest management, pesticide enforcement and the Agriculture Commissioners to name a few.

In addition to SB 1, AB 1 (Jim Frazier, D-Oakley) aims to address the stateís unmet transportation funding, but proposes a 0.5% lower sales and use tax on diesel fuel. AB 1 is estimated to raise $6 billion yearly. Additionally, in the Governorís budget proposal, the Governor introduced a transportation funding plan
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projected to generate approximately $4.2 billion each year. Primarily, the Governorís plan raises revenues through an annual road improvement charge of $65, an adjustment of the gasoline tax by ending the fuel tax swap and $0.11 increase in the diesel excise tax.

According to sources at the Capitol there are daily discussions and negotiations going on between the Governorís office, Senator Beall, Assembly Member Frazier, the Assembly Speaker and Senate Pro Tem to hammer out a transportation funding plan agreeable to all parties. Farm Bureau has not yet taken a formal position as final versions of the legislation are still being developed.

Labor: On March 1, the Senate Rules Committee approved the appointment of former state Senator Isadore Hall to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. The Committee also approved the appointment of ALRB General Counsel Julia L. Montgomery. Both nominations now proceed to the full Senate for final approval

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