Capitol Alert


Issue Date: October 12, 2011
By Rich Matteis

Legislative year ends with successes for family farms

The 2011 legislative year has come to an end, concluding another successful session for California family farmers and ranchers. During the past year, we tracked hundreds of bills with the potential for real and lasting impact on your farming and ranching operations.

Many times, we have encouraged you to send messages to legislators, asking them to protect agriculture in California. Thanks to the help of our grassroots members who used FARM TEAM Alerts and other calls to action, along with the hard work of Farm Bureau staff, we experienced a great deal of success.

Farm Bureau supported eight bills that were sent to the governor at the end of the session, and Gov. Brown signed all eight. FARM TEAM members sent more than 650 messages to the governor, urging him to support Assembly Bill 964 regarding conditional water rights and AB 634 regarding vertebrate pest control, both of which were recently signed into law.

It is also important to note that we succeeded in helping to stop bills from being passed in the Legislature that would have harmed farmers and ranchers. ABX 1 24 and Senate Bill X 1 7 would have imposed excessive fire protection fees on landowners. FARM TEAM members sent more than 750 messages to legislators, urging them to stop these bills. With your hard work, legislators heeded your call and the bills failed in committee.

Even though the governor signed many bills that will help agriculture, he also signed two of the bills that we opposed: AB 243 (farm labor disclosure) and SB 459 (independent contractors). This means that even though we had success this year, we can strive to do even more in 2012.

With an election year close upon us, Farm Bureau will remain extremely active in monitoring the political environment and laying the groundwork for next year's legislative session. With your help, we will continue our efforts to protect and promote California's bountiful agriculture in Sacramento.

(Rich Matteis is administrator of the California Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted at rmatteis@cfbf.com.)

Farm Bureau SUPPORTED this legislation

AB 6 (Fuentes, D-Los Angeles) - Streamlining of CalFresh
AB 6 works to improve access to California-grown fruits and vegetables through the CalFresh program, commonly known as "food stamps." This bill streamlines the reporting requirements, implements cost-saving measures and a "heat and eat" provision that will improve access to additional federal funding.
Signed by governor

AB 69 (Beall, D-San Jose) - Senior Nutrition Benefits
AB 69 works to improve access to California-grown fruits and vegetables for seniors, ensuring they receive proper nutrition. This bill will improve the coordination between counties and the federal Social Security Administration, increasing the enrollment of eligible seniors into the CalFresh program.
Signed by governor

AB 228 (Fuentes, D-Los Angeles) - State Compensation Insurance Fund
AB 228 improves the business climate by providing California employers who also operate businesses out of state an opportunity to seek workers' compensation insurance coverage for all employees in a one-stop application process.
Signed by governor

AB 292 (Galgiani, D-Livingston) - High-Speed Rail Agricultural Advisory
AB 292 would have improved communication between agriculture and the High-Speed Rail Authority by requiring the authority to appoint a nine-member agricultural advisory committee.
Placed on Inactive File

AB 634 (Huber, D-El Dorado Hills) - Vertebrate Pest Control
AB 634 provides additional tools for controlling rodent infestations. It allows for the use of carbon monoxide as a safe, targeted and humane method of control.
Signed by governor

AB 964 (Huffman, D-San Rafael) - Conditional Water Rights
AB 964 protects the environment while improving the business climate by providing a means for farmers to obtain authorization to develop small offstream storage projects that could be used for irrigation while protecting fisheries.
Signed by governor

AB 1236 (Fong, D-Mountain View) - E-Verify
AB 1236 protects the work force by prohibiting local governments from requiring use of the federal E-Verify system.
Signed by governor

SB 489 (Wolk, D-Davis) - Net Metering
SB 489 promotes environmental benefits while improving the business climate by expanding the reach of net metering to any renewable energy source as currently defined, opening additional opportunities for farmers and ranchers to use net metering.
Signed by governor

SB 618 (Wolk, D-Davis) - Williamson Act & Solar Projects
SB 618 protects prime agricultural land while encouraging the use of renewable energy by allowing landowners with marginally productive farmland to rescind their Williamson Act contract if placed into a newly created solar-use easement.
Signed by governor

SB 900 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) - Regional Water Quality Control Boards
SB 900 would have increased confidence in regional water quality control boards by expanding the pool of candidates eligible to serve, allowing a person to serve who receives or has received a portion of their income from someone who is subject to waste discharge requirements in another regional board's jurisdiction.
Placed on Inactive File

Farm Bureau OPPOSED this legislation

AB 197 (Monning, D-Carmel) - Recovery of Wages: Liquidated Damages
AB 197 would have threatened the business climate by unreasonably expanding employer liability by doubling the liquidated damages that can be awarded against employers in minimum wage actions in court.
Placed on Inactive File

AB 243 (Alejo, D-Watsonville) - Farm Labor Contractor Disclosure
AB 243 increases liability on growers by requiring farm labor contractors to disclose information about the farmers and ranchers on their workers' pay stubs.
Signed by governor

AB 246 (Wieckowski, D-Fremont) - Water Quality Enforcement
AB 246 would have increased the role of government by transferring water quality enforcement to a district or city attorney in a jurisdiction that exceeds 750,000 in population. The bill would have circumvented the ability of the Regional Water Quality Control Board to evaluate and take action on enforcement issues.
Placed on Inactive File

AB 276 (Alejo, D-Salinas) - Agricultural Bargaining Agreements
AB 276 would have harmed the business climate by repealing the provision establishing conditions necessary for making a renewed demand to bargain and would instead have provided that the declaration for mandatory mediation may be filed 180 days after any request to bargain.
Failed in committee

AB 685 (Eng, D-Monterey Park) - Accessibility of Water
AB 685 would have increased the role of government by establishing state policy that every human being have the right to clean, affordable and accessible water for human consumption, cooking and sanitary purposes. This bill would have required state agencies to consider this policy in revising, adopting or establishing policies, regulations and grant criteria.
Failed in committee

AB 1062 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) - Arbitration Agreements
AB 1062 would have harmed the business climate by restricting the use of arbitration agreements in California, forcing many employment disputes into the state court system instead of being settled in widely accepted, faster and less costly ways.
Placed on Inactive File

AB 1155 (Alejo, D-Salinas) - Workers' Compensation
AB 1155 would have increased the cost of doing business by changing the way the degree of impairment is determined in a workers' compensation injury. This bill would have restricted a physician from using race or any other protected class when making an apportionment decision, ultimately opening decisions up for litigation and increasing employers' costs.
Vetoed by governor

ABX1 24 (Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles) & SBX1 7 (Budget Committee) - Fire Protection Fees
ABX1 24 and SBX 1 7 would have imposed additional taxes on rural landowners to pay for fire protection activities. Landowners would have been assessed a per acre fee as well as a per structure fee for each building or structure on the land owned, placing a large burden of funding CalFire on rural residents.
Failed in committee

SB 104 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) - Union elections
SB 104 would have denied employees of protections by permitting a "majority signup" or "card check" system, rather than requiring a secret ballot for union elections.
Vetoed by governor

SB 459 (Corbett, D-San Leandro) - Independent Contractors
SB 459 increases the cost of doing business by fining and holding employers responsible for "willful misclassification" of an employee when determining whether or not the individual is an independent contractor, without giving clear guidance on how to make the determination.
Signed by governor

SB 535 (De Leon, D-Los Angeles) - Climate Change Fund
SB 535 would have created an illegal tax by allocating 10 percent of an unknown amount of revenue raised by the implementation of AB 32 to accelerate greenhouse gas emission reductions and mitigate direct health impacts of climate change in the most impacted and disadvantaged communities.
Failed in committee

SB 829 (DeSaulnier, D-Concord) - Cal/OSHA Appeals
SB 829 threatened the business climate by undermining employer rights in Cal/OHSA citations by allowing private parties to interfere with the appeals process.
Failed in committee

SB 931 (Evans, D-Santa Rosa) - Payroll Cards
SB 931 would have denied employees of protections currently seen through the convenience of payroll cards by adding regulations onto employers and financial institutions, making the use of payroll cards unlikely.
Vetoed by governor

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