Capitol Alert


Issue Date: August 6, 2014

Your Guide to Legislation that Impacts California Family Farmers and Ranchers 

Legislators returned to Sacramento this week to conclude the 2013-14 legislative session. Farm Bureau staff has been monitoring and weighing in on hundreds of bills. The number of bills remaining is small in comparison to previous years—but we do face one of the biggest issues farmers and ranchers have encountered in years.

Some in the Legislature want to rush toward a new groundwater policy that could threaten property rights, overlying groundwater rights and simply take water for environmental purposes.

Appropriate protection of groundwater resources for future generations must be carefully thought out. It is imperative that decision makers consider all the impacts any groundwater policy will have on those who live and work on our agricultural landscape.

The groundwater challenges we face today are not solely because of a lack of regulation, but the inaction of the state and federal governments to update an inadequate system for capturing and delivering surface water. Consequently, efforts should be focused on developing a bond that addresses the state's current and future needs, including our growing population, the environment and agriculture.

A number of bills that could have been detrimental to farming and ranching operations have been stopped, but that does not mean they will not reappear. When FARM TEAM puts out a call for action, let your voice be heard.

Below you will find a list of key bills we are watching. Look for the "Take Action" symbol for your opportunity to weigh in on important legislation. Not receiving our calls for action? Visit www.cfbf.com to sign up for FARM TEAM today!

Farm Bureau SUPPORTS this legislation

Assembly Bill 2241 (Eggman, D-Stockton) Solar-Use Easements
AB 2241 protects prime farmland by providing an incentive for counties to implement the solar-use easement provisions of the Williamson Act. This bill provides for a modest increase in the required rescission fees and allows counties to retain half. Farm Bureau is a sponsor of this legislation.

AB 2313 (Nestande, R-Palm Desert) Metal Theft
AB 2313 expands law enforcement's ability to focus on the metal theft epidemic and ensures that existing laws aimed at reducing metal theft are enforced by creating a Metal Theft Task Force Program. Farm Bureau is a sponsor of this legislation.

Senate Bill 1353 (Nielsen, R-Gerber) Williamson Act
SB 1353 repeals the Jan. 1, 2016, sunset on the nine-year and 18-year Williamson Act contracts that require landowners to forgo 10 percent of their property tax relief in a direct payment back to the counties. The 10 percent reduction in program benefits flows exclusively to the counties, letting them recoup 40 percent to 90 percent of their total forgone revenue, and thus allowing them to continue to participate in this voluntary program. Farm Bureau is a sponsor of this legislation.

Water Bond
Farm Bureau favors a water bond that includes long-term solutions to our state's water challenges including $3 billion of continuously appropriated funds for increased water storage, protections for area-of-origin water rights holders, significant funding for disadvantaged communities to address drinking water solutions and funding for local entities to assist with groundwater management.

Farm Bureau OPPOSES this legislation

AB 1522 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) Paid Sick Days
AB 1522 requires employers to provide any employee who has worked in California for 30 days with paid sick days for the employee's own illness or that of a family member.

AB 1634 (Skinner, D-Berkeley) Cal/OSHA Violations
AB 1634 denies employers the right to due process by requiring them to immediately abate conditions that Cal/OSHA alleges are a serious, repeat-serious or willfully serious violation of occupational safety and health regulations before the employer can appeal the agency's citation. It also undermines a new appeal process installed last year by the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board to ensure quick abatement of such citations.

AB 1739 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) 
SB 1168 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) Groundwater Management
AB 1739 and SB 1168 rush to solve groundwater-management issues for basins in overdraft during the crisis of the current drought. Appropriate protection of groundwater resources for future generations must be carefully thought out, not hurried through a legislative process to meet arbitrary deadlines.

AB 1897 (Hernandez, D-West Covina) Labor Contracting: Client Liability
AB 1897 holds an innocent farmer or rancher responsible for the employment obligations of an employer with whom the farmer or rancher contracts for labor or services, duplicating laws the Legislature recently enacted to address and prevent the abuse of contracted labor.

AB 2416 (Stone, D-Monterey Bay) Liens: Laborers and Employees
AB 2416 allows any employee, governmental agency or anyone "authorized by the employee to act on the employee's behalf" to record liens on an employer's real property or any property where an employee "performed work" for an alleged, yet unproven, wage claim.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.