Capitol Alert


Issue Date: August 20, 2014

Your Guide to Legislation that Impacts California Family Farmers and Ranchers 

It was a busy week in the Capitol, as lawmakers negotiated a water bond and faced a deadline to move out of committee bills that have a fiscal impact on the state.

After much debate, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, a $7.5 billion package, will now appear on the November ballot as Proposition 1. Farm Bureau supported passage of this measure and encourages all Californians to invest in our water system by passing Proposition 1.

A number of bills were amended before passing out of the Assembly or Senate Appropriations Committee. Farm Bureau will analyze the amendments to see if our position has changed. With the Aug. 31 deadline just days away, look for updates from FARM TEAM for your opportunity to weigh in.

Farm Bureau SUPPORTS this legislation that would help family farms and ranches:

Assembly Bill 1471 (Rendon, D-Lakewood) Water Bond 
AB 1471 replaces the $11.14 billion water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot with a leaner, $7.545 billion bond that dedicates more than a third of the funds to new storage projects while protecting area-of-origin water rights. AB 1471 passed out of both houses and was signed by Gov. Brown.

AB 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 2241 passed the Senate on a vote of 33-0 and now awaits action by the governor.

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. SB 1353 passed out of the Assembly on a vote of 75-1 and now awaits action by the Governor.

Farm Bureau OPPOSES this legislation that would harm family farms and ranches:

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 1522 awaits action on the Senate floor.

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 1634 awaits action on the Senate floor.

AB 1739 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) and 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 1739 and SB 1168 await action on their respective floors.

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 1897 awaits action on the Senate floor.

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. AB 2416 awaits action on the Senate floor.

SB 25 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) Forced Unionization
SB 25 forces the implementation of an Agricultural Labor Relations Board-imposed contract, even during an appeal.  After nearly a year of being on the Senate's inactive file, SB 25 has been amended and is moving in the final days of session.  SB 25 must still pass the Assembly and Senate.

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