October 7, 2008
Almond Board
California Legislative Report: Update on State Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

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Water
  • Three studies driving the discussion of how to meet California’s water needs
    Three studies released over the past several months have put plenty of ideas on the table as California leaders try to come to grips with the state’s thorniest issue: How to provide a safe and reliable water supply and meet environmental, farming and drinking water demands. For a closer look at these studies, please click on the links below:

  • Delta Vision Strategic Plan - - Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel

  • Public Policy Institute Report - - Calls Peripheral Canal "promising"

  • Pacific Institute Study - - Water can be saved if ag grows different crops
     

  • Environmentalists ask judge to cancel dozens of long-term water contracts
    Central Valley Project water users are facing another threat to their water supplies as environmentalists have asked a federal judge to cancel or renegotiate 42 long-term water contracts because they allege they were drawn up using flawed data regarding the delta smelt. U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger heard arguments in his courtroom Friday, Sept. 12,  on the request by several environmental groups that  the contracts should be rewritten because they were based on flawed environmental data regarding the effects of water pumping on a threatened fish that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In December Wanger ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare a new environmental assessment by 2009. Until then, environmentalists argue, the old data should not be used in determining how much water users receive from the federal canals. Data from that opinion was used to write new contracts with 42 different users. Lawyers for environmental groups told the judge they did not want to stop water deliveries. Instead, they want the contracts to be deemed legally invalid and then keep the order from taking effect for one year while interim contracts are negotiated. Judge Wanger did not indicate when he would issue his ruling.

  • CVP carries over 35 percent of capacity into 2009 water year
    The Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project (CVP) is carrying over approximately 3.9 million acre-feet of water, 35 percent of capacity, into Water Year (WY) 2009. This is little more than half the 15-year carry-over average. The Bureau of Reclamation's water year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept, 30. The 15-year carry-over average is 6.7 million acre-feet. Carry-over storage is the combined amount of water remaining at the end of the water year in Shasta, Trinity, Folsom, and New Melones reservoirs and the Federal share of the joint Federal/State San Luis Reservoir.  The total 2008 deliveries for the CVP are estimated at 5.7 million acre-feet. Historically, the CVP supplies annually about 7 million acre-feet of water for agriculture, cities, and the environment.

  • Governor appropriates funding for water projects, levees
    Gov. Schwarzenegger has approved $842 million to boost the water supply and bolster endangered levees. Nearly $900 million will soon flow to water projects all over California under a measure Schwarzenegger signed to distribute some of the water and flood control bonds passed by voters two years ago. In signing SB 1XX, proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), Schwarzenegger said the $845-million appropriation will not solve long-term water supply problems. It does not include money for dam construction.

Transportation

  • SB 974  (Lowenthal) Port Container Fees
    A bill that would have charged shippers $60 a container in the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland has been vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. The bill generated considerable controversy when the Schwarzenegger Administration proposed changes that would have funneled part of the money to the California Air Resources Board, which could use it in areas such as the Central Valley. Those changes were eventually dropped. In his veto message, the governor said the bill was not "cost effective" and "does not adequately provide the San Joaquin Valley with access to funds to reduce pollution."

Labor

  • Governor vetoes card check bill
    Gov. Schwarzenegger has vetoed proposed "card check" legislation, citing concern that AB 2386 (Nunez) would “weaken workers’ existing privacy rights and protections” under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA.) The bill would have given workers the option of bypassing secret-ballot elections in voting booths. Instead, they could take ballots home and would have five days to mail or deliver them to the Agriculture Labor Relations Board. The veto is considered an important victory for a broad coalition of ag groups that waged a hard fight encouraging the Governor to veto the bill.
  • Governor vetoes extra aid for farmworkers in drought areas
    A bill that
    sought to give more cash assistance to Valley farmworkers hurt by the drought, has been vetoed by Gov.  Schwarzenegger . AB 1107 ( Arambula) targeted laborers who are working part time instead of full time because of water shortages. The aim was to give these "partially unemployed" farmworkers more money from the state's unemployment insurance fund. In his veto message, the governor said: "California is currently experiencing a high unemployment rate that is already stressing the fund and any increase in unemployment benefits further contributes to fund inadequacies."

Global Warming

  • Governor rejects climate-change institute at UC 
    Gov. Schwarzenegger has rejected an unprecedented attempt to create the first-of-its-kind research institute into reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The proposal, authored by Senate Leader Don Perata, a Democrat, would have created the California Climate Change Institute at the University of California. The institute would have been financed, in part, with roughly a $1.20-a-year levy on millions of private and public utility customers. The institute would have had an annual budget in the neighborhood of  $50 million and financed research into the causes and solutions of global warming.

Right to Farm

  • Bill requires new rural home buyers to be told about right-to-farm law
    Legislation requiring that developers or the expert who develops a natural hazard report for a rural property inform a potential buyer about California's right-to-farm law whenever the property changes hands has been signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. The bill’s author Assembly member Lois Wolk (D-Davis) says the goal is to prevent complaints and nuisance lawsuits by "come-heres" who want the rural life - without being exposed to the messy side of agriculture.

Aerial Applications

  • Aerial pesticide applications bills signed  - - Gov. Schwarzenegger has signed two bills that stem from the controversial issue of aerial spraying in urban areas to battle invasive pests. He signed Invasive Pests, AB 2763 (Laird. It requires the CDFA or a county ag commissioner prior to aerial application of a pesticide under an eradication project in an urban area to hold at least one public forum, and have DPR and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to jointly seek a human and environmental health risk evaluation. It also states legislative intent directing ag commissioners to take an increasing role in urban invasive pests, and list all ingredients in formulating the pesticide used in the eradication project. The other bill, Aerial Application, AB 2765 (Huffman) requires the CDFA secretary or the county ag commissioner, before the aerial application of a pesticide, to conduct at least one public hearing to consider all alternatives to aerial application of a pesticide and to seek an evaluation of human health risks and environmental risks jointly prepared by DPR and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, including findings and recommendations regarding environmental and human risks of the proposed use of a pesticide by aerial application.