June 9, 2009
Almond Board
California Legislative Report: Update on State Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

State Legislation

Here is the current status of legislation  of interest to the almond industry that has  been introduced in Sacramento.

Active Bills as of July 8, 2009

  • Carbon footprint labeling - - Legislation  that would require the California Air Resources Board to develop a voluntary program for labeling the carbon footprint of products sold in California was approved June 3 b the Assembly by a 47-32 margin and sent to the Senate for consideration.  AB 19 was introduced by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin (D-Los Altos)  Chair of the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee on Natural Resources. As chair he will oversee the implementation of AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The bill’s principal sponsor is Carbon Label California. The bill was first introduced in March 2008.

  • Card Check - SB 789 (Steinberg) Permits agricultural employees to select their labor representatives by submitting a petition to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board accompanied by representation cards signed by a majority of the bargaining unit. The board would be required to conduct an immediate investigation to determine whether to certify the labor organization as the exclusive bargaining representative for the particular agricultural employees. Within 5 days after receiving a petition, the board would be required to make a non-appealable administrative decision. If the board determined that the representation cards meet specified criteria, then the labor organization would be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative. If the board determined that the representation cards were deficient, it would notify the labor organization of the deficiency and grant the labor organization 30 days to submit additional cards. The measure was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee July 1, 2009 on a 10-5 vote and is awaiting action on the Assembly floor.

  • Food Safety -  - AB 1372 by Assemblyman Feuer - The Food Safety Analysis and Control Plan requires food processing establishments to adopt and implement Hazard Analysis& Critical Control Points Plans (HACCPP) as prescribed by the Department of Health & Human Services. The HACCPP will require the implementation of procedures to prevent food and ingredient contamination including monitoring, preventive controls, testing, corrective actions and record keeping. The department will have to be notified within 24 hours when positive test results indicate the presence of poisonous or deleterious substances or other contaminants. Department inspectors will also have complete access to facilities and any vehicles used to transport food and ingredients. The bill was approved by the Assembly Health Committee by a 13-5 vote on May 5 and referred to the Appropriations Committee.

  • Food Safety - - SB 173  by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) was approved by the Senate June 3 on a 26-12 vote and is awaiting consideration in the Assembly. Instead of mandating recalls as originally proposed, the bill has been amended so it only allows state public-health officials to adopt regulations for voluntary recalls.

  • Transition to Organics Act - - AB 1401 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) would...It passed the Senate Food and Agriculture Committee by a 4-1 vote on July 7, 2009 and is now before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • Williamson Act – SB 715 (Wolk) Makes several substantive changes including the authorization for a county board of supervisors to require the county assessor to send an annual survey to verify continuous agricultural income from one or more agricultural uses or agricultural commodities, in the form the board prescribes, to all owners of land under a contract. The owner or owners would be required to return the completed survey to the assessor within 60 days. The bill would define "agricultural income" to mean continuous income derived from either an agricultural use or an agricultural commodity, or both. 

Inactive Bills

  • VOC’s - AB 835 by Monning (D-Monterey) Specifies that any regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board, or adopted by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, or pesticide product registered by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, that reduces an environmental hazard associated with a pesticide product shall not lead to the registration of, or increased use of, any product that’s more toxic. After lengthy testimony, this bill was held in the Assembly Agriculture Committee  after a hearing April 15, 2009.  The bill failed on a 3-1 vote but was granted reconsideration at a later date.

  • Aerial Spraying - SB 759 (Leno) Requires the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to use prescribed information regarding the effects of pesticides, including inert ingredients, to develop educational material for distribution to physicians and surgeons and to the public when pesticides are aerially applied near residential or sensitive areas. On May 28, 2009, the bill was held in committee pending further action.

  • Aerial Spraying - - AB 622, by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, would establish a 3.3-mile "safety zone" between target fields and residential areas or other "sensitive sites," a category that includes schools and hospitals.  The bill was made a two-year bill at the author's request following a April 15 hearing at the Assembly Ag Committee.

Food Safety- Federal

  • Waxman proposes federal food safety legislation - - The nation's complex food supply chain would become more transparent, inspections of food facilities would become more frequent and manufacturers would be required to take steps aimed at preventing food-borne illnesses under legislation proposed May 27, 2009 by key House leaders who have pledged to modernize the food safety system.  The bill, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), would give the Food and Drug Administration broad new enforcement tools, including the authority to recall tainted food, the ability to "quarantine" suspect food, and the power to impose civil penalties and increased criminal sanctions on violators.  Among other things, the proposal would put greater responsibility on growers, manufacturers and food handlers by requiring them to identify contamination risks, document the steps they take to prevent them and provide those records to federal regulators. The legislation also would allow the FDA to require private laboratories used by food manufacturers to report the detection of pathogens in food products directly to the government.

Global Warming

  • Climate change legislation approved by House committee - - The House on May 21, 2009 moved closer to approving a bill that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 and would require states to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources and improved efficiency. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, H. R. 2454, was approved by a vote of 33-25  by the House Energy Committee with all but four Democrats voting for the measure. The legislation would create a cap-and-trade system whereby over the next decade, power plants, oil refineries, and manufacturers would be required to obtain allowances for the pollution they emit. Those who need more or less could turn to a Wall-Street-like market in the allowances. The bill, which aims to remake the way the United States consumes energy, uses vast incentives and slow–growing punishments to shift from high-polluting fossil fuels to new sources, such as wind, solar power, and plant-based fuels. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has promised to bring the legislation to the floor this summer.  

Air Quality

  • Burn fees go up July 1 - - Fees for open burning permits in the San Joaquin Valley will increase effective July 1. The SJV Air Pollution Control District will raise fees for open burning for a single event from $24 to $26. Two-event permits will increase from $42 to $46 and three or more events from $67 to $73. An exemption permit to burn on a no-burn day will increase from $33 to $36. After June 2010, almond growers will no longer be permitted to burn almond prunings in the San Joaquin Valley.

Water

  • Additional state water restrictions announced - - Additional restrictions on the state's water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta were announced June 4, further reducing the amount of water available to people, businesses and farms throughout California. The California Department of Water Resources has initially forecasted that these restrictions will cut approximately 10 percent in statewide water deliveries (300,000 - 500,000 acre-feet) on average, expected to begin in 2010. These cuts are in addition to the heavy restrictions that were imposed in December 2008 to address the decline of another fish species, the Delta smelt. The cutbacks were outlined in a biological opinion for Chinook salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon, issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The biological opinion, or permit, sets guidelines for State Water Project and Central Valley Project (CVP) pumping operations out of the Delta. The new biological opinion increases restrictions on water project operations even though the projects are currently limited to taking no more than two percent (2%) of the listed salmon populations in the Delta. Changing ocean conditions have been recently identified by federal fish agencies and scientists as the primary cause of salmon decline, in addition to significant ocean harvests.

 

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