Sept. 10, 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.  Sept. 11 is the last day for each House to pass bills. Oct. 11 is the last day for the Governor to sign or veto legislation.

Active Bills as of Sept. 10, 2009

  • Card Check Bill Vetoed by Governor-  - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 2, 2009 vetoed legislation that would make it easier for farmworkers to join unions, marking the third straight year he has rejected the top priority of the United Farm Workers union. SB 789   by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, (D-Sacramento), would have given workers the option of bypassing secret-ballot elections. Instead, they could sign representation cards. If a majority signed up, the state would certify the new bargaining unit.

  • Ag Burning - - SB 382 by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter)  The measure was approved by the Senate May 14, 2009 on a 23-14 vote and was approved by the Assembly on Sept 2, 2009.  It is now awaiting action by the Governor.  It provides that a permit to burn agricultural waste  within the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control  District (SJVUAPCD) is not valid for any day the district prohibits operation of a wood burning fireplace or heater.

  • 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 Aug. 17, 2009 by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 13-0 margin. As of Sept. 10, 2009, it was still awaiting action  on the Senate floor.  It was approved  June 3 by the Assembly by a 47-32 margin. 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.

  • Food Safety -  -AB 1327 by Assemblyman Feuer. The bill was approved by the Assembly Health Committee by a 13-5 vote on May 5 and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. As of Sept. 10, 2009, the bill was being held in the Appropriations Committee and it seemed unlikely the bill would move before session ends Sept. 11, 2009. The Food Safety Analysis and Control Plan requires food processing establishments to adopt and implement Hazard Analysis& Critical Control Points Plans (HACCP) as prescribed by the Department of Health & Human Services. The HACCP 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.

  • Food Safety - - SB 173  by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) is awaiting acton by the Governor. It was approved  by the Assembly on Sept. 1, 2009 by a vote of 50-27. The Senate then approved the bill by a 26-9 margin on Sept. 4, 200.  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) is headed to the Governor's desk after it was approved by the Senate by a 23-12 margin on Sept. 9, 2009. The bill passed the Assembly by a 60-16 margin on May 28.  The bill would  establish the Transition To Organics Fund to be administered by the CDFA, consisting of money from federal, industry, and citizen sources.

  • 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. A hearing that was set for July 2, 2009 in the Assembly Ag Committee was canceled at the author's request and the bill is pending as of Sept. 10, 2009 and is unlikely to be taken up before the sessionn ends Sept. 11, 2009. 

Inactive Bills for current session

  • 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.

Water

  • Legislators' vote on water bills delayed -- With two days left in the session, Democrats and Republicans still are struggling to reach a deal on legislation to overhaul the state's water system. The latest ominous sign came Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009  when leading Democrats postponed a vote by a special bipartisan committee formed to consider bills to that would increase conservation and groundwater monitoring while creating a new council to oversee the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In a statement, Senate Democrats said the panel would convene today, which would "allow for a floor vote on Friday." Republicans oppose the policies as written and have also complained that the package does not include a water bond to pay for new projects, including dams. To learn more about the bills, please visit the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee website.  

Food Safety- Federal

  • USDA and HHS Unveil New Food Safety Consumer Web Site - - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the co-chairs of the Obama Administration's Food Safety Working Group, unveiled a new consumer Web site Sept. 9, 2009 at www.foodsafety.gov.  The site is designed to help consumers and families get all the latest information on food safety and food recalls in one convenient place. The new site features information from all the agencies across the federal government that deal with critical food and food safety information, including preventive tips about how to handle food safely, alerts on life-saving food recalls, and the latest news from the key agencies.

  • Food facilities now required to report potentially dangerous products - - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a new way to head off potential cases of foodborne illness – the Reportable Food Registry (RFR), where food industry officials must use to alert the FDA quickly, through an electronic portal when they find their products might sicken or kill people or animals. The requirement, a result of legislation, took effect with the launch of the portal.Facilities that manufacture, process or hold food for consumption in the United States now must tell the FDA within 24 hours if they find a reasonable probability that an article of food will cause severe health problems or death to a person or an animal. The reporting requirement applies to all foods and animal feed regulated by the FDA, except infant formula and dietary supplements, which are covered by other regulatory requirements. For more information on the RFR Guidance go to www.fda.gov/ReportableFoodRegistry


 

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