June 10, 2010
Almond Board
California Legislative Report: Update on Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

State Legislative Items

June 4, 2010 marked the deadline for California legislative items to be passed out of their house of origin.  Here are some items of interest to the California almond industry.

  • Pesticide reporting - - AB 1963 by Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) would require laboratories that test for pesticide poisoning to report their data to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Currently, labs only report test results to patients' physicians, not to any state agency.  The bill would allow health officials  to more accurately track pesticide exposure and implement safety precautions, said Assemblyman Nava. This bill was approved by the Assembly on June 1, 2010 on a 50-27 vote and sent to the Senate for consideration.  It is set for a June 28, 2010 hearing before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

  • CA Apiary Commission - - AB 1912 by Assemblywoman Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) would create the California Apiary Research Commission . The apiary commission would consist of six producers and one public member. It would be funded by an industry assessment of up to $1 per bee colony.  The bill passed the Assembly on a 61-15 vote on June 1, 2010. The bill was approved by the Senate Food and Ag Committee on a 4-1 vote on June 15, 2010 and referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee where it will be heard on June 28, 2010.

  • Overtime wages for ag workers  - - SB 1121 by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter)
    Existing law exempts ag employees from overtime pay requirements.  This bill removes that exemption.  SB 1121 was approved by the Senate 23-12 on June 3, 2010 and sent to the Assembly.

  • Card check - - SB 1474 by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has been reintroduced.  Similar legislation was vetoed last session by Gov. Schwarzenegger. The bill would permit farm workers to form a union by submitting a petition to the Agriculture Labor Relations Board accompanied by representation cards signed by a majority of the bargaining unit. The legislation is sponsored by the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). The bill was approved by the Senate on June 2, 2010 on a 22-11 vote and was sent to the Assembly for consideration.

  • Licensing fees for ag processors  - - AB 2240  by the  Assembly Committee on Agriculture authorizes CDFA to reevaluate the annual licensing fee structure for processors of farm products.  Current fee structure for the annual license is based on operating costs in 1998-99 and 1999-00. This bill authorizes CDFA to re-examine this fee structure based on operating costs (removing the years previously specified in the bill).  The bill was approved  on May 6, 2010 by a vote of 58 to 11 in the Assembly. The measure is now in the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture.

  • Williamson Act  - - AB 1965  by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada  (D-Davis)  appropriates funds from the General Fund to each county in the state for open-space lands pursuant to the Williamson Act.  This bill is crucial to restore subvention payments. This bill was approved by the Assembly on a 76-0 vote on May 13, 2010. It is set for a June 16, 2010 hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee.

  • ESA exemption - - SB 1303 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) would extend indefinitely a provision under the California Endangered Species Act that exempts farmers from penalties if their normal agricultural activities kill protected species. The rule is set to expire Jan. 1, 2011.  The bill was approved 9-0 on April 13, 2010 by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. On May 10, 2010, the Senate gave its approval by a margin of 30-0. The bill was approved by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee 11-0 on June 15, 2010

  • California Grown - - AB 1960 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) would require state agencies to purchase California-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables when the quality is comparable and the price matches produce grown elsewhere. State agencies are "encouraged to purchase fruits, nuts, and vegetables that are produced, or produced and processed, in California before those that are produced outside of the state."  AB 1960 does not make a distinction between other U.S. states and other countries for products for the purpose of imports. This bill was approved by the Assembly 76-0 on June 3, 2010 and is now awaiting consideration in the Senate.

  • UC Ag Program Extensions - - AB 1891 by the Assembly Committee on Higher Education would re-establish two University of California programs whose legislative backing expired on Jan. 1. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program develops alternative farming practices through grants and educational efforts. The other program supports projects that educate and train farmers on biologically integrated farming systems.  This bill was approved 8-0 by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on April 7, 2010 and  approved 15-0 by the  Assembly Appropriations Committee on April 28, 2010. The bill was approved 6-0 by the Senate Education Committee on June 16, 2010 and sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Inactive Bills

  • Water Transfers - - AB 2049 by Assemblyman Juan Arambula (D-Fresno), would prohibit water transfers of greater than a 10-year duration from agricultural to urban use. The bill was approved on a 8-4 vote on April 13, 2010  by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and referred to the Appropriations Committee.  The measure was defeated  twice in the Assembly, falling short of the required 41 votes for passage. On June 2, 2010 it failed to garner enough votes for passage, gathering 38 votes in support and 31 opposed.  The next day, it failed again on a 35-33 vote.

  • Ag Greenhouse Gas Emissions - - SB 1241 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) would require the Department of Food and Agriculture to appropriate funds to help the agriculture sector reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions.  This bill was approved by the Senate Ag Committee 3-1 on April 6, 2010 and approved 4-2 by the Environmental Quality Committee on April 19, 2010.  It is being held in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  •  Development of economic impact analysis for certain agency regulations  - - AB 1833 by Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Chico) requires CalEPA, Occupational Safety & Health, and the State Air Resources Board to develop an economic impact analysis when proposing, amending or repealing a regulation.  The goal is to shine a light on the regulatory costs imposed by these agencies on ag and other businesses.  This bill is pending consideration in the Natural Resources Committee and the Business and Professions Committee. The bill was defeated in the Business and Professions committee by a 4-7 vote on April 6, 2010 and was granted reconsideration.

  • Pesticide buffer zones - - AB 1721 by Assemblyman Sandre Swanson (D-Oakland)  would  restrict pesticides used within a ½ mile of school safety zones within 24 hours of when children are present.  AB 1721 inhibits the ability to use crop protection tools and jeopardizes the safety and quantity of locally grown products.  AB 1721 was withdrawn from consideration after bipartisan opposition from committee members at its April 14, 2010 hearing before the Assembly Ag Committee.

  • Diesel Emission Controls - - SB 1238 by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) would require the state's Air Resources Board to consult with businesses, in addition to local districts and the general public, when it reviews diesel emission-control rules every three years. This bill is in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

  • Renewable energy projects on farmland - - SB 1153 by Sen. Loni Hancock ( D-Oakland,) would bind the legislature, through future legislation, to streamlining permitting processes and offering incentives for renewable-energy projects on agricultural land. This bill was approved 8-2 on April 20, 2010 by the  Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee where it is being held.

June 8, 2010 State Primary Results

  • California primary election results are available on the Secretary of State's website at http://vote.sos.ca.gov/

  • Denham on way to 19th House race victory - - State Sen. Jeff Denham  won the Republican nomination in the 19th Congressional District. With all of of the precincts reporting, Denham had 36.3% of the vote and former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson was at 30.8%.  Former Tracy congressman Richard Pombo was third . Long-time Representative George Radanovich (R-Mariposa)  is retiring from the seat.

  • Former CDFA Secretary Lyons captures Stanislaus County Supervisor seat - - Former CDFA Secretary Bill Lyons Jr. captured a seta on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Tuesday in a race that was much tighter than political pundits had predicted. Lyons captured 51% of the vote to defeat Terry Withrow for the District 3 seat. Lyon’s margin of victory was just 196 votes. As of press time, Withrow had not indicated if he would seek a recount.
     

  • Maldonado wins GOP nomination for lieutenant governor - - Santa Maria farmer Abel Maldonado, former chair of the Senate Ag Committee,  has won the Republican race for lieutenant governor, beating Sen. Sam Aanestad. The incumbent by virtue of appointment by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maldonado jumped to an early lead and never relinquished it. He had 46 percent of the votes. Aanestad garnered 29 percent.
     

  • Florez beats Parra in the 30th - - - - In the battle for the 30th Assembly District,  Democrat  Fran Florez beat Pete Parra. She led Pete Parra in the Democratic primary with 56.6 percent of the vote.
     

  • Costa, Vidak headed to 20th District congressional wins - - Incumbent  Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) will face challenger Andy Vidak in November's 20th Congressional District final. With all  precincts reporting, Costa, D-Fresno, had 77.8 percent of the vote compared to water consultant/rancher Steve Haze's 22.2 percent in Tuesday night's Democratic primary. Vidak, a 44-year-old Hanford cherry farmer, had 71.4 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. 

  • U.S. Senate ag committee chair Lincoln wins narrow primary victory -- Sen. Blanche Lincoln won the runoff for Arkansas' Democratic Senate nomination.. Lincoln, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, on Tuesday narrowly defeated Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

Bees

  • USDA Begins National Survey of Honey Bee Pests and Diseases - - The  USDA has announced the beginning of a 13-state survey of honey bee pests and diseases conducted cooperatively by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Pennsylvania State University (PSU). The survey will help USDA scientists to determine the prevalence of parasites and disease-causing microorganisms that may be contributing to the decline of honey bee colonies nationwide.

Water Availability

  • State Water Project increases allocations to 45%  - - The California Department of Water Resources announced May 21, 2010 it is increasing its final 2010 State Water Project allocation to 45 percent of requested amounts, thanks to late season storms. The 45 percent allocation, although an increase from the 5 percent originally estimated for this year, will still leave many communities, farms and businesses with limited alternative supplies, DWR predicts.

  • Fresno judge lifts delta pumping restrictions - - A federal judge in Fresno on May 26, 2010 temporarily lifted Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumping restrictions designed to help endangered salmon, siding with urban and agricultural water users who said the move would not harm the fish.  The order by U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger will be in place until June 15. For west-side agriculture -- including farmers and ranchers in the Westlands Water District -- that could mean an extra 200,000 acre-feet of water, said Tom Birmingham, Westlands' general manager. In real-world terms, he added, it will mean an additional 75,000 acres of farmland could be put back into production -- and with it more people put to work.

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