Dec. 7, 2012
Almond Board
Almond Board of California Legislative Report: Update on Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

California Legislature

  • Democrats obtain supermajority status in Legislature - - As the November 2012 general election results are certified, the Democrats now control 29 of the 40 state Senate seats, while in the Assembly they control 54 of 80 seats. This gives the Democrats a supermajority, marking the first time since 1883 that the party has wielded such power in the Legislature. That status enables the party to pass tax increases and certain other measures without GOP votes.

  • Stockton Assemblywoman will chair Assembly Ag Committee - - New leadership assignments were announced by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez on Dec. 3, 2012. The Assembly Agriculture Committee will be chaired by freshman Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton.) Other committee assignments of interest to the farm community: Select Committee on Agriculture and the Environment: Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael); Select Committee on Regional Approaches to Addressing the State's Water Crisis: Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield); Joint Legislative Audit: Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced); Water, Parks and Wildlife: Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Select Committee on Agriculture and the Environment: Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael.)

  • Ag heat bill author loses race  - -  Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles), who authored the controversial ag heat legislation that was eventually vetoed by Gov. Brown, has been beaten in her re-election bid. The race in the newly configured 50th Assembly District was between two Democrats. Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom held a 1,246 -vote lead over Butler as the final ballots were counted in the 50th Assembly District. Butler’s Assembly Bill 2346 would have created impractical new standards for protecting farm workers from heat-related illness.

Congress

  • John Garamendi named to House Agriculture Committee - - Central Valley Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield) has been named to the House Agriculture Committee. With the resignation of Dennis Cardoza and the defeat of Joe Baca, Rep. Garamendi and Rep. Costa are the only California members assigned to the Agriculture Committee for the new session at this time. The rancher and farmer will take his seat on the powerful committee as talks continue on renewing the Farm Bill. While the Senate passed its version of the $497 billion bill months ago, it has been stalled in the House. “I didn’t enter Congress to twiddle my thumbs and sit quietly in the background. I must be where the needs of my district are and that’s in the final negotiations for the five-year farm bill,” says Mr. Garamendi. “As a farmer and rancher, I know we need to get this done, and I will work around the clock to make sure California specialty crops and commodity programs are protected.”

  • California Congressional delegation dominated by Democrats - - Democrats will hold 38 of California's 53 congressional seats, with Republicans holding the other 15. All in all, 39 incumbents will return to the 113th Congress. The state's delegation will include 14 members -- 11 Democrats and three Republicans -- who are new to Washington. Among them are eight current or former state legislators: Republicans Doug LaMalfa, Paul Cook and David Valadao, and Democrats Jared Huffman, Julia Brownley, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Alan Lowenthal and Juan Vargas.  In addition to Bera and Peters, the other newcomers include Democrats Eric Swalwell, Tony Cardenas, Mark Takano and Raul Ruiz. Bera and Peters weren't the only Democrats who bested incumbents running for re-election. Ruiz edged out GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, Swalwell beat fellow Democrat Pete Stark, and Negrete McLeod bested fellow Democrat Joe Baca. There were the incumbent vs. incumbent races, both of which pitted two Democrats against each other down in the south state, where Janice Hahn beat Laura Richardson, and Brad Sherman won over Howard Berman.

  • Lucas selected to serve a second term as House Ag Committee Chairman  - - Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma issued the following statement after the House Republican Conference re-elected him to serve a second term as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee for the 113th Congress: “It is an honor to serve in this leadership position and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working on behalf of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural constituents. I am proud of the work the Committee has completed over the past two years. We have provided valuable oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that our agricultural producers are not burdened with unreasonable and costly regulations.”

Air Quality

  • Air board issues reminder on diesel truck exhaust emission rules  - -The state Air Resources Board has issued a reminder that new regulations governing the emission of diesel exhaust from 2000 to 2004 model year trucks over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating go into effect Jan. 1, 2013. ARB is sending reminder letters to those who own one or more diesel powered trucks or buses that fall under the regulation. Penalties start at a minimum of $1,000 per violation per month and increase significantly over time. Last year, similar requirements took effect for 1996-1999 model year engines and nearly $2 million in fines were assessed in the first nine months of 2012. Many owners of agricultural trucks applied for and qualified for an exemption. However, many agricultural truck owners either did not qualify or did not apply for an exemption and they are subject to these requirements. The ARB notes that it may take a month or longer to have a verified soot filter installed if one is needed. More information on how to comply with the truck and bus regulation is available at www.arb.ca.gov/truckstop,  by calling 1-866-6DIESEL and via email at 8666DIESEL@arb.ca.gov.

  • California holds first cap-and trade auction - - California held its first cap-and-trade auction Nov. 14 as part of the state's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. More than 70 companies submitted bids for more than three times the 23 million credits available for 2013. For the first time, the state has a market price on carbon of $10.09 per metric ton.  The new cap-and-trade system brought heavy bidding but a low final price. In fact, the price was just 9 cents above the minimum bid set by the state, which allows the holder to release one ton of carbon dioxide and other gases.  

     

     

Water

  • State Water Project allocates 30 percent - - California residents and farmers can expect less than a third of the water they requested for next year, but state officials hope that amount will increase. The state Department of Water Resources said Nov. 29, 2012 that State Water Project contractors can expect to get 30 percent of their requested deliveries for 2013. The contractors supply water to more than 25 million residents and nearly a million acres of farmland. The initial allocation is usually low because the state receives more than 90 percent of its snow and rain from December through April. The allocation will increase as more storms arrive. The final allocation this year was 65 percent of requested deliveries.

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