Tax on Services Bill Gets Amended and a Hearing

May 21, 2018 – -The first hearing was held last week on a bill which would impose a 3% tax on professional services purchased by businesses in exchange for a 2% reduction in the statewide sales and use tax. The bill has already been given the “job-killer” label by the California Chamber of Chamber due to tremendous impact it would have on all businesses in California.  The Almond Alliance testified in opposition stressing the issues of impacts on businesses, how to allocate the tax when a contract includes both goods and services and the cost of compliance.

SB 993 (Hertzberg) was introduced to update California’s tax system to reflect the evolution of economic activities in California and to respond to the recent federal tax reform. California’s economy has shifted from an agricultural and manufacturing based economy to a services-based economy. In 1950 sales and use taxes accounted for 61% of the General Fund revenues and today it only accounts for 20%. Given the fact that the sales and use tax is the state’s second largest revenue source, the legislature has been looking for ways to expand the tax base to account for the lost revenue. This has been a goal of Senator Herztberg’s for some years now. SB 993 is his most recent attempt which has now taken a slightly different approach in response to the federal tax changes. He believes that SB 993 positions California to respond to the federal tax reform by taking advantage of business deductibility and passing savings onto consumers through a lower sales tax rate.

The bill, however, will likely not achieve that goal and will have much broader implications to not only businesses in the State, but for their customers as well. While proponents argue that this service tax would only “target high-end services” – such as lawyers or accountants – these services are a part of doing business, even small businesses. The result of any tax increase means increased costs for customers or businesses paying the difference. While the measure does include some exemptions including utilities, equipment and machinery repair, as well as services necessary in food production, the result will still be higher costs. SB 993 also creates confusion for multi state businesses because the service tax only applies to services received in California. Additionally, all businesses will have increased costs of compliance attempting to understand and implement the tax requirements.

The hearing, which lasted nearly two hours and included robust discussion on all sides of the issue, was the first in a series of hearings intended to hear feedback on the proposed bill.

CDFA Releases Groundwater Recharge Recommendations

May 21, 2018 – -Last November CDFA, in cooperation with other state agencies, hosted a public forum on Managed Groundwater Recharge to Support Sustainable Water Management. Following this event, staff with the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, working with other agency colleagues, developed a list of recommendations based on discussions and insights at the forum. The California State Board of Food and Agriculture has since approved these recommendations and have forwarded them onto the Administration. Recommendations include:

* Provide financial incentives to GSAs that can be passed on to farmers to encourage adoption of groundwater recharge practices.

* Ongoing State Engagement with Growers & GSAs

* New state investment program to fund projects that increase aquifer recharge and better integrate, and co-manage, surface and groundwater systems (e.g., flood and water supply programs and infrastructure) for multiple benefits.

* Research to reduce risk of crop loss on flooded fields, used as part of on-farm recharge projects.

* Research and data development to support Flood-MAR implementation

* Improving hydrology observation and prediction

The full Recommendations and Forum proceedings can be found HERE.

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training June 1

May 21, 2018 – -Join Attorney Stacy Henderson for Sexual Harassment & Abusive Conduct Prevention Training, hosted by the Almond Alliance of California.

Date: Friday, June 1, 2018

Time: 9:00 a.m.— 11:00 a.m.

Location: Solid Networks –Training Room

5686 Pirrone Road Salida, CA  95368

California employers are required to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment and discrimination from occurring in the workplace. As part of that requirement, employers with 50 or more employees must provide Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training for all supervisors every 2 years. In addition, new supervisors must attend the training within 6 months of becoming a supervisor. The training requirements were expanded in 2018 to include prevention of harassment and discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

As California law becomes increasingly more protective of employees, it is imperative that all businesses not only remain in compliance with the mandatory training requirements for supervisors, but also learn how to implement the training for the benefit of all employees. This interactive training session will cover all mandatory training requirements and provide practical guidance for how to make effective changes to your operation to minimize your liability exposure.

RSVP: reception@almondalliance.org or call (209) 300-7140.

Almond Alliance Upcoming Training: June 1 Sexual Harassment & Abusive Conduct Prevention

May 11, 2018 – -Join Attorney Stacy Henderson for Sexual Harassment & Abusive Conduct Prevention Training, hosted by Almond Alliance of California.

California employers are required to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment and discrimination from occurring in the workplace. As part of that requirement, employers with 50 or more employees must provide Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training for all supervisors every two years. In addition, new supervisors must attend the training within six months of becoming a supervisor. The training requirements were expanded in 2018 to include prevention of harassment and discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

As California law becomes increasingly more protective of employees, it is imperative that all businesses not only remain in compliance with the mandatory training requirements for supervisors, but also learn how to implement the training for the benefit of all employees. This interactive training session will cover all mandatory training requirements and provide practical guidance for how to make effective changes to your operation to minimize your liability exposure.

Date: Friday, June 1, 2018

Time: 9:00 a.m.— 11:00 a.m.

Location: Solid Networks –Training Room

5686 Pirrone Road Salida, Ca. 95368

RSVP: reception@almondalliance.org  or call (209) 300-7140

 

 

 

Banning Combustion Engines and Increase in Litigation Bills Miss Deadline

May 11, 2018 – -Two anti-business bills are dead for the time being after they failed to pass through policy committees last week.  AB 1745 (Ting) would have banned the sale of combustion engine vehicles in the state by prohibiting the registration of a new vehicle in the state after 2040 unless it was a zero-emission vehicle. AB 2527 (Muratsuchi) would have exposed small businesses to more class action litigation by banning arbitration agreements, prohibiting class action waivers, and interfering with contractual negotiations, among other things.

Each measure would have been very costly for businesses not only because of the new equipment and increased litigation, but also in regards to the uncertainty these measures would bring to existing and future contracts. Both bills faced intense opposition from the agriculture community and business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce who added the bills to their “job-killer” list.

Governor Releases Revised 2018-2019 State Budget

May 11, 2018 – -Gov. Jerry Brown released his revised state budget proposal that boosts education funding to an all-time high, fills the Rainy Day Fund to the brim, and directs billions of dollars in one-time surplus funding to combat homelessness, improve mental health services and rebuild crumbling infrastructure.

Governor Brown continued to emphasize the importance of saving for our future, and the May Revision maintains the January budget commitment to increase funding to the rainy day account. By the end of the current fiscal year, this fund will have a total balance of $9.4 billion growing to $13.8 billion by the end of 2018-19. Additionally, to further protect against the next economic downturn, the budget proposes to direct an extra $3.2 billion into the state’s traditional budget reserve fund.

Also included in the budget is $96 million of cap and trade funds to implement the Forest Carbon Plan and take other actions to protect California’s forests against the increasing threat of disastrous wildfires. This $96 million comes in addition to $160 million proposed in January’s cap-and-trade expenditure plan to support forest improvements and fire protection.

The Brown administration asserts that California’s agricultural sector offers substantial opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving air quality and maintaining our food economic security. The Administration’s Cap and Trade Expenditure Plan provides $244 million for multiple Climate Smart Agriculture programs. The May Revision builds on the Cap and Trade January proposal with additional one-time investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Significant Adjustments:

  • Agricultural Diesel Engine Replacement and Upgrades—An increase of $30 million General Fund on a one-time basis to the Air Resources Board to replace existing diesel agricultural vehicles and equipment with the cleanest available diesel or advanced technologies. Emissions from agricultural equipment are a significant source of air pollution, especially in the San Joaquin Valley, and reducing these emissions is critical for meeting federal ozone and particulate matter air quality standards.
  • Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program—An increase of $30 million General Fund on a one-time basis for the Energy Commission to fund innovative projects that reduce energy costs, increase efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the food processing sector. Funded technologies will accelerate the adoption of advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and help contribute to meeting the state’s energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

 

 

Record-Breaking Almond Crop Predicted for 2018

May 11, 2018 – -In spite of concerns about freezing weather during almond bloom, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is predicting a record crop in 2018.

According to the NASS 2018 Almond Subjective Forecast issued Thursday, California almond orchards are expected to produce 2.30 billion pounds of nuts this year, up 1.3% from last year’s 2.27 billion-pound crop.

“Almond farmers used a variety of techniques to manage freezing nighttime temperatures in some parts of the Central Valley during bloom this year and those efforts appear to have worked,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO, Almond Board of California. “Every year weather impacts farming, but almond trees thrive in our state because California is home to the world’s most efficient almond farmers, who continually improve their practices and rise to the challenge.”

The Almond Subjective Forecast, the first of two California almond forecast reports for this year’s crop, is based on opinions obtained from randomly selected almond farmers located throughout the state via a phone survey conducted in April and May. Farmers were asked to indicate their almond yield per acre from last year and expected yield for the current year based on field observations. Those estimates are then combined and extrapolated to arrive at the numbers reported in the Almond Subjective Forecast.

While the Almond Subjective Forecast provides early estimates of the coming crop after it is set, the 2018 California Almond Objective Report, which is released in July, uses a more statistically rigorous methodology. It is typically the more accurate of the two reports. Objective Report data is based on actual almond counts and measurements taken in orchards throughout the state, starting in May and ending in July.

The Objective Report will be released July 5, 2018, at noon PDT. Both the report and the forecast are conducted by the USDA and funded by the Almond Board of California to provide almond farmers, processors and shippers with estimates to help them make business decisions.

Last month, the 2017 California Almond Acreage Report showed bearing acres – – orchards old enough to produce a crop – – were up 6% at 1 million acres. Total almond acres for 2017 were estimated at 1.33 million acres, up 7% from the previous year.