Feb. 9, 2018 – -Friday, February 16th, is the bill introduction deadline for the California legislature.  As it edges closer, the number and frequency of bills being introduced increases.  Next week we should see several hundred more bills rolling in each day.  A few bills addressing agricultural issues were introduced this past week.

There were two noteworthy bills introduced on taxation.  Assembly Member Rudy Salas introduced, AB 2008, that would ensure that Farmers and Ranchers are not taxed on money they receive through the Carl Moyer engine replacement program. The Carl Moyer engine replacement program has become a popular ag incentive program providing clean engines for trucks and tractors, while providing clean air improvements.  This bill is focused on clarifying those incentives are not taxable income.  SB 993, introduced by Senator Hertzberg is another attempt to shift to a tax on services. The measure expands the Sales and Use Tax Law to impose a tax on the purchase of services by businesses in California. The bill exempts certain types of services, including health care services, from the tax and would exempt from the tax a business with gross receipts of less than $100,000 in the previous 4 quarters. IN a twist over his previous legislation, the Senator directs the funds to be appropriated to provide tax relief to middle-income and low-income Californians and to assist in securing greater stability for California’s infrastructure, its workforce, and its education services, including higher education.

AB 2006 (Eggman) would direct an unspecified amount of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction fund (the money generated though the cap and trade program) to deploy zero emission or near zero emission vehicles for Agricultural Vanpools that serve disadvantaged and low-income communities. The money could be used to fund purchases, lease-purchases, replacement, or maintenance of near-zero and zero-emission vehicles in addition to purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging stations and near-zero or zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.

Assemblymember Bill Quirk (Hayward) has introduced AB 2120, a bill to analyze the benefits of prescribed burns.   Responsible management of California’s wildlands and forests are critical to meeting the state’s environmental goals. Forests are the largest carbon sink in the state and are crucial in maintaining state water supplies in the Sierra Nevada. When forests burn, not only are those roles jeopardized, but harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases are released into the air and water quality is diminished.

Prescribed burns are one of the most effective tools in preventing outbreaks of devastating fires. Prescribed burns clear out undergrowth and thin overly dense forests, making them more resilient. Some studies have shown that prescribed burns emit fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants than wildfires.