Jan. 26, 2018 – -As the end of January nears, the Legislature is set to hit its first deadline of 2018 as all bills that were introduced last year must be passed out of the house of origin by January 31. The last two weeks have provided a host of activity on several bills key to the Almond Alliance:

Labor 

AB 5 (Gonzalez-Fletcher) this measure would require an employer to offer additional hours of work to an existing part time employee who has the same skills and experience to perform the work before hiring any additional employees or subcontractors. An employer shall use a transparent and nondiscriminatory process to distribute the additional hours of work among existing employees.  This measure was expected to be brought up but was held on the Assembly Appropriations Suspense file and is essentially dead for the year.

AB 281 (Salas) is an attempt to address PAGA labor law suits. The bill extends the “right to cure” period from 33 to 65 calendar days essentially granting employers more time fix certain violations of the labor code. AB 281 was scheduled for consideration by the Assembly Labor & Employment Committee on January 11, but was pulled from consideration by the author due to insufficient support for the bill on the committee. The association supports the measure.

Pesticides

AB 1419 (Quirk) would expand the authority for the Director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation to pursue enforcement cases directly.  The bill would also increase their fine authority from $5,000 to $25,000, per violation. A more limited authority was previously in statute but expired and DPR says they want to reestablish the law especially in cases where a grower might operate in several counties or there is a serious human or environmental health impact. This week a coalition of agricultural associations met with Assemblyman Quirk and expressed grave concerns about the expanded authority and significant penalty increase.  Agriculture coalitions are working on amendments that would provide narrowly tailored authority but reduce the amount of fines.