July 17, 2018 – -On July 6 California legislators headed back to their districts for recess until August 6.  Prior to leaving the legislature addressed several key issues.  Below is a synopsis of some bills and issues addressed.

Initiatives on the November Ballot – June 28 was the deadline to remove initiatives from the November ballot.  Three initiatives qualified for removal – two because there were legislative deals and one on the promise of further legislative review.

* Privacy – the proponents of a consumer privacy initiative removed their initiative when legislation passed.

* Two Thirds vote for local taxes – The Business Roundtable sponsored legislation that would have created a 2/3 vote threshold for all local taxes.  The initiative was being funded by the American Beverage Association.  The initiative was removed when legislation creating a 12 year moratorium on local “grocery” taxes was passed by the legislature.

* Lead Paint Bond – The paint industry placed a $2 billion bond on the November ballot in an attempt to cost shift some of the expenses of complying with lead paint removal that was thrust upon them in a recent court case.  A deal never came together but the initiative was pulled with a vague promise from legislative leadership that they would continue negotiations.

Key legislation important to agriculture that was amended and/or heard over the past week includes:

AB 1165 (Caballero) would establish the Agricultural Growth Council (Council) under the Food and Agricultural Code, consisting of the Secretaries of Food and Agriculture, Natural Resources Agency, Environmental Protection; and the Directors of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board, Pesticide Regulation, and the Chair of the Air Resources Board; and three members of the public. The purpose of the Council is to ease regulatory requirements to aid grower compliance and reduce costs to the agricultural industry. AB 1165 is a resurrection of one portion of AB 2166, the California Farm bill, which was held on suspense in Appropriations.

According to the author the purpose behind the bill is to elevate the pressure on the agriculture industry facing regulations on water, energy, soil, air, labor, transportation, and more. Many of these regulations conflict, leaving business owners and operators in an untenable situation wherein the good faith effort to comply with one regulations puts the owner/operator out of compliance with another. AB 1165 should bring relief to agriculture businesses, and ensures that while good faith compliance must continue, monetary penalties and the cost of defending an enforcement action will be stayed until the regulatory conflict is resolved.

California legislators are attempting to establish a statewide pharmaceutical drug take back program. Under SB 212 (Jackson) all California manufacturers of drugs or sharps would be required to establish and implement a pharmaceutical and sharps waste collection program. Additionally, the bill would require retailers and other convenient entities to collect expired and no longer needed drugs, as well as sharps. The bill also covers veterinary medicine which includes all drugs used to prevent, treat or control disease in animals (livestock & pets) regardless of whether the drug is administered or prescribed by a veterinarian.   The livestock community is requesting amendments to eliminate animal husbandry drugs from the covered list including “drugs that are used for animal medicine, including parasiticide products for animals.”

Last week the following bills moved forward: AB 2610 (Aguiar-Curry) which provides truck drivers, who transport livestock nutrients and byproducts to rural and remote areas, the option to start their meal and rest period on their 6th hour of work is on the Senate floor. SB 668 (McGuire) which would authorize CDFA to increase fines for violations of the Commercial Feed Law and establishes a mechanism for CDFA to carry out administrative hearings on the issue, passed out of the Assembly Agriculture committee. AB 3036 (Cooley) which is in the Senate Appropriations committee, would reclassify byproducts from agriculture and food processing that are used in livestock feed so that it is not considered waste.

Energy Bill Promoting 100% Renewable Passes Committee

California State Senate passed a bill last week that puts the Golden State on the path to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity. Senate Bill 100 (De Leon) would accelerate California’s current mandate to achieve 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources from 2030 up to 2026; it would further establish that California will generate 60 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045.

The agricultural community coordinated with the CalChamber and many energy providers to oppose this aggressive legislation.  Concerns about costs of electricity, reliability and feasibility were anchored in industry testimony.

Proponents identified other states and jurisdictions that have already committed to a 100% renewable requirement.  Hawaii became the first state to commit to a 100 percent renewable electricity goal, to be achieved by 2045. Massachusetts also has a 100 percent renewables bill under consideration in the state legislature. San Diego became the largest U.S. city to commit to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.