"No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session." - Gideon John Tucker, 1866
Farmers and ranchers can rest a little easier after this week – the 2022 California Legislative Session has ended. While the extension of Diablo Canyon dominated the news, dozens of bills of interest to SLO County farmers and ranchers made it across the finish line Wednesday night.
SLO County Farm Bureau would like to thank Senator John Laird and Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham for representing us in Sacramento and working with Farm Bureau staff on a number of bills this session. Also, a big "thank you" to our California Farm Bureau Government Affairs Division who will continue to engage with the Governor’s office in coming weeks to support or oppose vetoes. Governor Newsom has until the end of September to sign or veto bills passed by the legislature.
BILLS AWAITING GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S SIGNATURE OR VETO
AB-364 (Freddie Rodriguez, D-Inland Empire) requires farm labor contractors who recruit H-2A workers in Mexico to also register with the Labor Commissioner as foreign labor recruiters, despite the overlapping requirements for doing so with requirements farm labor contractors must already meet to receive their state license. Proponents claim leaving farm labor contractors out of the foreign recruitment licensing requirement was an oversight when legislation creating the foreign labor recruiting program passed in 2014 (SB 477, Steinberg). This is untrue; Farm Bureau was involved in the drafting of that bill and that omission was discussed and agreed to at the time of SB 477’s consideration. Farm Bureau remains opposed to AB 364.
AB-558 (Adrin Nazarian, D-San Fernando) would authorize a school to offer a snack to a “non-school aged child” through a sibling at that school. Farm Bureau has moved to support the bill.
AB-719 (Agriculture Committee) would increase the number of beekeepers on the State Apiary Board from 5 to 7 and add an Agricultural Commissioner and member representing crops that need pollination services as subject matter experts. It would make many other changes to the Apiary Law including changing definitions, requiring bee brokers to comply with the law, seizure transport, and disposal of contaminated hives.
AB-778 (Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella) will require 60% of the state’s agricultural food products purchased by the state be grown or produced in California by December 31, 2025. Farm Bureau is in support of this bill.
AB-857 (Ash Kalra, D-San Jose) was recently amended to address opponents’ concerns that the notice it requires California H-2A employers to provide to employees mis-stated the law concerning compensability of travel time (it indicated all travel time on employer-provided transportation is compensable, when in fact time travel time on employer-provided transportation is compensable only if the employer requires employee its use) and employer-provided housing (it erroneously indicated that employees occupying employer-provided housing are considered tenants under California law; in fact, such employees occupy employer-provided housing under license from the employer, not as a tenant). Farm Bureau remains opposed because the mandatory notice required by AB 857 is redundant.
AB-1164 (Heath Flora, R-Ripon), passed out of the Assembly 76-1 this week on concurrence with Senate amendments and is now on its way to the Governor for his signature. As previously reported, AB 1164 would enable irrigation districts to construct and maintain regulating reservoirs to store and efficiently convey irrigation water in the same manner as private agricultural entities. The measure is sponsored by the Modesto Irrigation District and limits the height of any structure to 15 feet, and a storage capacity of no more than 1,500 acre-feet. Farm Bureau is in support.
AB-1279 (Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance) will establish a goal to achieve an 85% reduction of greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2045.
AB-1646, This bill, authored by Assemblyman Chen, would “authorize cannabis beverages to be packaged in containers of any material that are clear or any color.”
AB-1706, Assemblymember Bonta’s legislation is meant to enhance justice reform provisions of the state’s marijuana law by mandating the courts to process record sealing and other forms of relief for people with eligible cannabis convictions on their records in a specific timeframe. Courts would have until March 1, 2023 to seal records for qualifying cases that weren’t challenged by July 1, 2020
AB-1749 (Cristina Garcia D-Bell Gardens) would require the Air Resources Board to update its statewide strategy (also known as the Blueprint) which governs AB 617 communities to updates measures to reduce criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants. The bill would also give communities selected to come up with emission reduction plans through AB 617 to extend their timelines by a year, if agreed upon with the local air district. Finally, the bill would require local air districts issuing permits for stationary sources of criteria air pollutants to list those permits online.
AB-1757 (Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens) will require the Natural Resources Agency to develop 2030, 2038 and 2045 climate goals for natural and working lands.
AB-1870 (Mark Stone, D-Santa Cruz) would require the California Department of Public Health to create a process for resolving complaints of organic processing within 90 days and require the California Organic Products Advisory Committee to report how fees are collected to administer the program.
AB-1885, The bill from Assemblymember Kalra would prohibit regulators from penalizing licensed veterinarians who recommend medical cannabis for animals and revise state law to include definitions for marijuana products intended for animal consumption. The Veterinary Medical Board would also be required to create guidelines for veterinarian cannabis recommendations. Assemblymember Luz Rivas’s bill would add advertising and labeling requirements for cannabis vaporizer products, stipulating that they should be properly disposed and would constitute hazard waste if thrown away improperly.
AB-1954, From Assemblymember Quirk, the legislation would make it so doctors could not discriminate against patients by denying medication or treatment based on a positive THC test if the person is a registered medical cannabis patient in the state. It further stipulates that medical professionals couldn’t be penalized for administering treatment to a patient who uses medical marijuana in compliance with state law.
AB-1959 (Agriculture Committee) would remove the sunset extension the use of carbon monoxide rodent control measures. It would also authorize the Department of Pesticide Regulation to approve continuing education courses that expressly include integrated pest management teachings. The bill also strengthens the confidentiality requires for the Department of Food and Agriculture’s produce safety sampling program.
AB-2146 (Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-San Ramon) would prohibit the use of neonicotinoids in non-agricultural settings with certain exemptions. Under the exemptions, applications would need to be predated by a declaration of an environmental emergency by the Department of Pesticide Regulation and a determination that softer alternatives chemistries are not available. Another exemption would be in place for certified applicators conducting business in residential settings. Farm Bureau is opposed to this measure based on the precedent it would set in regulating agricultural and non-agricultural chemicals separately and not based on scientific findings.
AB-2183 (Mark Stone, D-Santa Cruz), United Farm Workers-supported card check legislation was substantially amended on August 22 to create a bifurcated system to determine union representation of farm employees, presenting employers a no-win choice: either forfeit their free-speech rights to discuss the pitfalls of unionization and forfeit private property rights upheld in the Cedar Point U.S. Supreme Court decision by allowing union access to their property to ensure their employees have an opportunity to vote (albeit through a flawed mail-in balloting process) on the question of representation; otherwise the question of unionization would be decided by a simple card-check scheme in which many employees would never be asked their preference on union representation. Governor Newsom indicated on August 25 that he could not support AB 2183 in amended form because it lacked sufficient protections for election integrity and assumed state agencies were incapable of enforcing existing law. The Senate passed the August 22- amended version of AB 2183 on August 29; the Assembly concurred in the Senate’s amendments later the same day, and the bill awaits action by Governor Newsom.
AB-2278 (Ash Kalra, D-San Jose) will require the California Natural Resources Agency to submit an annual report to the Legislature on the progress of the state’s 30x30 initiative.
AB-2188 (Bill Quirk, D-Fremont) will ban work-related blood testing for cannabis metabolites but allow saliva testing. This is problematic because of supply chain restrictions in the availability of saliva testing; major testing firms indicate saliva testing is not generally available. Late amendments to AB 2188 did not address concerns about AB 2188 hampering employers’ efforts to provide safe, drug-free workplaces and Farm Bureau remains opposed.
AB-2210, Another bill from Assemblymember Quirk would prohibit state marijuana regulators from “denying an application for a state temporary event license solely on the basis that there is a license issued pursuant to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act for the proposed premises of the event.”
AB-2303 (Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters) would prescribe labeling standards for agave spirits grown in California.
AB-2343 (Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella) was amended late in the legislative process to remove a requirement for Cal/OSHA to submit proposed revisions to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard for consideration of the Cal/OSHA Standards Board that would create new “ultra-high heat” procedures; another direction to propose require use of respirators when the Air Quality Index exceeds 300 but removes any requirement that poor air quality be associated with a wildfire was further narrowed to apply to farm workers only for unknown reasons, meaning that farm workers could be required to use respirators in situations where nearby non-farm workers would not be required to do so. Farm Bureau opposes because of the nonsensical farm worker respirator requirement and because the bill’s proposals to revise Cal/OSHA standards should be directed through the petition process administered by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board.
AB-2568, Authored by Assemblymember Cooley, the bill would “provide it is not a crime solely for individuals and firms to provide insurance and related services to persons licensed to engage in commercial cannabis activity.”
AB-2595, This bill from Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer would make it so that “when a social worker is investigating an alleged case of child abuse or neglect, a parent’s or guardian’s use or possession of cannabis is treated in the same manner as a parent’s or guardian’s use or possession of alcohol and legally prescribed medication.”
AB-2784 (Phil Ting, D-San Francisco) would require thermoforms offered for sale, distributed, or imported in the state to contain 10% in 2025 and 30% in 2030. This bill will apply to clamshells used for agricultural products. Farm Bureau is in opposition.
AB-2925, This measure from Assemblymember Cooper would mandate that the State Department of Health Care Services submit reports to the legislature, starting no later than July 10, 2023, that accounts for cannabis tax revenue that has been distributed to the Youth Education, Prevention, Early Intervention and Treatment Account, as required under the state’s marijuana law.
SB-489 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz) a measure authorizing the state to advance funds for the Pajaro River Flood Risk Management Project passed out of the Assembly and is on the Governor’s desk for his signature. Farm Bureau is in support.
The legislature voted in the early hours of Thursday morning to pass SB 846 (Bill Dodd, D-Napa) which would extend the operation of Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant beyond the current expiration dates (of 2024 for Unit 1 and 2025 for Unit 2), to up to five additional years (no later than 2029 and 2030, respectively). The bill authorizes a $1.4 billion dollar loan to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to facilitate the extension. Farm Bureau was supportive of keeping Diablo Canyon in operation given the 40% shortfall in renewables that were projected to come online by this summer and reliability concerns that are currently being highlighted by the heatwave this week; however, remains concerned about the cost implications to ratepayers and incentives provided to PG&E in the final version of the bill. The bill passed the Assembly 69- 3 and the Senate 31-1. Since the bill originated from Governor Newsom it is expected to be signed. Farm Bureau will remain engaged at the Public Utilities Commission, since there will be implementation steps to be taken there.
In a last-minute amendment, SB-490 (Anna Caballero, D-Salinas) was approved by the Legislature. This bill would enact the Buy American Food Act and require any state institutions buying agricultural products to provide a 25% purchase preference to domestic bids over foreign bids, in compliance with the federal Buy American Act. The bill exempts schools that receive less than a $1 million in federal reimbursement through the National School Lunch Program. Farm Bureau supports this bill and will be requesting a sign.
SB-988, the legislation from Senator Ben Hueso (D-Chula Vista), would amend an existing law that requires certain California medical facilities to accommodate medical cannabis use by registered patients. It would specify that it the responsibility of patients and caregivers to obtain, administer and adequately store cannabis products—and also remove them from the facility after a patient is discharged.
Three other energy related bills Farm Bureau engaged on SB 884 (Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburd) SB 529 (Bob Hertzberg, D-San Fernando) and SB 1020 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz) all passed and are headed to the Governor’s desk for signature. Farm Bureau pushed for amendments in all three bills and were successful in improving some of the language in SB 884 the expedited undergrounding bill and SB 529 the exemption for extension, expansion, upgrade, or other modification of an existing transmission line or substations from the requirement of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity bill, but remain concerned with the cost and participation implications of SB 884 and the lack of specifics and potential impacts to agricultural landowners in SB 529. SB 1020 saw revisions that slightly improved the bill, but the potential ratepayer impacts from accelerating clean energy timelines are yet to be seen. Assuming all three bills receive the Governor’s signature, Farm Bureau will remain engaged to shape the implementation at the Public Utilities Commission.
SB-1046 (Susan Eggman, D-Stockton) would prohibit a store, by January 1, 2025, from providing a pre- checkout bag in the grocery store if t’s not compostable or recycled paper
Senator Melissa Hurtado’s (D-Sanger) bill, SB-1084 , would prohibit foreign governments from purchasing or holding interest in agricultural land in California after January 1, 2023. It would also require the Department of Food and Agriculture to annually report information about agricultural land ownership trends. Farm Bureau will be requesting approval of the bill by the Governor.
SB-1109 , authored by Senator Caballero and supported by Farm Bureau, is headed to the Governor’s desk. The bill extends the BioRAM market for another year, which regulates electrical corporations’ obligation to collectively procure their proportionate share of 125 megawatts of cumulative rated generating capacity from existing bioenergy projects commencing operation before June 1, 2013 (meaning the bill will not incentivize new bioenergy project development, but does support existing facilities).
SB-1137 (Lena Gonzalez, D-Signal Hill) will require 3,200-foot setbacks on new oil and gas wells from sensitive receptors sites like homes, hospitals and daycares and sets in place additional restrictions around pumping.
SB-1162 (Monique Limón, D-Ventura) requires employers of 100 or more employees to submit pay data reports with information about employees’ pay according to race, ethnicity and sex to the Department of Civil Rights (formerly the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) and removes the current law exemption allowing employers submitting EEO-1 reports to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to forgo the DCR report and imposes the reporting requirement of employers who contract with entities who employ 100 or more employees. A late-session amendment removed a provision requiring payroll information will be published on DCR’s website and made available to the public. A provision requiring employers to furnish a pay scale for available jobs in a position announcement and make this information available to existing employees remains. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement would be empowered to investigate possible violations and penalize employers for violations. Farm Bureau continues to oppose due to the bill’s new employer mandates.
SB-1186, the bill from Senator Wiener (D, San Francisco), would “prohibit a local jurisdiction from adopting or enforcing any regulation that prohibits the retail sale by delivery within the local jurisdiction of medicinal cannabis to medicinal cannabis patients or their primary caregivers by medicinal cannabis businesses.”
SB-1326, Senator Caballero’s measure would set the stage to allow for interstate marijuana commerce from California to and from other legal states, contingent on an official assurance that the activity would not put the state at risk of federal enforcement action.
SB-1496, came out of the Committee on Governance and Finance would make a series of changes to the state’s cannabis tax policy, including by authorizing regulators to extend the deadline for tax payments by cannabis businesses located in areas affected by an emergency proclamation by the governor.
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
SB-880 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz) was signed into law by the Governor this week. As previously reported the measure extends indefinitely the January 1, 2023 sunset of existing law authorizing those who divert 100 acre feet of water or more per year to be considered qualified to install and maintain their water diversion measurement devices if they take a course taught by the University of California Cooperative Extension, and pass a proficiency test. The measure is sponsored by the California Cattlemen’s Association and supported by the California Farm Bureau.
AB-1644 (Heath Flora, R-Ripon) has been signed by Governor Newsom. This bill will exempt forestry, fire prevention and fuels reduction projects and programs funded by the State from prevailing wage, workforce development and high roads jobs requirements imposed on other state funded climate projects.
AB-1825 , an Assembly Agriculture Committee bill, will expand the current pack and shipping requirements for bulk melons and vegetables to out of state packers and processors to include all bordering states. The current exemption in law only applies to out of state packers and processors that are within 25 miles of the state border. This bill passed both houses unanimously.
SB-982 (John Laird, D-Monterey) has been signed by Governor Newsom. The bill, supported by Farm Bureau, would authorize the creation of the organic apple certification program, upon approval of the organic apple industry. The certification program would allow apple producers to make recommendations to the Department of Food and Agriculture to ensure domestic and non-domestic “organic” apples comply with state standards.
In the final three days of session, the Legislature debated how to spend the remainder of the state’s unprecedented budget surplus. Friday Review readers may remember that in the original budget process occurring in July, the Legislature settled to determine how to spend the final billions on climate, energy, drought, and transportation, until the end of August. For a short synopsis of funding of interest to agriculture, click here.