Over 600 bills are up for consideration on Friday as the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees tackles an expansive list of proposals that are currently parked on their suspense files.  The suspense file is a de facto holding pen for all bills that have a fiscal impact on the State greater than $150,000.  Those bills must be lifted off suspense and passed by the Appropriations Committee by Friday (August 30) in order to move to the Floor prior to the end of the session on September 13. Consequently, this is a contentious week in the Capitol as legislators debate some of the most controversial issues of the year.

Below is a summary of the bills CCM is currently tracking and engaging on.

All eyes are laser-focused on SB 1, a bill by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins that, as currently written, would lock in the existing biological opinions on the Delta and restrict the Administration’s ability to engage with the voluntary settlement negotiations. The Administration has weighed in with amendments that closely mirror those that our coalition has provided to the author.

Amending SB 1 is the best outcome as it is likely that SB 1 will pass and the Governor will sign it.  The focus has been on the Governor’s office and with other legislators to weigh-in with support for the amendments.

SB 1 is currently on the suspense file in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 5 (Gonzalez) and the issue of employee versus independent contractor classification is becoming increasingly high profile with labor unions and the tech industries at odds.  While Farm Labor Contractors and their employees do not fall under the Dynamex decision or AB 5, AB 5 would affect companies that contract with independent truckers and haulers. Many of these entities currently operate as independent contractors; however, under AB 5 those entities would be classified as an employee and place. While CCM does not have a formal position on AB 5, we are aligned with a business coalition seeking amendments that would exempt independent truckers and haulers.

AB 5 is currently on the suspense file in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 54 (Allen)/AB 1080 (Gonzalez) are companion bills that would enact the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act require the state to adopt regulations that require  manufacturers to source-reduce single-use packaging and priority single-use plastic products (defined), to ensure that  all single-use packaging and priority single-use plastic products manufactured on or after January 1, 2030, and offered for sale, sold, distributed, or imported in or into the California market are recyclable or  compostable, and (3) to collectively achieve and maintain, by January 1, 2030, a statewide 75% reduction of the waste generated from single-use packaging, and a statewide 75% reduction of the waste generated from priority single-use plastic products, offered for  sale, sold, distributed, or imported in or into the state.

The bill further authorizes the State to impose on a manufacturer an administrative civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $50,000 per day on a producer that is not in compliance.We are concerned that, if passed, this bill will create challenges with supply and reasonably priced packaging which would have a trickle-down impact on packers and growers. While the responsibility for compliance is on the package manufacturer, given the high penalty, there will be little interest by any manufacturer to continue with a type of packaging if for some reason it cannot meet the requirements of the bill.  Further, even if a manufacturer were to be compliant on the front end, the recycling component on the backend is nowhere as developed as will be needed to meet that element of the bill.

Packaging manufacturers are aggressively working to get amendments to the bill and it appears that the Governor’s office is at the table in hopes of striking a compromise.  With only weeks left in the session and no substantial progress being made, CCM and other agriculture associations weighed in this week in opposition of the bill.

AB 1080 and SB 54 are currently on the suspense files in the Assembly and Senate Appropriations committees, respectfully.

SB 559 (Hurtado) was amended to change the granting entity to the CA Water Commission instead of the Department of Water Resources and to require a match of at least 35% of the grant funding from other sources.

While the bill enjoys bipartisan support, it stands an uphill battle in appropriations simply due to its high price tag.  Optimistically, there is a greater chance of success in next year’s budget now that a strong foundation of support has been created by allowing this bill to move through the policy process. CCM strongly supports SB 559 and commends Friant Water Authority for their work on this issue as well as Senator Hurtado and others for the continued efforts.

SB 559 is currently on the suspense file in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 285 (Mayes) is another attempt by PG&E to shift the cost burden of the 2017 and 2018 fires by allowing the utility to pay bankruptcy claims related to its past misconduct with up to another $20 to $40 million of ratepayer-backed, tax-exempt debt.

The bill is currently in a policy committee and requires a rule waiver by the State Senate to move forward in the current legislative session.  It does not appear that there is any willingness by Leadership in either house or the Administration to move forward.

CCM is part of a broad coalition that is opposing the bill and actively working in the Capitol to thwart any effort by PG&E or other utilities that negatively impact ratepayers.