• Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature
  • Anti-Pesticide Bills AB 916 & SB 86 Killed
  • SB 559 (Hurtado) Friant-Kern Canal Repairs Advances with Amendments
  • SB 468 (Jackson) Tax Expenditure Review Board Advances with Amendments
  • SB 1 (Atkins) Environmental Regulations Advances but Debate Continues

The legislature will adjourn today (Thursday) for a month-long summer recess, but not before taking up several high profile issues. Below is a summary of the bills we have been tracking and actively engaging on.

The Safe and Affordable Drinking Water legislation, SB 200 (Monning), passed out of both houses and now awaits the Governor’s signature.  SB 200 is the product of many years of negotiation between agriculture and the environmental justice community to provide a sustainable, long term revenue stream for impacted communities.  In combination with the ongoing funding authorized in the budget, SB 200 effectively limits growers’ exposure to enforcement actions by the State Water Board for nitrate contamination provided they are in compliance with existing water quality regulations.

A bill prohibiting the use of glyphosate by the State and local governments was re-introduced as a gut and amend of AB 916.  Fortunately, the bill died almost as quickly as it was revived.  AB 916 was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Ag Committee last week but was pulled by the Committee Chair Senator Cathleen Galgiani. Consequently, the bill will not be heard ahead of the July 13th deadline meaning it is dead…at least until next year.

SB 86 (Durazo), which would have banned the use of Chlorpyrifos in California as of January 1, 2021 also failed to advance when the Chair of the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, Assembly Member Bill Quirk, did not allow the bill to come up for a vote.  Again, this issue is dead until next year.

Senator Hurtado’s SB 559 was amended and passed by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  The bill, which aims to secure state funding for repairs on the Friant-Kern Canal, was previously amended in the Senate to make the funding contingent upon an appropriation in the budget.  This contingency was removed, which is positive considering the budget did not include the funding.  The bill will next go to Assembly Appropriations.

Senator Jackson’s SB 468 would establish the California Tax Expenditure Review Board as an independent advisory body to comprehensively assess major tax expenditures and make recommendations to the Legislature. The analysis would include the total estimated reduction in General Fund proceeds of taxes and subsequent reduction in Proposition 98 funding for education due to the tax expenditure.

SB 468 was passed by Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee with amendments following significant debate centered around the objectivity of the review board and whether or not such a board is actually necessary given that the legislature already has authority to review tax expenditures.  Assembly Members Adam Gray and Chad Mayes were most outspoken, voicing concerns about the creation of another bureaucracy.

While the amendments are a step in the right direction in terms of ensuring the board conducts a fair and balanced analysis, we remain concerned that the legislative recommendations could potentially result in alterations to the Ag sales tax exemption.  The bill next goes to Assembly Appropriations.

SB 1 by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins seeks to freeze into state law federal environmental protection regulations as of January 1, 2017.  CCM is opposed to SB 1 because it would, we argue, negate the voluntary settlement agreements that are currently being negotiated, and have long term consequences to how water is managed in the state.  SB 1 is opposed by a long list of agriculture associations, irrigation districts, and municipalities.  Nevertheless, it passed out of policy committees this week and will next go to Assembly Appropriations following the summer recess.