The California Legislature is rushing to wrap up its work prior to adjourning for the year. Several bills affecting Western Growers’ members are being considered.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Senate approved one of two groundwater management bills that had been previously introduced. AB 1739 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) passed on a 26-11 vote after lengthy debate in which supporters cited an urgent need to protect groundwater resources. Opponents of the legislation, including Western Growers, criticized provisions that alter established water rights laws and predicted that the legislation would prompt protracted litigation. A major concern of WG centers on provisions that would allow state regulators to restrict groundwater pumping due to alleged depletions of interconnected surface water bodies and environmental impacts caused by the depletion.
The measure, together with SB 1168 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) and a new third bill, SB 1319 (also by Pavley), would enact the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
The Assembly is scheduled to take up SB 1168 today and will also vote on AB 1739 once again before it goes to the governor for his signature. While WG and a coalition of ag and water interests continue to oppose the legislation, the measures continue to be amended to address different legislators’ concerns in order to secure enough votes for passage.
Western Growers issued an Action Alert to members this week urging them to contact their respective Assembly member and senator and urge a ‘NO’ vote. If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to send a message to your elected officials. It’s quick and easy.
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