The first year of the 2017-2018 California legislative session is in full swing and the Legislature took action last week on hundreds of bills in order to meet the house of origin deadline. Several key labor, water and crop protection bills that WG has been actively lobbying are updated below.
AB 5 (Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego) – Oppose: This bill would create the Opportunity to Work Act which would require an employer with 10 or more employees to offer additional hours of work to an existing nonexempt employee before hiring an additional employee or subcontractor. WG is part of a large business coalition in opposition to this bill because it will limit employers’ ability to effectively manage their workforce to address both consumer and employee requests, subject employers to costly fines and multiple avenues of litigation for technical violations of the bill’s provisions. AB 5 did not move out of the Assembly and has become a two-year bill.
AB 378 (C. Garcia, D-Bell Gardens) – Oppose: AB 378 would extend the California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) cap-and-trade authority to 2030 and further requires CARB to adopt air pollutant emissions standards that industrial facilities would have to meet in order to receive free cap-and-trade allowances post 2020. AB 378 also mandates CARB to consider and account for the social costs of greenhouse gas emissions when adopting rules and regulations. The bill failed passage in the Assembly but remains eligible to be heard next year.
AB 450 (Chiu, D-San Francisco) – Oppose: This bill would penalize employers that voluntarily comply with federal enforcement authorities on I-9 audits and other immigration related inspections. AB 450 prohibits an employer from cooperating with federal authorities and forbids an employer from granting access to a place of employment by an immigration enforcement agent without a properly executed judicial warrant. The bill also requires employers to issue notifications to employees and to the labor commissioner regarding immigration enforcement activities. Employers would be subject to significant fines for each violation of the bill’s provisions. WG is helping to lead a large business coalition in opposition to AB 450. The bill passed out of the Assembly and will next be considered in the Senate.
AB 975 (Friedman, D-Glendale) – Oppose: WG is part of a large coalition in opposition to this bill which would expand the area protected in the Wild and Scenic River System from areas considered ‘immediately adjacent’ to the river to areas that are within a quarter mile of the river. The bill also expands the types of areas that could be considered ‘wild and scenic.’ AB 975 is now a two-year bill as it could not get enough votes to pass off the Assembly floor.
AB 1667 (Friedman, D-Glendale) – Removed Opposition: This bill relates to agricultural water management planning and drought preparedness. It had the potential to cost water suppliers hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement. Those costs would be passed on to growers. WG staff spearheaded a large coalition in opposition to this bill and worked with the author and members of the Assembly in an effort to have our amendments included in the bill. Currently, the bill contains all of our requested amendments. However, we remain concerned about the Department of Water Resources’ as-of-yet undefined role to review the plans and will oppose any enforcement authority by the State Water Resources Control Board. AB 1667 passed out of the Assembly and will be considered in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee later this month. However, because this bill is largely the result of language contained in the Administration’s Budget Trailer Bill “Making Conservation A Way of Life,” we are also negotiating with the governor’s office as the language may end up in a budget trailer bill that may be voted on next week.
SB 252 (Dodd, D-Davis) – Oppose: This bill undermines local efforts to manage groundwater in critically overdrafted basins by requiring cities and counties to amend their current groundwater well ordinances to “substantially comply” with the requirements of the bill, including a notice and comment period for each groundwater well application. SB 252 negatively impacts property rights by picking and choosing which groundwater extractors may continue to extract groundwater after a Groundwater Sustainability Plan is implemented. It would also impose significant burdens on well applicants that could expose them to additional litigation. The bill passed out of the Senate and will be heard in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee this month.
SB 602 (Allen, D-Santa Monica and Wiener, D-San Francisco) – Oppose: This bill would require the labeling of seeds and plants treated with neonicotinoids and makes infractions of the law punishable under the Unfair Business Practices Act. WG was part of a coalition of agricultural and business interests in opposition to this bill and to the negative precedent that it would set. This bill did not come up for a vote in the Senate thereby missing the deadline to pass out of that house. However, the bill remains eligible to be heard next year.
SB 623 (Monning, D-Carmel) – Support in Concept: This bill creates the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund which would provide grants, loans, contracts, or services to assist those without access to safe and affordable drinking water. WG staff continues to work closely with all of the stakeholders in developing language for this bill that identifies a funding source for both nitrates and other constituents and provides a pathway for growers to comply with their irrigated lands programs thereby avoiding enforcement. This measure passed out of the Senate and will be heard in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Materials Committee this month.