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November 4, 2022

California’s Capitol Dome Shouldn’t be the “The Big Top”

By Matthew Allen, Vice President, State Government Affairs

Attending the circus can be a really fun time for your family, especially for the kids. It’s amazing to watch all of the magical acts, animal tricks and acrobatics taking place. It’s fantastical, and that’s exactly the feeling and impression that you are supposed to have. Attending the circus affords an outlet to temporarily forget the pressures and challenges of daily life and merely sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds.

One doesn’t go to the Capitol in Sacramento and expect to see anything approaching a three-ring circus atmosphere. Yet, that is exactly the progression that the Legislature and state administrative agencies have been on for several years. Priorities are misplaced and most of the emphasis goes to the talking point or press release versus the actual language within a bill. Agricultural and business advocates are faced with this reality every day. Legislators review a bill and largely determine their stance based upon who is in support and opposition. They rarely read the language. This is very disheartening. There have been numerous occasions when a legislator has informed me that a particular bill is a bad idea but he or she would give it a courtesy vote in order to continue the conversation.

Most recently, when presenting a bill this August that would have further lowered California’s greenhouse gas emissions targets, an Assemblymember was asked by a Senator how the reductions would be achieved. The Assemblymember stated, likely accidentally, what the overriding belief is. He stated that somebody else will have to figure that out. The inference here is shameful. The state will set the goals that may or may not be achievable. These goals may or may not have severe economic consequences on our state. The state is not sure how implementing these reductions will help the climate. The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, this lack of clarity and intentional disregard to how policies will be fairly, economically, and reasonably implemented is permeating the entire legislative and regulatory process. State agencies perform mental gymnastics in order to create an illusion that a particular regulation will not have any significant economic impact. Amazingly, most rulemakings don’t even have to take into account other related regulatory costs or impacts.

Answering the “how?” question on legislation and regulations is vital. Otherwise, the state is simply setting consumers and businesses up for failure. Very important questions are looming unanswered. WG is front and center in demanding answers in numerous policy areas. How is the state going to move to “sustainable” use pesticides without harming our industry? What does “sustainable” even mean? How will we be able to move our produce from farm to market using electric pickup trucks and big rigs when there are no charging stations? How are we going to store and deliver more water to our farmers in order to ensure food security?

Perhaps I have done a disservice to the circus since circus performers have to practice and practice in order to ensure that the show goes off without a hitch. Not so with California legislators. On the most important issues of the day like water, labor, and crop protection, it’s apparently perfectly acceptable to address the disaster after it has occurred.