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in committee. The bill would have also allowed the State Water Resources Control Board to revoke the regional water quality control boards’ regulatory authority. CFBF opposed to this measure.

SB 1256 (Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego), which would have created the Salton Sea Restoration Council as a separate agency within the Resources Agency, was held by the committee. The council would have been required to implement the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program Preferred Alternative. Farm Bureau was working with the author on our concerns, but had not taken a formal position.

SB 1576 (Dean Florez, D-Shafter), which would have created a state level country of origin labeling program, was also held by the committee. CFBF originally opposed this bill due to federal preemption issues, however, Senator Florez amended the bill to match the provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill and we removed our opposition. Given that the 2008 Farm Bill is now set to go into law, SB 1576 won’t be necessary.

The 80 members of the Assembly showed considerably less self-restraint than the 40-member Senate in proposing 442 spending bills that would have cost the state another $2 billion that it doesn’t have. In a modest effort to slow the deficit spending, the Assembly Appropriations Committee held a third of those bills (145 measures) on its Suspense File and amended 64 percent (190 measures) of the 297 bills they eventually sent to the Assembly floor. The total cost of the Assembly proposals would be $23 million. This would be equivalent to being stuck in a deep hole of your own making and instead of stopping the digging; you just start using a smaller shovel. Thankfully, all 297 Assembly bills must pay a visit to the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well.

Some of the Assembly bills of interest that will now move to the Assembly floor for consideration included:

AB 1988 (Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland) regarding workplace hazards was approved by the committee and sent to the floor. The bill would require an employer to abate hazards alleged by Cal/OSHA immediately unless the employer indicates, by verified petition in its notice of appeal to the appeals board, that it seeks a stay of abatement and the reasons why abatement is not necessary to protect employee health or safety. A quick hearing would follow. Under current law, if an employer contests a citation, he need not abate the hazard until Cal/OSHA and the employer settle the matter, or the employer’s appeals are exhausted. Current law encourages settlements and rapid abatement, while the proposed change would discourage constructive dialogue between Cal/OSHA and employers, thus hampering cooperative efforts to reach reasonable and effective resolutions of workplace hazards. CFBF has joined most of the California employer community in opposing AB 1988. Discussions with the bill's sponsors have been productive so far and may result in a compromise.

AB 1989 (Swanson) to increase the notice employers must give of impending layoffs from 60 days to 90 days was also sent to the Assembly floor. Further amendments could pose problems for seasonal employers, and CFBF will continue to track this legislation.

AB 2175 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz) that would require the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to establish a numeric water conservation target for the state was amended and sent to floor. The bill, sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council, references the California Water Plan and suggests urban water conservation can reduce water demand by between 2 and 3 million acre-feet per year by the year 2030, and that agriculture can provide up to 500,000 acre-feet per year in water savings in the same time period. CFBF and other agricultural representatives continue to work with the author of the bill to address concerns. CFBF has not yet taken a position on the measure.

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