While CCA's Legislative Staff monitors hundreds of bills each year, below are the bills CCA has recently taken up and is following during this legislative session. The position taken on each bill is one that is dictated according to CCA’s member-developed policies.
Since the December 2012 swearing-in of the legislature, CCA has been working proactively to introduce a series of bills that will address many of the regulatory challenges faced by ranchers in California.
AB 343 – Animal Welfare – CCA-Sponsored Bill, Authored by Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno)
What it does: AB 343 would mandate that any individual, knowingly or willfully videotaping or photographing the cruel or inhumane treatment of livestock, provide this evidence to local law enforcement within 48 hours.
Why it’s important: California’s livestock producers care deeply for the welfare of their animals and maintain the highest standards for animal care, and should be made aware of any animal cruelty occurring on their property so that they can take immediate corrective measures. Videos of animal abuse have sometimes been compiled over long periods of time before being released to the media. In order to prevent prolonged animal suffering, CCA hopes to hold those accountable who commit or contribute to livestock cruelty, and ensure immediate corrective measures are taken.
AB 924 – Livestock Theft – CCA-Sponsored Bill, Authored by Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals)
What it does: If passed, AB 924 provides penalty enhancements for those convicted of livestock grand theft based on the total value of the livestock stolen. The bill will also limit probation for repeat offenders, and allow a prosecutor to ask for a minimum 30 day jail sentence. The bill also establishes that a fine be paid by convicted thieves to the Bureau of Livestock Identification to provide additional funding for investigating livestock theft.
Why it’s important: The increasing value of livestock has exponentially increased the rates and severity of cattle rustling. In most cases, those convicted of livestock grand theft receive minimal punishment. This bill will provide the tools necessary for prosecutors to properly penalize persons convicted of livestock theft, especially those with previous convictions.
AB 1369 – Flatbed Pickups – CCA-Sponsored Bill, Authored by Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo)
What it does: AB 1369 would, if passed, exempt a flatbed pickup used in agriculture and in a not-for-hire capacity from having to obtain a motor carrier permit or travel through inspection stations operated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
Why it’s important: Current law requires operators of a flatbed pickup, having a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds, to obtain a motor carrier permit (MCP) and a commercial identification number. Under most circumstances, the same pickup with the original manufacturer’s bed is not required to comply with these regulations. The exemption established by AB 1369 would also apply to any pickup, regardless of the configuration of the bed, having a GVWR less than 14,000 pounds. This exemption would reflect the new, heavier truck models.
SB 478 – Semitrailer Length & KPRA – CCA-Sponsored Bill, Authored by Sen. Anthony Canella (R-Ceres)
What it does: This bill would enable semitrailers no longer than 53 feet in total length, used exclusively to haul livestock, to operate on major California highways and those routes designated as federal primary aid highways or “STAA” routes.
Why it’s important: Current law enables 53-foot semitrailers to operate on major highways or “STAA” routes, but because of restrictions requiring the king-pin of the trailer to be no farther than 40 feet from the rear axle, most commonly used livestock semitrailers in the West are ineligible for operation in California. Because a livestock trailer has a belly which extends between the front and rear axles, the operator is precluded from moving the rear axle forward to achieve the 40-foot king-pin-to-rear-axle setting. This bill provides a positive step forward in eliminating the inconsistent laws among large cattle producing states.
SB 749 – Endangered Species Act – CCA Co-sponsored Bill, Authored by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis)
What it does: SB 749 would reauthorize current provisions under the California Endangered Species Act that provide limited protection for farmers or ranchers who unknowingly “take” a threatened or endangered species listed under the California Endangered Species Act through a routine agricultural activity.
Why it’s important: SB 749 is absolutely critical to protect farmers and ranchers from criminal or civil penalties associated with the taking of a threatened or endangered species that they do not realize exists on their property.
CCA is proud to partner with each of these authors on their respective pieces of legislation and will continue to keep members apprised on the progress of these bills and others that CCA is monitoring during this legislative session. For further information on any of these bills, don’t hesitate to contact Justin Oldfield or Margo Parks in the CCA office at (916) 444-0845.
End of 2011-2012 Session Results on CCA-monitored legislation
Check back soon for positions on other bills CCA is monitoring.
AB 1578 (Logue) – Sent to Governor *CCA-Sponsored*
AB 1578 has been presented to the governor for his signature after unanimously passing both the Assembly and Senate. The bill would establish a third-party watermaster for ranchers in Indian Valley in Plumas County at their request. Following the adoption of last year’s budget that ended the 50 percent cost-share for the state’s watermaster program administered by DWR, producers were forced to pay the difference and many ranchers saw fee increases of 540 percent. AB 1578 will allow producers in the area, should they choose, to establish their own watermaster program under the court’s adjudication proceedings to increase management efficiencies and decrease overhead and other costs to keep rates low for fee payers.
AB 523 (Valadao) – Signed by Governor *CCA-Supported*
AB 523 was enacted into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last week. CCA strongly supported this bill throughout the entire two-year legislative process it went through in order to reach the Governor’s desk. Specifically, the bill eliminates the approximately $9 million of state subsidies available for California corn ethanol producers who fall short of breaking even of producing a profit on an annual basis. While this state subsidy is relatively small, AB 523 sets a good precedent and reinforces the decision already made by Congress to let the blenders tax credit and import tariff for corn ethanol expire.
AB 1492 (Committee on Budget) – Sent to Governor *CCA-Supported*
AB 1492 was the product of last minute negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to pass a forest resources reform bill. Among other things, AB 1492 promulgated necessary tort reforms that limit a landowners liability should a fire begin on private property and spread to public land. The federal government has recently collected massive penalties from private landowners in court for the loss of public resources. In many instances, these cases have resulted in “double-dipping” whereby the federal government is seeking to have damages repaid for the loss of resources coupled with impacts to wildlife habitat, view sheds, etc. AB 1492 makes the necessary tort reforms to protect private landowners and CCA expects insurance premiums to decrease for large private landowners adjacent to public land.
AB 1313 (Allen) – Failed *CCA-Opposed*
AB 1313 sought to end the current 10-hour agricultural work day and instead impose a law requiring any work conducted over eight hours per day or 40 hours per week to be compensated as overtime. CCA worked very hard to oppose this bill and made several lobbying trips with members to demonstrate the impact the bill would have on business and farmworkers. Ultimately, a handful of key legislators at the request of CCA remained opposed to the bill and either voted “NO” or did not vote – effectively prohibiting the author to achieve the 41 votes necessary to pass a bill. The bill failed passage after over eight votes were taken with the final vote still six votes shy of receiving the necessary 41 to pass the Assembly.
AB 2179 (Allen) – Failed *CCA-Opposed*
AB 2179 would have authorized the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) assess civil fines for any violation of the Fish and Game code. Currently, a civil or criminal charge must be prosecuted through the County District Attorney’s office. CCA worked at great lengths to defeat this bill and it failed in the Senate receiving only 11 of the necessary 21 votes to pass.
AB 2346 (Butler) – Sent to Governor *CCA-Opposed*
AB 2346 sought to codify portions of the current Heat Illness Regulations administered by Cal/OHSA for farm employees in statute. In the bill’s original form, shade and water would need to be no farther than 200 feet from any employee at any time. It also established a private right of action clause allowing employees to sue employers for a violation of the shade and water provisions of the Heat Illness Regulations. Along with other agricultural organizations, CCA worked diligently to oppose the bill. In the face of strong opposition, the author decided to amend the bill and strike the 200 feet shade and water provisions but carry on with the private right of action provision for repeat offenders only. The bill passed the Assembly by a very slim margin.
AB 2676 (Calderon) – Sent to Governor *CCA-Opposed*
AB 2676 would make a severe violation of not providing “suitable water or shade” for agricultural employees a misdemeanor. Under AB 2676, the District Attorney would be responsible for determining if a crime was committed and would be required to spend local resources to prosecute a case. CCA is obviously very concerned with the impacts this bill might have on California’s farmers and ranchers. CCA opposed this legislation until the end and it narrowly passed the Senate and Assembly within a few votes late in the final days of the legislative session.
SB 1221 (Lieu) – Sent to Governor *CCA-Opposed*
CCA remains adamantly opposed to SB 1221 which bans the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats. Based on input from CCA members, CCA stood with other agricultural and hunting groups early on in opposition to the bill. Some amendments were made to SB 1221 along the way to allow the use of dogs to hunt bears under a depredation permit, however the language is problematic and we believe it will be ineffective for ranchers to manage bears that threaten livestock or cause property damage. This bill garnered a lot of public attention throughout the legislative process and was hotly debated in both houses.
SB 1148 (Pavley) – Sent to Governor *CCA Neutral*
SB 1148 was a companion bill to AB 2402 and sought to make significant changes to the authority of the DFG and the Fish and Game Commission. Most significantly, the bill in its original form created a private right of action clause that would allow a private citizen to sue another for any perceived damages to resources or wildlife. CCA adamantly opposed SB 1148 due to this provision which would likely result in unjust and frivolous lawsuits by individuals or organizations seeking to damage agriculture. Like AB 2402, the author agreed to make substantial amendments to SB 1148 in order to garner enough votes for the bill to pass and subsequently dropped the private right of action provision. The bill does contain language that would clarify and bolster the process for a landowner seeking to establish their property as a mitigation bank.
AB 2402 (Huffman) – Sent to Governor *CCA Neutral*
AB 2402 sought to substantially overhaul the authority of the DFG. Most significantly, the bill shifted the responsibility to list threatened and endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act from a majority vote of the Fish and Game Commission to a sole decision by the Director of DFG. CCA adamantly opposed this bill along with other agricultural groups. Based on strong opposition from CCA and others, the author substantially amended the bill to remove the harmful provisions CCA opposed including the ability for the Director to list threatened and endangered species. As a result of the amendments, all opposition was removed from the bill and the final version sent to the Governor is innocuous. If signed, this bill will over time transition the name of DFG to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.