September 14, 2020
Newsom to ‘fast-track’ climate regulations
Gov. Newsom said on Friday that California is seeing “a climate damn emergency” and the state must fast-track its efforts to decarbonize the economy.
“While it's nice to have goals to get to 100% clean energy by 2045, that's inadequate,” he said during a press conference.
Newsom offered few details but pointed to the recently approved clean-truck rule that sets a target for 2045 and mentioned accelerating strategies related to agriculture as well.
On that note: President Trump is stopping in Sacramento today to meet with fire officials on the state’s deadly wildfires.
At the site of the North Complex Fire on Friday, Newsom signed a bill related to former prisoners joining firefighting crews.
Ag disappointed with Newsom endorsing Prop. 15
Newsom announced is now endorsing Proposition 15. A broad coalition of ag and business groups are heavily opposing the ballot initiative, which proposes a tax increase on commercial property.
Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia responded to the news, saying that farms are already “withering under a hostile and worsening legal and regulatory climate.” He added: “Prop. 15, if passed, will add even more fuel to the motivation to quit California.”
California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said Newsom has sided with unions over hardworking farmers.
“Californians' grocery bills will increase, adding to the worries of people who already struggle to pay their bills,” he said.
The No on Prop 15 campaign sees it as a tax hike of $11.5 million, while proponents argue that revenue would support struggling schools. The ag community has been concerned that while the measure exempts farmland, it still covers property like barns, dairies, wineries and orchards.
Rivas named chair of Assembly Ag Committee
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has selected Robert Rivas of the Salinas Valley to chair the ag committee. Since taking office in 2019, Rivas has pushed through several labor-sponsored bills on farmworkers, with fierce opposition from industry groups. Rivas often ties his policies back to his childhood experiences living in farmworker housing while his grandfather worked the fields.
He replaces Susan Eggman of Stockton, who has reached the end of her term in the Assembly.
“I couldn't ask for a better successor,” she tweeted. “Few legislators have as direct a view into the lives of farmworkers as [Rivas] does. And with the array of crises in front of us, he will be the needed stalwart of the ag community.”
Eggman is running for her district’s state Senate seat in November. Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, who currently chairs the Senate Ag Committee, is terming out of that seat as well.
Keep in mind: The ag committees rarely have the opportunity to consider the biggest bills impacting the industry, including Rivas' most controversial ones.
New details on sick pay legislation
Last week, Daybreak West reported Newsom signed a bill expanding paid sick leave. While the measure is similar to an earlier bill opposed by ag, a few key distinctions kept the industry neutral on the second version of the measure.
The bill codifies the governor’s April executive order that adds two weeks of sick pay for food sector workers. It also benefits the industry by providing a specific date to sunset the paid leave, which is the end of 2020.
Labor lawyers at the Saqui Law Group say the law “gave teeth” to the executive order. “Ag employers can expect an increase in agency audits and investigations regarding COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave,” they advise.
Administration implements one, announces another reg reform
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is set today to announce what could be another step in the administration's regulatory reform agenda. He has scheduled a webinar with the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, to talk about a new rule on guidance procedures.
Guidance documents issued by EPA and other agencies are not legally binding but they clarify how agencies believe regulations should be interpreted and followed.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s sweeping overhaul of the federal environmental review process takes effect today. The administration is implementing new regulations that impose time and page limits on analyses conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act.
On Friday, the changes survived a motion for preliminary injunction filed mostly by Southeastern conservation groups.
For more on the NEPA reforms and the rest of this week’s agenda in the nation’s capital check out our Washington Week Ahead.
By the way: Wheeler is dismissing a lawsuit over the Chesapeake Bay cleanup as election-year politics. During a meeting Friday of EPA’s newly revived Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee, Wheeler accused the groups who have sued the agency of “attacking farmers in Pennsylvania and New York.”
Agri-Pulse map of the 2019 MFP payments
GAO findings on MFP due today
The top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, will be releasing a report today by the Government Accountability Office on USDA’s handing the Market Facilitation Program. Stabenow has accused USDA of skewing the program to the benefit of southern farmers.
She’ll be joined in an online news conference by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.
UK gets ag trade benefits in new Japan trade deal
The U.K. and Japan have signed off on a trade agreement that promises to cut Japanese tariffs on British pork, beef and other ag products.
The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is the first trade deal for post-Brexit Britain and the British continue to negotiate with many other nations, including the U.S. The U.S. ag sector is hoping the British will agree to relax EU-style restriction on American beef, pork and poultry. Ted McKinney, USDA’s undersecretary for trade, said he is heartened by the progress being made in the U.S.-U.K. talks.
Meanwhile, British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss says the new pact with Japan opens up the path for the U.K. to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal the U.S. helped form, but pulled out of in 2017.
He said it:
“While we have audacious goals, while we're leading the nation in low carbon green growth…we're going to have to do more.” — Newsom
Steve Davies, Ben Nuelle and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.
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