AB 223 (Ward – D): Wildlife: dudleya: taking and possession
This legislation was recommended to be considered for support by CLCA Legislative Committee member Peter Dufau. The bill currently sits in the Senate Appropriations “suspense” file. The purpose of this AB 223 is to make it a misdemeanor to uproot, harvest or cut dudleya from state or local government property or from private property without permission and to sell, export, purchase dudleya that was taken illegally. Dudleya is a perennial California native succulent that has about 68 subspecies. As the popularity of succulents grow internationally, cases of illegal poaching of the state’s native dudleya have risen alarmingly, necessitating action and enforcement that will disincentivize it. These succulents can be grown in nurseries, but a fixation from buyers on larger, more mature dudleya that have been shaped by growing conditions in their natural habitat and have visible signs of weathering, has driven up the price of dudleya taken from natural areas of the state to as much as $1,000 per plant making them an attractive target of poachers. Under existing law, a person can already be prosecuted for the taking of dudleya. Depending on the circumstances and the specific species taken, the defendant could be prosecuted under the federal Endangered Species Act., California Endangered Species Act., the Native Plant Protection Act., the California Desert Native Plants Act., or simply under the Penal Code provision making it a crime to take plant material from public land or land that belongs to another person. Given the status of current law, it is unclear whether it will be any easier to catch and prosecute poachers under AB 223 if enacted. Recommendation: CLCA Legislative Committee have a discussion on the pros and cons of weighing in on this measure.
Labor Coalition Letter – Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Extension
On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 95, granting two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for COVID-19 to workers with employers who have 26 or more employees through September 30, 2021. A broad coalition of labor groups have recently written the Governor and legislative leadership asking for immediate action to extend this paid sick leave. The letter did not say specifically, but the assumption is that the extension ask is through the end of 2021. The labor coalition is asking for this to be accomplished through a budget trailer bill. There is a Cal-Chamber led coalition letter being prepared responding to this.
Bills on the Governor’s Desk if Recall is Successful – What Happens?
September 10th is the last day for the Legislature to pass any bills to the Governor this year. The Governor has until Midnight on Sunday October 10th to sign or veto any legislation on his desk. What happens if he is recalled? County election officials have 30 days after the recall election to complete the official canvas. On the 38th day after the election, or Friday October 22, if the recall has been successful the Secretary of State will certify the election results and the new governor will take the oath of office and assume the position for the remainder of the term which goes through January 2, 2023. Accordingly, regardless of whether Governor Newsom is recalled or not, he will be the Governor signing or vetoing ALL bills that make it to his desk at the end of session.
Drought Legislative Update
California has a total of 50 counties out of 58 that are under emergency drought declaration by the Governor. This represents the majority of California’s nearly 40 million people. Consequently, we are starting to see both voluntary and mandatory water conservation measures put into place. The Governor and Legislature agreed on billions in new spending on drought related initiatives in the 2021-22 budget. In July right before going on summer recess the Legislature sent the Governor a supplemental appropriations bill, SB 129 (budget bill junior), that included over $3.2 billion in new General Fund spending on drought. The most significant allocations in SB 129 for the “Water and Drought Resilience Package” include: a) $1.3 billion one-time to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), $650 million of which will be available for drinking water projects, $650 million for wastewater projects, $85 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling projects. b) $500 million to Department of Water Resources (DWR) for small community drought relief ($200 million), urban community drought relief ($100 million), multi benefit projects ($200 million). c) $100 million to DWR for water conveyance projects. d) $85 million to SWRCB for groundwater cleanup/water recycling projects. e) $65 million to the Wildlife Conservation Board for local assistance for drought-related purposes. f) $60 million to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. g) $33 million to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for fisheries and wildlife support projects. h) $33 million to SWRCB for water rights modernization. i) $10 million to DWR for salinity barrier projects. SB 129 also sets aside over $730 million that is still being negotiated between the Governor and Legislature for remaining proposals. We anticipate seeing more legislation before the end of session.