Senate Bill 1 Continues to Move Through the California Legislature

Brian German Agri-Business, Legislative

senate bill 1

Last week California Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) continued with its forward momentum, advancing from the California Assembly Appropriations Committee by a vote of 13 to five.  The legislation that some environmental groups are referring to as ‘Trump insurance’ is now headed to the California Assembly floor.  The California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019 known as SB 1 seeks to uphold specific federal policy as it pertains to water.

“SB 1 is bad for farmworkers, farmers, and communities throughout the state of California. Our environmental laws and regulations should be defined by current, sound science not petty politics,” Chairman of the California Water Alliance (CWA), William Bourdeau said in a news release.

Authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins from San Diego, the legislation will forgo the consideration of any new biological opinions in favor of the biological opinions conducted approximately a decade ago.  Environmental groups including Defenders of Wildlife have been supporting the legislation since its inception, challenging the Trump Administration’s work to roll back regulations that have shown to be ineffective and unnecessarily burdensome.

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, who serves as Vice-Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, expressed his frustration regarding the progress that Senate Bill 1 continues to make.   “I am disappointed that SB 1 was released off suspense file with amendments that make it much worse for farming and California as a whole,” Bigelow noted.

Many agricultural groups have also expressed concern regarding the impact of the legislation.   CWA notes that the bill would significantly restrict the coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.  The California Chamber of Commerce has also included the legislation on its “Job Killer” list, due to the harm it would have on the state’s economic growth if it were to become law.

The last day for any bill to be passed during the current session is Friday, September 13.  If SB 1 continues to make progress in that time it will move to the Governor’s office, where Governor Gavin Newsom will have until October 13 to act upon it.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West