Family Winemakers of California monitors and lobbies a variety of public policy issues on behalf of its members. Legislation ranging from changes to the tied-house laws (the state’s alcohol laws that were crafted after Prohibition), fees and taxes, business regulations, and environmental issues that affect winery and vineyard operations must be identified, their impact gauged and action taken.
The scope of the effort is significant. Each year the California Legislature introduces over 2,000 bills.
Family Winemakers screened over 2,200 bills and identified 37 priority bills for the 2015-16 Legislative Session. A similar number of bills are likely to be introduced in early 2016. We're co-sponsoring AB 780 (Williams) to remedy the social media marketing problems that deal with naming retailers, and how to extend more tied-house advertising exceptions. The challenges ahead will continue to be water availability and its beneficial use, taxation, and farm labor.
Policy ommittee hearings have just about concluded in the house of origin. The 2015-16 budget is also under review and negotiations will intensify in mid May when the Governor issues his revised budget proposal.
State agencies, such as the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Food & Agriculture, and departments within the California Environmental Protection Agency that regulate business activities, formulate new regulations based on recent laws or update old regulations. In addition, Family Winemakers monitors and acts on initiatives pursued by these agencies and regional regulatory bodies, as well as federal actions by the Tax and Trade Bureau.
Our ongoing engagement in the 14-year Pierce’s Disease Control Program, which contains the spread of the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter while critical research on protecting grapevines is a priority. Growers are now votingon whether to extend the program and industry assessment until March 2021. Ballots are due May 11.
FWC is opposing a regulatory initiative being pushed by CalEPA to change Proposition 65 warning signs, add new warning language, and present additional, potentially non-scientific information on exposures through a new state website. A new alcohol warning sign will burden retailers with two signs. One would satisfy the recent court settlement and the new one would cover all producers not part of the suit. Logistically, it will be a burden on producers not grandfathered in under the old sign to cost-effectively get the new signs to all retailers. In addition, FWC was engaged in the heat illness regulatory proposal. Changes are effective May 1, 2015.
California State Capitol Building