We are pleased to say that 2016 was a successful year for FWC. We took positions on 13 bills and earned successful outcomes on 10. We were able to maintain FWC’s visibility both within the legislature, our respective stakeholder groups of alcohol and agriculture, and within the regulatory agencies.
In addition to the legislative proposals of the 2016 session, there continues to be a number of regulatory issues impacting our membership. Family Winemakers continues to engage on issues related to water, tied house law, pesticides, Proposition 65, and many others.
For a complete accounting of this year’s ongoing regulatory issues, please contact the FWC office.
A few of the year’s most prominent issues are listed below:
AB 1066 (Gonzalez)// AB 2757 (Gonzalez)
One of the hardest fought battles this year was between Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez and the agricultural community. At the start of the session, Assemblymember Gonzalez introduced AB 2757, which proposed to change the existing agricultural overtime law from 10 hours per day to 8 hours per day. Although the bill failed on the Assembly floor in June, it was resurrected in the Senate and ultimately managed to gain passage in both houses in the form of AB 1066.
Despite continued push back from the agricultural community, some changes to the bill, including extending the implementation time for those with fewer than 25 employees, proved enough to cause several legislators to change their vote, resulting in its passage and ultimately the Governor’s signature. This bill was sponsored by the United Farm Workers and had substantial backing and help from the labor community at large.
The agricultural community fought long and hard against this proposal, commissioning an economic study which FWC supported.
The Department of Labor will, over the course of the next year, develop implementation regulations and it will be critical for agriculture to be involved.
FWC Position: Oppose
AB 1670 (Dodd) Alcoholic beverages: licenses
This bill would authorize the ABC to issue no more than 5 additional new original on-sale general licenses to bona fide public eating places with a seating capacity of 25 or more diners, for a period of 1 year. FWC played an integral role in negotiation amendments and supporting the legislation as a priority in Senate.
FWC Position: Support
AB 2714 (Cooper) Pest control: Pierce's disease: funding
This bill would have appropriated $5 million from the General Fund to the Pierce's Disease Management Account in the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund. Family Winemakers of California continues to push for the reinstatement of state money into this program to fight Pierce’s Disease and other diseases impacting wine grapes.
FWC Position: Support
SCA 5 (Hancock) Split Roll
SCA 5 would have reformed the commercial aspect of Proposition 13 by regularly reassessing commercial and industrial property at their fair market value. It would exempt from taxation for each taxpayer an amount up to $500,000 of tangible personal property used for business purposes.
Business and taxpayer groups opposed the measure, arguing that commercial properties shouldn’t be held to a different standard than residential properties
A ballot initiative titled “Property Tax Surcharge to Fund Poverty Reduction Programs” was filed with the Attorney General’s office that would impose property tax on real property valued at $3 million or higher. Ultimately, proponents withdrew the measure, but we expect its return on the next general election ballot.
FWC Position: Oppose
SB 683 (Wolk) Alcoholic beverage licenses: nonprofit sales license
SB 683 authorizes the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a special nonprofit sales license, as part of the UC Davis viticulture program, to sell up to 20,000 gallons of wine and return the proceeds to the program. FWC has always been supportive of expanding the educational opportunities and viticulture programs throughout the state’s university system, and this bill was no different. To the extent that we can support educational opportunities in our industry through funding or expanded programs, we are happy to do so and are pleased to see our views shared by the Governor.
FWC Position: Support
After several public meetings, DPR has finally released their proposed regulation aimed at curtailing pesticide application near schools.
The proposed regulation would do the following:
Prohibit many pesticide applications within a quarter mile of public K-12 schools and child day-care facilities from Monday through Friday between 6am and 6pm. These include all applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast and all fumigant applications. In addition most dust and/or powder pesticide applications such as sulfur would also be prohibited during this time.
Require California growers and pest control contractors to notify public K-12 schools and child day-care facilities and county agricultural commissioners (CACs) when certain pesticide applications are made within a quarter mile of these schools and facilities.
FWC, along with the agricultural community at large is requesting that DPR provide more substantial scientific backing for this proposal. We do not believe that this proposal is derived from any data that demonstrates any evidence of health impacts.
There were a number of changes to the Proposition 65 law this year. FWC was actively engaged in the process and made great effort to ensure that a variety of proposals were modified so as to have the least negative impact on our members. While the new regulations are arguably now more complicated for both consumers and manufacturers, they are a significant improvement from initial iterations. We encourage you to contact our office for more specific information about the changes that have gone into effect and how you can comply.
This year, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) suffered a bit of a shakeup when their Director, Tim Gorsuch, stepped down. The wine industry also lost a good relationship when Lori Ajax, head of enforcement, took a position within the newly created department charged with regulating marijuana. The ABC is currently being led by Ramona Preito and a team of California Highway Patrol staff. The timeline for replacing the Director is unknown, and we are anxiously awaiting a new head of enforcement as well. We hope that 2017 will bring in new leadership that will continue the positive working relationship with FWC that we have had for the past several years. We will be sure to work with the new team to continue to focus on compliance and consistency issues.