Governor Gavin Newsom at Climate Week in 2019. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

Following the close of legislative sessions on Sept. 14, Governor Gavin Newsom has several pieces of agricultural legislation to consider within the next three weeks. The state will consider measures in climate action, water rights, and pesticide regulation.


At the forefront of water legislation, Senate Bill 389 moved on to the governor’s desk, marked as an effort to increase the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority over appropriative and riparian water rights holders. The bill would authorize the board to investigate the validity of a water right, and in the event of an unauthorized use, the board may issue water usage as a trespass.

Proponents of the bill explained that the bill would enable the Water Board with the “ability to better manage the water system, benefitting all users and protecting the ecology of California’s many beautiful streams,” according to the Planning and Conservation League

Another bill aimed at curbing riparian water rights was opposed and effectively stalled. Introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AB 1337 would have allowed the Water Board to curtail agricultural diversions in non-drought years.


In the same vein as California’s initiative to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, SB 253 and SB 261 would require businesses to report on direct and indirect emissions. Both bills passed the legislature despite opposition from the Ag Council.

Senator Scott Weiner introduced SB 253, requiring businesses with over $1 billion in annual revenues to track and report any direct, indirect, and supply chain emissions. The Ag Council requested an amendment to remove supply chain emission reporting, but it was rejected.

Shortly after SB 253 passed the legislature, Governor Newsom announced plans to sign the bill along with other climate action measures at Climate Action Week in New York. Newsom also announced his support of SB 261, which would force large corporations to disclose any climate-related financial risks.

The governor also issued a lawsuit against several oil companies on Sept. 15, with his office stating, “Oil executives deceived the public for decades about how fossil fuels are hurting our health and destroying our planet.”


Before the session closed, the legislature considered several bills aimed at pesticide regulation and has effectively moved forward with Assembly Bill 363 to ban consumer use of neonic pesticides.

If signed by the governor, the bill would require consumers to hire professional applicators. According to the Ag Council, despite language in the text that the bill is for non-agricultural uses, AB 363 has the potential to impact California agriculture, heightening the difficulty of combating invasive pests.

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