Gavin Newsom speaking at a podium. 9/2020
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed multiple bills ahead of the Oct. 14 deadline, with a particular focus on climate action. According to Cal Matters, the governor also blocked nearly 30% of the proposed legislation.

Key agricultural bills were among those signed in October, specifically addressing pesticide usage, water rights, and climate emissions.

PESTICIDES

Despite pushback from the Ag Council, Newsom signed Democratic Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s AB 363 on neonicotinoid pesticide usage. In his approval letter, Newsom explained that the Department of Pesticide Regulation is instituted to protect people and the environment by regulating their use of neonicotinoids.

While the bill is targeted at non-agricultural users, the Ag Council stated that the legislation was not communicated with the agricultural community prior to its passing and undermines DPR’s science-based research on pesticides.

WATER RIGHTS

Multiple water rights bills were considered in California this year, but Newsom approved Senate Bill 389 to allow the state to investigate even the longest-standing water rights claims. The bill, introduced by Democratic Senator Ben Allen, authorizes the California State Water Board to investigate water rights claims and take action against unauthorized users.

After initial pushback from the California Farm Bureau and other water stakeholders, the bill was amended to establish due process requirements as well as a requirement for the board to explain information requests.

CLIMATE ACTION

Following Climate Action Week in New York, Newsom reiterated his platform on climate legislation and pledged to sign several key bills. Senate Bill 253 — which requires businesses with over $1 billion in annual revenues to track and report any direct, indirect, and supply chain emissions — was signed on Oct. 7.

In the signing letter, Newsom stated that the implementation deadlines are infeasible, but his administration will work with the bill’s author to address potential issues.

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