Legislative Update - April 26, 2016
Legislation Moves Forward
Last week was incredibly busy at California's Capitol.
AB 2678, Assembly Member Gray's innovative Sales Tax legislation to help fund California's fairgrounds, is still in play. About one-third of California Fairs sent in letters of support to Assembly Member Gray, and it has made a difference! We very much appreciate your engagement in the process showing that the California Fair Network is invested and paying attention.
Last Monday, April 18, AB 2678 left suspense in a 9-0 vote (yay!). All bills that have a fiscal impact are put 'on suspense,' or on hold, until that date, and very few make it out of the suspense file. In order to move this bill off suspense and continue its progress into the Senate, where more applicable changes can be made, the author accepted several amendments including the inclusion of a sunset clause (5-year term unless reinstated) and boundary restrictions excluding Los Angeles County. It is the intent of your staff and advocacy team, and of the author, that AB 2678 apply to the Fair Network in its entirety and we continue to work to make that happen. These changes allowed the bill to move forward from the Assembly Agricultural Committee, approved on a 7-0 vote (yay!). Next, AB 2678 moves to Assembly Appropriations where the fiscal impact will be examined. It will remain on suspense there until the budget revision in May, after which it will be voted on. If and when it moves forward to the Senate is when the opportunity will come for further amendments refining the bill. We will keep you informed every step of the way, and may be calling for your assistance.
The 2016-17 Budget still includes the $3.1 million continuous appropriation for fairground operations and training. Currently, there is $4 million allocated for fairground infrastructure in the budget (as opposed to $7 million last year). We are working on getting that figure increased. Legislators that support us are circulating a budget letter at the Capitol asking the Senate and Assembly fiscal committees to consider increasing the fairground infrastructure funding in the 2016-17 State Budget from its current $4 million to $10 million. View the budget letter - with many legislator signatures, here.
We will know more about this strategy when the revised budget comes out in late May.
The Elephant Guide
Senator Lara's SB 1062, seeking to ban the elephant guide, moved forward with a 29-9 vote in the Senate Water and Natural Resources Committee, April 18. The bill has now been referred to the Assembly. This bill is very similar to SB 716, last year's effort to ban the guide, which was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown as being unnecessary. WFA maintains a strong interest in defeating this legislation as it has dangerous implications for all human-animal contact at fairgrounds, both in California and around the country. Last year, the most effective strategy was that of summoning expert testimony and demonstrating the current laws already in place for safe and appropriate use of the elephant guide. We will continue to keep you informed on the progress of SB 1062 and appreciate your engagement.