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AB-292 High-speed rail: agricultural lands.(2011-2012)

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Amended  IN  Senate  August 16, 2011
Amended  IN  Senate  July 11, 2011
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 27, 2011
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 25, 2011
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 07, 2011


Assembly Bill
No. 292

Introduced  by  Assembly Member Galgiani
(Coauthor(s): Assembly Member Perea)
(Coauthor(s): Senator Rubio)

February 08, 2011

An act to add Section 185034.3 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to high-speed rail, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.


AB 292, as amended, Galgiani. High-speed rail: agricultural lands.
Existing law, the California High-Speed Rail Act, creates the High-Speed Rail Authority to develop and implement a high-speed rail system in the state, with specified powers and duties. Existing law, pursuant to the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century, approved by the voters as Proposition 1A at the November 4, 2008, general election, provides for the issuance of $9.95 billion in general obligation bonds for high-speed rail and related purposes. Various federal laws provide funding for allocation nationally to high-speed rail and other related projects.
This bill would require the authority to appoint an agricultural advisory committee with 9 members from a list of nominees recommended by the Secretary of Food and Agriculture. The bill would require the authority to consult with the committee and to reflect the committee’s comments on authority policies and related matters in any action item brought before the board of the authority.
 This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Vote: MAJORITY2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The agricultural industry is concerned that the High-Speed Rail Authority is not preserving agricultural lands in its planning activities.
(b) Proposed plans for high-speed rail alignments divide parcels, separating wells from growing fields, leaving some farmers without access to water or otherwise adversely affecting irrigation systems.
(c) Proposed plans cause some parcels to be orphaned, without egress, and potentially unprofitable.
(d) Loss of agricultural lands creates long-term loss of revenues to farm families, farmworkers and their families, and related agricultural business suppliers, processors, and handlers.
(e) California farmland is some of the most fertile farmland in the world and is not a renewable resource.
(f) Many potentially impacted lands are considered heritage lands, having been farmed and preserved by the same family for over 100 years.
(g) California farmers and ranchers are major contributors to local, state, and national economies, providing employment to many and generating a domestic food supply.
(h) The High-Speed Rail Authority’s stated policy on its impacts to industries is to avoid, minimize, and mitigate those impacts.
(i) It is the intent of the Legislature that the authority’s policies should be followed, and that impacts should be avoided and minimized, and then any remaining impacts on agriculture and resulting problems from high-speed rail construction should be fully mitigated. Mitigation considerations should not be limited to conventional practices, but should also include options used by other states and nations, or new mitigation options not previously implemented.

SEC. 2.

 Section 185034.3 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

 (a) The authority shall appoint an agricultural advisory committee from a list of nominees recommended by the Secretary of Food and Agriculture. The purpose of the committee is to advise the authority on the impact that authority policies, plans, practices, and procedures will have on the agricultural community. The authority shall consult with the agricultural advisory committee prior to adopting any policy relevant to agriculture, and reflect the comments of the advisory committee in any action item to adopt a policy or other action that is brought before the board of the authority. The authority shall provide written responses to the committee’s comments, which shall be distributed both to the board and the committee.
(b) The agricultural advisory committee shall consist of nine members, representing specific areas proposed to be affected by plans for high-speed rail. The membership shall change to reflect areas affected by each planning phase. Each member shall be active in a farming or agricultural enterprise or in an agricultural or related trade organization, and have technical expertise in one or more farm-related activities, including, but not limited to, well drilling, irrigation systems, animal husbandry, harvesting, processing, and agricultural transportation.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect any other requirements that may be imposed by law for the authority to respond to public comments submitted to the authority in writing or at public hearings.

SEC. 3.

 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order for the agricultural advisory committee set forth in Section 2 of this act to have an impact on the planning process for the high-speed rail system, and in consideration of the actions of the High-Speed Rail Authority to meet federal deadlines that require construction contracts to be in place by September 2012, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.