Bill Text

Bill Information

PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

AB-472 Employer liability: small business and microbusiness.(2017-2018)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 09/07/2017 09:00 PM
AB472:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  September 07, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  June 26, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 472


Introduced by Assembly Member Frazier

February 13, 2017


An act to amend Section 1018 of the Water Code, relating to water. An act to add Section 6334 to the Labor Code, relating to employment.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 472, as amended, Frazier. Water transfers: idled agricultural land: wildlife, waterfowl, and bird nesting habitat. Employer liability: small business and microbusiness.
Under existing law, the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigates complaints that a workplace is not safe and may issue orders necessary to ensure employee safety. Under existing law, certain violations of that act or a standard, order, or special order authorized by the act are a crime.
This bill would prohibit the division from commencing any enforcement action for any nonserious violation, as defined, against any employer where the employer is a small business or microbusiness, as defined, without first giving the employer written notice and providing the employer 30 days to correct the violation. The bill would authorize the division to assess a reasonable fee to cover its costs not to exceed $50.

Existing law establishes the Department of Water Resources in state government and prescribes the functions and duties of the department with regard to the regulation of water resources including water transfers throughout the state. Existing law also establishes the Wildlife Conservation Board and requires the board to take various actions with regard to the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat in the state. Existing law requires landowners to be encouraged, when agricultural lands are being idled in order to provide water for transfer and an amount of water is determined to be made available by that idling, to cultivate or retain nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat.

This bill would require the department to allow nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation to remain on idled agricultural lands, without penalty to the landowner, unless it determines, based on peer-reviewed scientific studies or other credible scientific evidence, that an injury to another legal user of water would occur as a result of allowing those crops or vegetation to remain on those lands. The bill would require, if the department makes such a determination that an injury would result, that the landowner remove or kill the nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation from those lands. The bill would require the Wildlife Conservation Board to establish an incentive program, which may include grants or other financial incentives, for landowners who voluntarily cultivate or retain cover crops or natural vegetation on idled agricultural lands to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat, as described, and would require that the program meet certain requirements. The bill would require that the department and the Wildlife Conservation Board consult with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service prior to implementing those provisions, to determine the best ways of protecting wildlife habitat on idled lands.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 6334 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

6334.
 (a) The division shall not commence any enforcement action for any nonserious violation against any employer where the employer is a small business or microbusiness without first giving written notice to the employer and providing 30 days for the employer to correct the violation.
(b) The 30-day correction period shall commence upon effective service of the written notice by the division upon the employer or where written notice is served during an inspection by the division.
(c) Notice of a correctable nonserious violation shall be an informal enforcement action and shall not constitute a first violation or an earlier violation supporting a subsequent finding of a repeat violation or an admission of guilt by the employer.
(d) The division shall assess a reasonable fee to cover its costs under this section not to exceed fifty dollars ($50) per nonserious violation.
(e) This section shall not apply to a willful violation by an employer.
(f) For purposes of this section, “small business” has the same meaning as in Section 14837 of the Government Code.
(g) For purposes of this section, “microbusiness” has the same meaning as in Section 14837 of the Government Code.
(h) For purposes of this section, “nonserious violation” means any violation that is not classified as a serious violation under Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

SECTION 1.Section 1018 of the Water Code is amended to read:
1018.

(a)(1)When agricultural lands are being idled in order to provide water for transfer pursuant to this division, and an amount of water is determined to be made available by that idling, landowners shall be encouraged to cultivate or retain nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat, provided that all other water transfer requirements are met.

(2)(A)The department shall allow nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation to remain on idled agricultural lands, without penalty to the landowner, unless it determines, based on peer-reviewed scientific studies or other credible scientific evidence, that an injury to another legal user of water would occur as a result of allowing those crops or vegetation to remain on those lands.

(B)If the department determines that an injury to another legal user of water would occur under subparagraph (A), the landowner shall remove or kill the nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation that would cause that injury. Any other vegetation not required to be removed or killed pursuant to a determination under subparagraph (A) may remain on those lands.

(b)The Wildlife Conservation Board shall establish an incentive program, which may include grants or other financial incentives, for landowners who voluntarily cultivate or retain cover crops or natural vegetation on idled agricultural lands to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat, including, but not limited to, for the purposes described in subdivision (a).

(c)The incentive program required established under subdivision (b) shall meet all of the following requirements:

(1)Prohibit a landowner who participates in the program and has committed to leaving the established cover crops or natural vegetation in place after April 1 from engaging in practices such as discing, spraying of herbicides, mowing, chipping, or rolling any vegetation on those idled lands until after July 1, or as late as possible each year, to address waterfowl nesting, upland gamebird habitat, and other wildlife needs.

(2)Employ licensed professionals such as biologists or other wildlife experts to monitor nesting bird activity and salvage eggs prior to permitting the removal of any cover crops or natural vegetation on any lands covered under the incentive program.

(3)Ensure that any determination pursuant to subdivision (a) regarding the removal of cover crops or natural vegetation is supported by credible scientific data, such as peer-reviewed scientific studies.

(d)The incentive program may provide direct payments to private landowners using available federal funds, including funds made available under federal legislation, state or federal grants, or private grants and donations. Other incentives deemed appropriate by the Wildlife Conservation Board may also be offered to participating landowners. The Wildlife Conservation Board may utilize the assistance of the Department of Fish and Wildlife in implementing the program, including, but not limited to, monitoring and compliance activities. Nonprofit conservation groups or organizations may also assist in implementing the program to the extent that the Wildlife Conservation Board or Department of Fish and Wildlife deems appropriate.

(e)The incentive program may also include agricultural lands not subject to water transfers or lands fallowed for any other legal purpose.

(f)The department and the Wildlife Conservation Board shall consult with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service prior to implementing this section to determine the best ways to protect wildlife habitat on idled lands.

(g)The incentive program described in subdivision (b) shall also apply to landowners who take voluntary action to cultivate or retain irrigated or nonirrigated cover crops, natural vegetation, or other wildlife habitat on lands fallowed pursuant to the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (Part 2.74 (commencing with Section 10720) of Division 6).