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Former state Sen. Isadore Hall, a Democrat from Compton, is up for confirmation today in the Senate Rules Committee to fill an open seat on the five-member California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, which oversees collective bargaining rights for farmworkers in the state.
Gov. Jerry Brown tapped Hall for the position after he lost a congressional bid last year to fellow Democrat, Rep. Nanette Barragán. The seat on the agricultural board pays $142,095 annually.
The committee is set to take up Hall’s confirmation at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 113 of the Capitol. If approved, his confirmation heads to the full state Senate. Hall is facing opposition from powerful agricultural industry groups, including Western Growers. Industry representatives say past support Hall has received from the union representing the largest sector of agricultural workers – United Farm Workers – constitutes a conflict of interest.
“California’s farmers continue to struggle with increasingly powerful international and domestic competition, fueled by our state’s uniquely complicated regulatory environment,” Western Growers said in a statement submitted to Brown. “We desperately need leaders in government who will seek our engagement as partners, especially on those issues most heavily colored by conflict.”
The union endorsed Hall during his 2016 race for the House. Brown has been tight-lipped about the selection of Hall, offering a brief response to The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board after the appointment. “He is a good man. He cares about people,” Brown said in mid-January.
Hall, who served in the Senate from 2014 to 2016 and in the Assembly from 2008 to 2014, voted in favor of California’s historic farmworker overtime bill, signed by Brown last year. It grants agricultural workers the same right to overtime pay as other Californians.
A CHANGING CLIMATE: Energy experts are expected to brief an Assembly committee on California’s changing climate, as well as climate and environmental research underway across the state. Officials with the state’s Air Resources Board, the University of California, Berkeley and the state Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission.
The hearing is at 9 a.m. in Room 447 of the Capitol.
SHIFTING CARE: An Assembly budget subcommittee will hear an update to the state’s plan to shutter its remaining developmental centers, which serve developmentally disabled residents. The state Department of Developmental Services is moving forward with planned closures of its three remaining campuses – in in Sonoma, Orange and Tulare counties.
Brown is proposing to use a portion of the $450 million requested in his 2017-18 budget for state developmental centers for closures. The Sonoma Developmental Center is slated to close by the end of 2018, with the Fairview and Porterville developmental centers set for closure by the end of 2021. In total, the centers serve nearly 850 people with severe physical and mental disabilities who largely require around-the-clock care. The closures, which are expected to shift residents to community care facilities, are aimed at lowering state costs and providing better care for those with conditions such as cerebral palsy and severe autism.
The hearing is at 2:30 p.m. in Room 444 of the Capitol.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: Criminal justice reform advocates and Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, are among those expected to participate in a planned action at the Capitol to rally support for policies aimed at rehabilitating formerly incarcerated people. The action, called “Day of Empathy” and organized by the advocacy group #cut50, begins at noon.
The effort comes after California voters in November approved Proposition 57, a measure backed by Brown that eases prison terms for some felons.
WORTH REPEATING: “We are deeply concerned about the possibility of widespread deportations that will break up families and break down our communities.” – Statement from the California Catholic Conference of Bishops