Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Farmworker overtime returns to Assembly for make-or-break vote

A farm worker for Chamberlain Farms in Woodland adjusts the cutting dimension on a tractor as he makes the first cut of hay on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.
A farm worker for Chamberlain Farms in Woodland adjusts the cutting dimension on a tractor as he makes the first cut of hay on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. hamezcua@sacbee.com

With major climate bills out of the way, Assembly members will turn their attention today to another heavily lobbied, contentious bill: a measure expanding overtime pay for agricultural workers.

The measure initially failed following an extraordinarily emotional floor debate. It was resuscitated and cleared the Senate earlier this week, with the razor-thin margin in a house generally perceived as the more liberal of the two (the bill passed with the bare minimum 21 votes) presaging another squeaker when Assembly Bill 1066 hits the Assembly floor today.

Expect the lobbying to be intense. Hundreds of members of the United Farm Workers union are expected for a 9 a.m. rally with lawmakers on the north steps, after which they’ll try to convince wavering members of the bill’s merits. Already, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, led a 24-hour hunger strike to agitate for the measure.

The agricultural industry has also been hitting the bill hard, with potent players like the California Farm Bureau Federation and local ag orgs arguing the mandate makes no sense given the unique hours agriculture involves and warning it would hurt small farmers. The Farm Bureau Federation spent a little around $280,000 in the first half of this year to weigh in on bills that include both farmworker overtime measures, and their push of late has been “orca heavy,” said Gonzalez chief of staff Evan McLaughlin.

WORTH REPEATING: “Legislation is not like Twitter.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, chiding reporters while also spurring several unintentionally ironic tweets.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Brown leaves a scolding voicemail for a local official.

INJURY OF THE DAY: Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, sacrificed his elbow for the sake of legislative Democrats’ softball victory over their Republican rivals.

PÉREZ PALS: Just because you’re no longer in the Legislature doesn’t mean you have to miss hanging out with other legislators at the end of session. Lawmakers will be making a pilgrimage to Berkeley tonight to see Former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, now occupying himself as a UC regent, transfer his official papers to the University of California, Berkeley. Several lawmakers are expected to travel down this evening for the 5:30 event.

HOME FRONT: Home health care workers are recurring figures in political fights over worker benefits. A landmark paid sick leave deal cut out such workers, angering some in organized labor, and the quest for overtime pay fueled a budget battle. This year we have a measure, Assembly Bill 1930, that would have policymakers study expanding benefits like Social Security or Medicare contributions and unemployment insurance to In-Home Supportive Services workers. Assemblymembers Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, and Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, will be urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the measure during a 9 a.m. rally on the north steps.

SO SPECIAL: Combating mosquitoes, delivering water, running airports: some 4,500 special districts throughout California carry out their duties with a collective staff of well over 100,000 people and cumulative spending on staff in the billions. But despite the broad authorities they wield and big dollars they deal in, such districts have been criticized for not having enough oversight from citizens who are often oblivious to their existence. The Little Hoover Commission will dig deeper into those issues during a 9:30 a.m. hearing in room 437.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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