Legislative Updates

May 28th, 2014 by Keith Schildt

Nationwide, May has been a good month if you’re an advocate for GMO labeling. Vermont’s Governor signed into law a GMO labeling bill that will require products containing genetically modified ingredients in Vermont to be labeled as such starting in July 2016. However, it appears that GMO producers will file a lawsuit against Vermont. Two counties in Oregon passed GMO labeling laws. The counties, Jackson and Josephine, are in southern Oregon in the Rogue Valley region. According to ABC News accounts, “based on recent Oregon legislation, Jackson County’s ban, which attracted national attention and money, will have the force of law, but Josephine County’s ban appears headed for a court battle.”

Closer to home, on Friday, May 23rd, SB1381 (authored by Democratic State Senator Noreen Evans) passed out of the State Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-2 vote. Orange County State Senator Mimi Walters (R. 37th District) voted no on the bill in Appropriations. It will now go to the floor for a full vote by the State Senate by May 30th. If passed by the State Senate, the bill will then go to the Assembly. If you are a proponent of GMO labeling you are advised to quickly contact your state senator (for most of us that will be Mimi Walters) and urge that they pass SB1381. To find your state senator, go to: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

In other state legislative news, AB2561 (The Neighborhood Food Act) will go to full Assembly for vote. AB2561 would give renters of single-family homes and duplexes the right to grow produce on the rental property as long as it does not create trip-and-fall risks or other hazards. It also allows the landlord to require an additional security deposit to cover the costs associated with restoring landscaping to its original state after the tenant moves out if the tenant does not restore it. The bill also would make it illegal for homeowners associations to prohibit or otherwise restrict growing produce by resident within the association.

AB1990 (Community Food Production) deals with gleaning and small scale “backyard” production. It is a very confusingly written piece of legislation that deals with direct and cottage food sales. It may require additional paperwork and expense for small-scale production sales. One concern is that it may allow County Health Inspectors to inspect the production area as frequently as they want and the cost of the inspections would be on the producers. It will go to the full Assembly for vote.

Lastly, though not a legislative action, about 150-200 people were involved in the March Against Monsanto rally in Laguna Beach on Saturday May 24th.

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