Business Community Scores Two Victories Going Into Legislative Summer Recess

In the final week of Committee hearings before California lawmakers adjourn July 3 for their annual summer recess, bills mandating labeling on GMO foods and a measure to further increase the state minimum wage were defeated in Assembly policy committees.

While there is a possibility that either issue could resurface when lawmakers return in August for their final month of the 2013-14 session, it would be an uphill battle.

Earlier this week, after seeing her SB 1381 defeated on the Senate Floor in late May, Sen. Noreen Evans (D–Santa Rosa) inserted an identical GMO labeling mandate into SB 1040, which had already passed the Senate.

As with the initial effort, the new legislation exempted on-line retailers, farmers markets, and farm and food stands from the mandate along with restaurants. CGA worked hard to help ensure the bill was referred to the Assembly Agriculture Committee where its chances were far from certain.

By June 25, the author opted to pull the bill from consideration at its scheduled June 26 hearing after only one lawmaker would reportedly commit to supporting the measure.

Also going down to defeat was a bill by Sen. Mark Leno (D–San Francisco) to further increase California’s minimum wage. Senate Bill 935 would have modified the wage increase approved last year to instead set the minimum at $11 beginning Jan. 1, 2015, $12 beginning Jan. 1, 2016, and $13 beginning Jan. 1, 2017. The minimum would have been increased annually thereafter based on the CPI.

Two Democrats on the Assembly Labor Committee, Assemblymen Luis Alejo (Salinas) and Chris Holden (Pasadena) refused to support the bill, characterizing it as a betrayal of commitments made last year in connection with passage of AB 10. Ultimately, the bill fell one vote short of passage, though reconsideration was granted. Today’s vote comes less than a week before the first step of AB 10’s wage increase takes effect on July 1.

Additional efforts on each issue could surface in August, when lawmakers return to Sacramento for a frenzied month-long finale to the current Legislative Session.