At the Capitol, June 2023

Legislature Update: Key Water Bills

It has been a busy first half of the year for the California legislature, with more than 3,000 bills introduced (a record-setting number) and a budget deficit. June 2nd marked a key deadline — the house of origin deadline — that requires a bill to move out of the house it was introduced in or be considered “dead” for the year. Those that moved on have until September 15th to pass out of the 2nd house and to the governor’s desk. A grand total of 1,056 bills were passed out of their original house. Blue Diamond is monitoring 99 bills, with 23 taking a priority status in our advocacy.

The legislature has also been focused on the state budget, which it needs to approve, and the governor must sign before July 1, the start of California’s fiscal year. After weeks of negotiation, the two recently came to an agreement. The $310.3 billion budget agreement comes after, among other issues, the Governor agreed to remove the Delta Conveyance Project from his infrastructure streamlining package, which had been a sticking point in budget negotiations between the legislature and the Governor.

For legislature, water and more specifically, water rights, have gained the attention of the legislators this year. The following water and water right bills are those that have the potential to significantly impact the agriculture industry and are those that Blue Diamond, along with our industry associations, is actively engaged.

  • AB 460 (Bauer-Kahan) – Authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to halt allegedly unlawful water diversions via interim relief orders without any sort of judicial review.
  • AB 1337 (Wicks) – Would overturn a key state court decision and give the State Water Resources Control Board the legal authority to curtail diversions without an emergency declaration– including by those who hold pre-1914 water rights.
  • SB 389 (Allen) – Gives SWRCB authority to investigate the validity of water rights.
  • AB 1563 – Prohibits permit approval for a new groundwater well or for alteration of an existing well in critically over drafted water basins without meeting certain criteria.

Governor Newsom’s Infrastructure Package

Last month, Governor Newsom released an infrastructure plan to streamline major infrastructure projects and reduce environmental litigation delays. The plan would support quick implementation of projects related to water, transportation and electrification by streamlining the permitting and CEQA processes, condensing construction timelines, expediting judicial review and leveraging federal funds.

The package received push back from the Assembly and Senate. Environmental groups have largely criticized the plan due to the environmental review changes. The business and agricultural community, however, have been supportive of the proposal because of its ability to streamline important infrastructure projects throughout the state.

The Governor signed an executive order launching a strike team to work across state agencies on infrastructure projects, while the bulk of the package was introduced via 10 pieces of legislation. After robust negotiations, the legislature has largely agreed to the package, apart from the Delta Tunnel project. The bills are now making their way through the legislature.

For more details on the package, click here.

USDA Extends Application Deadline for Revenue Loss Programs to July 14

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline for the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase Two and Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) to July 14, 2023, to give producers more time to apply for assistance. The original deadline was June 2.

Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is partnering with nine organizations to provide educational and technical assistance to agricultural producers and provide assistance in completing an ERP Phase Two application. The extended deadline will give producers more time to work with these partner organizations and apply for assistance.

For more information, click here.

Expanded Landflex Opportunities Now Available

Landflex opportunities will be expanding for farmers and ranchers within the state. The program provides financial incentives to growers to reduce demand for groundwater supplies and help comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The program is currently open to growers in Pixley Irrigation District GSA, Lower Tule River Irrigation District GSA, Mid-Kaweah GSA, or Westlands Water District GSA. For more information and to see if you qualify, visit

Blue Diamond joins the Agricultural Council Legislative Conference

BD group at the Ag Council conference

Each year Blue Diamond participates in the Agricultural Council of California’s legislative conference. The conference brings together the agricultural industry to learn about and advocate on important industry issues. The event provides an opportunity for key decision and policy makers to hear directly from those impacted by their decisions. This year, Blue Diamond brought a strong contingent of growers and Blue Diamond staff to hear from and meet with California legislators, staff, and regulators. The group discussed their farming operations and/or role in the agriculture industry, and the potential impacts of key water bills with legislators. Thank you to all that joined us!

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