News

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ted Goldberg, The California Report - KQED News

Legislation that would expand the enforcement power of California’s pesticide regulator and increase penalties for farming companies that violate the state’s agricultural chemical laws failed in the state Assembly late Monday.

Assembly Bill 1419, authored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, would have given the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) the authority to issue $25,000 fines for serious violations of the laws. Currently, county agricultural commissioners can levy fines up to $5,000.

After Pesticide Incidents Sicken Farmworkers, Advocates Push to Make Penalties Stronger

The legislation needed 41 votes to pass but got only 35. The bill garnered significant support from Democrats in committee, but 18 members of the party voted against it or declined to vote when it got to the Assembly floor.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Several produce and farm labor contractors are contesting fines they face in connection with two separate pesticide drifts in the Central Valley that sickened close to 130 agricultural workers last year.

In August the Kern County agricultural commissioner issued more than $50,000 in fines against two firms, including Sun Pacific, the produce company behind the popular Cuties oranges, for violating pesticide rules in an incident that sickened 37 farmworkers near the town of Maricopa in May.

Investigators determined that Vulcan, a pesticide with the chemical chlorpyrifos, had drifted a half-mile from a seedless tangerine field into an area where cabbage-harvesting employees were working.

The commissioner, Glenn Fankhauser, fined Sun Pacific more than $30,000 for violating five pesticide laws, including a violation for improperly spraying Vulcan.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ted Goldberg, The California Report - KQED News

On Tuesday, California lawmakers took steps to add stricter penalties for pesticide drift violations in the state. With a 5-0 vote, members of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee moved AB 1419 forward, signalling support for the health and safety of California farmworkers and farming communities.

Protections for farmworkers

The bill, which was authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), gives the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) authority to issue larger fines to companies that violate rules around pesticide spray and drift, endangering the health of farmworkers and surrounding communities.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The small cell wireless antenna legislation has seen some success nationwide, but it has also prompted local governments to voice concern around the loss of control.

Elizabeth Zima, Government Technology

To hear a wireless trade group tell it, deploying small cell antenna technology will enhance a city’s ability to compete in the next 5G technology race that pits the United States against the likes of China, the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

Small cell antennas are defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as low-powered wireless base stations that typically provide coverage for targeted indoor or localized outdoor areas ranging in size from homes and offices to stadiums, shopping malls, hospitals and urban outdoor spaces. The towers are roughly the size of a shoebox.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Two California state lawmakers Wednesday introduced a bill that would require hotels to provide housekeepers with a "panic button" to prevent violent assaults and sexual harassment.

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, jointly introduced the so-called hotel maid "panic button" bill with Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward. If it gets passed, it would make California the first in the nation to have a statewide law requiring hotels to provide employees working alone in guest rooms with a panic button.

Also, the California bill would impose a three-year ban for any guest accused of violence or sexual harassment against an employee and keep a list of those accusations for five years.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Maids and other hotel employees who find themselves alone in rooms with guests in a daily basis often face high incidents of sexual harassment, surveys have found.

And with the issue of sexual harassment casting a large shadow over the state Legislature this year, a bill co-authored by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk would require hotels to provide workers with panic buttons in the event their safety is at risk.

The bill, co-authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), was introduced Wednesday during the Legislature's first session of the new year.

In addition to mandating the use of panic buttons, typically easily concealed, hand-held communication devices, the bill requires hotels to maintain a list of guests banned due their indiscretions, provided the allegation includes a statement made under penalty of perjury, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

California lawmakers are exploring a bill that could help keep female hotel workers safer from sexual harassment. Many hotel workers in other major United States cities are already wearing a panic button. According to a recent survey of about 500 hotel workers, almost 50 percent reported some kind of sexual harassment of assault by guests, including men answering the door naked or assaulting the female workers in the room. Assembly member Bill Quirk of Hayward co-sponsored the bill, which is set to be introduced Thursday. If it becomes law, California hotels and motels would be required to provide hotel workers with the panic buttons. Sharon Katsuda reports (Published Wednesday, Jan 3, 2018)