Just hours after the passage of SB 1 during the final day of the legislative session, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced he will veto SB 1 - a bill that would have jeopardized the use of voluntary settlement agreements (VSA's) or water-sharing agreements in the agriculture producing areas of the state.
Although Newsom had communicated his support of the principles behind SB 1, the Governor indicated the bill would have also tied the hands of the state by limiting the ability to rely on the best available science to protect the environment. The bill ran into significant opposition in the final days leading up to the late-night session that spanned 14 hours - finally adjourning after 3:00am on Saturday morning. As reported in several major news outlets, the bill was met by opposition after "powerful farm and water groups" including Western United Dairies, who voiced significant objections to the author and the Governor's senior staff during the last several weeks.
In a policy briefing earlier today with Western United Dairies, the California Cattlemen's Association and others, the Governor's Administration communicated their position that the State maintains the ability to protect its natural resources and is doing so through the Water Resiliency Portfolio. The Governor values the stakeholders who have come together to provide a unified approach and it was clear that elements contained in SB 1 did not match that vision.
Working throughout the evening and into the final hours of the legislative session, Western United Dairies and the California Cattlemen's Association's advocacy team conveyed to the Governor's office that SB 1 would circumvent the ability for the Administration to pursue Voluntary Settlement Agreements that require all parties to the come to the table to be part of a productive negotiation process. The legal uncertainties created by the bill would have inhibited the Administration's ability to reach a collaborative solution that protects the environment and gives certainty to farmers. This point was echoed by Senator Diane Feinstein and a Democratic group of California's congressional delegation in letter sent to the Governor and Senator Atkins last week (SB 1 Letter). These were hallmarks of the Governor's State of the State Address in January of this year.
We thank the Governor, his staff, the bi-partisan group of Assembly members and Senators who opposed SB 1. Western United Dairies remain committed to working with this Administration and all stakeholders to find collaborative solutions to our state's water challenges.