Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Article provided by the SCGA

AB 3192 – Rest in Peace Maybe

Every year there seems to be one bill filed in one house of the California Legislature that keeps the California golf community up at night. This year’s version is AB 3192 (Muratsuchi; D-Torrance). Among many other things AB 3192 places a 100% ban on the use of all non-organic pesticides and fertilizers on “golf resorts” in the California Coastal Zone. We believe the way the bill defines “golf resort” ensnares PGA Tour and major professional and college championship sites such as Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, and Omni La Costa in its proscriptions. It ensnares some prominent golf facilities in Orange and San Mateo Counties as well.

We can sleep again, maybe.

AB 3192 appeared to have failed to make it past its first committee of reference yesterday when it fell one vote short of the six votes necessary to move out of the 11-member Natural Resources Committee and on to its second committee of reference, the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Because the three Republican members of the Committee were declared “no” votes in advance of the meeting, six of the eight Democratic members needed to vote “aye” for the bill to move. However, three of them stayed off the bill – Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), and Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz). Significantly, Buffy Wicks is Chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee and Jim Wood is Speaker Pro Tempore.

We say, “appeared to have failed,” because it now appears that sometime well after the members departed the committee room, bill author Muratsuchi was granted reconsideration and is likely trying to convince one of his colleagues who stayed off the bill to switch his or her vote to aye and move the bill forward to Judiciary.

The allied California golf community in the form of the California Alliance for Golf (CAG) worked with myriad other interests to inform legislators of the unnecessary and unintended consequences of a total ban on all non-organic inputs at these golf facilities, one of which is set to host five (5) United States Open Championships (three men & two women) in the next 16 years. We were in the process of moving forward an amendment that would have allowed for measured and regulated use of certain non-organic fertilizers and pesticides when the bill apparently failed to move. Should it indeed move on reconsideration, we remain optimistic that some form of this amendment, which had already gained considerable traction, can move forward with it. In any case, what happened at yesterday’s Natural Resources Committee hearing doesn’t bode well for the ultimate success of the bill.

Other than a pair of Assembly-Senate bills that propose making California a year-round Standard Time state, the rest of the game’s Sacramento agenda is all about support of certain bills – in particular one (AB 2947) that would encourage the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to provide funding for turf conversion in addition to turf removal and another (AB 2285) that would focus more funding on parks, green spaces, and recreational amenities in the state’s dense urban areas. AB 2947 dovetails with golf’s ongoing conversations with multiple water wholesalers and retailers in Southern California – conversations that for the most part have been well received and productive. AB 2285 dovetails with the game’s increasing passion for providing overt support for those municipal and developmental golf courses that are in the state’s “underserved” communities and are the literal staging grounds for almost all of the game’s growth, sustenance, and diversification programs.