SCGA Public Affairs


Monday, October 30, 2023

Our last “Update” detailed the one piece of water legislation (AB 1572 – Proscription upon the use of potable water to irrigate nonfunctional turf) that we considered the most positively impactful to the statewide golf community to get signed into law in the 2023 legislative session – “positively impactful” because golf is specifically referenced as “recreational” and/or “functional” turf exempt from the proscription, language sure to be copied and pasted into all sorts of future bills and regulations, not just at the state level, but at the local and regional levels as well.

Previous updates detailed what we believe to be the opening of a long process to upend the senior water rights conferred in 1850, 1873, and 1913 to reflect the radically changed circumstances of modernity – that opening being SB 389, a new law that gives the state the data and reach it will need to determine whether a water right is valid, otherwise understood by many as the first step to enforcing or vitiating those rights. AB 460 and AB 1337 are parallels that didn’t quite make it through the 2023 session but are in process of being substantially amended to make credible 2-year bill runs in January 2024. We’ll be eagerly watching. Whether they make it through that tight window or not, we expect them and other similar bills to be filed and refiled in the 2024 session and beyond.

Another bright spot for golf was AB 363 – a bill signed into law that establishes neonicotinoids as substances banned unless applied by “licensed applicators.” The 2022 version of the bill, which was vetoed by Governor Newsom, allowed application only by agricultural licensed applicators. The signed 2023 version allows application by all licensed applicators, which allows the California golf community to continue their use, which though limited, can be important at certain times and in certain places. Kudos to the GCSAA, which lobbied hard for the 2023 version that Governor Newsom signed.

As we suggested in an earlier “Update” entitled, “Heeding Labor’s Roar,” California is in the throes of a massive recalibration of the rules governing worker’s wages, benefits, and rights in strong favor of labor. The “roar” didn’t extend all the way to SB 799 becoming law, because Governor Newsom vetoed the last-minute gut-and-amend bill that would have granted striking workers unemployment benefits. But here are the bills the Governor did sign in the 2023 session:

AB 1 – Collective bargaining: legislature. Enacted the Legislature Employer-Employee Relations Act, to provide employees of the Legislature, except certain specified categories of excluded employees, the right to form, join, and participate in the activities of employee organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of representation on all matters of employer-employee relations.

AB 621 – Workers’ compensation: special death benefit. Expands an exemption to include state safety members, peace officers, and firefighters for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection who are members of Bargaining Unit 8 and would apply the exemption for these employees retroactively to January 1, 2019, for injuries not previously claimed or resolved.

AB 1228 – Gives raises to fast food workers - $20/hr.

SB 332 – Minor league baseball player bargaining agreement. Ensures a collective bargaining agreement for minor league baseball, guaranteeing better wages and benefits for more than 360 California minor league players, such as housing, health care, and compensation, including in the regular season, spring training, and the off-season.

SB 497 – Reduces retaliation against workers who have filed wage claim or unequal wage complaint.

SB 525 - $25/hr. Healthcare workers.

SB 616 – Add paid sick days. Amends California’s paid sick leave law to expand mandatory paid sick leave from three days or twenty-four hours to five days or forty hours.

Expect more of the same in 2024. While golf has punched way above its political weight on those matters directly related to the game, e.g., AB 672, AB 1910, and AB 2257 in previous legislative sessions and AB 1572 and AB 363 in the just concluded 2023 session, it isn’t a productive use of golf’s limited time and even more limited resources to engage as heavily on bills that affect all businesses in California. The game is irrelevant in a space dominated by the California Chamber of Commerce, various local/regional business chambers and roundtables, not to mention specific sectors that dwarf golf in economic reach and impact. However, it often makes sense to support the efforts of these larger entities through membership in their ranks or as part of large diverse coalitions, so long as the effort doesn’t otherwise detract from the game’s greater framing and positioning strategies.

Archived Updates

Opposition to Assembly Bill 1910

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CGCOA Golf is Good Ambassador Program

Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.

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FORE - Public Affairs

FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.

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It isn’t often that one bill can highlight all that separates one side of California’s great water divide from the other – from those interests fixated on conservation as the focus of future supply and those intent on pursuing a more diversified portfolio – from those who are often accused of believing that California can conserve its way out of its aridification predicament and those who are convinced that if conservation is the only tool in the state’s water resiliency toolbox, California is doomed to be hollowed out in much the same way rust belt cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit were in the last quarter of the 20th Century.

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Charles Dickens’ famous opening of “A Tale of Two Cities” comes to mind as a good descriptor of where California’s water situation and golf’s place in it stands after back-to-back record precipitation years: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...".

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Four Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion yesterday that seeks to crack down on what the motion describes as “black-market tee time brokers” who book and resell city golf course tee times for profit.

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When introduced by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) February 16, AB 3192 contained a provision that would have banned the use of all nonorganic pesticides and fertilizers on golf resorts in California’s Coastal Zone.

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A cautionary tale from semi-rural Santa Barbara County to remind you that the pressure to repurpose golf courses is not just a phenomenon in California’s densely packed urban cores.

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The National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) Harvey Silverman may have characterized the City of Los Angeles’ uncommonly quick reaction to intense media scrutiny (five separate Los Angeles Times stories including a Sunday lead editorial) of the depredations of tee time brokering with his quip in the organization’s “Golf Business Weekly” about the city having reacted “faster than fixing potholes.”

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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.

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