After offering poison pill amendments to undermine the purpose of SB 1308 (Caballero), which is the measure to strengthen Buy American provisions for school food procurement, the Assembly Education Committee removed the bill from the hearing calendar, and it was not considered this week.

This move was taken even though SB 1308 has received unanimous, bipartisan support, earning approval from three policy committees, a fiscal committee and approval by consent in the State Senate.

SB 1308 would strengthen and clarify the Buy American provision for public school meals. Given California sets some of the most ambitious environmental and labor standards on businesses in the world, SB 1308 is intended to safeguard those values and provide that taxpayer dollars be used to purchase food that meets those high standards, as well as ensure school children are consuming food of the highest quality and safety.

Despite the unanimous support from legislators, so far, and a unique partnership between agricultural groups and labor to collaborate on the bill, the committee did not want to add any new standards on schools and misconstrued the costs relating to the bill.

Bill author Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) had accepted other reasonable amendments in good faith during consideration of the measure in prior committees. However, this committee’s amendments were unacceptable and intentionally written to gut the bill at the behest of the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators who oppose the bill. Without agreement on the amendments, the committee chose to remove SB 1308 from the hearing agenda on June 29, rather than allowing it to be considered.

Ag Council President Emily Rooney said, “Though not the outcome we sought, Ag Council appreciates Senator Caballero’s resolve in rejecting untenable amendments and thanks her for the tenacious work on this effort. We know agriculture has a meaningful partner in her – not only on this policy issue, but on other issues affecting the agricultural sector.”

“Ag Council is disappointed SB 1308 is not proceeding in its current form at this time. However, Ag Council will continue to seek out opportunities to advance related policies understanding its importance to many of our members,” Rooney said.