Human Rights Update

Judge, Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the US District Court in Oakland, on Sunday granted a request by more than a dozen states to temporarily block the Trump administration from putting into effect new rules that would make it easier for employers to deny women health insurance coverage for contraceptives. 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

New Laws in California for 2019

Farm Employee Overtime

In 2016, California became the first state in the U.S. to require employers to pay overtime for farmworkers who work more than eight hours. The first phase of the new rules will begin in January, when agricultural employees will earn overtime after working 9 1/2 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week. Currently, California farmworkers can get overtime after working 60 hours in a week or 10 hours in a day.  The change only applies to businesses that employ at least 26 people. The rules do not apply to smaller agricultural employers until 2022. Discloser, our office consults with agricultural employers on compliance matters and we represent employees on wage and labor claims. Aside from wage and hour claims, sexual harassment and discrimination are constant concerns on the farm. 

Street Vendor Permits

A law going into effect in January will allow local governments to design permit programs for vendors and limits when they can be criminally prosecuted. It pertains to anyone selling food or other merchandise from a pushcart, stand or “non-motorized conveyance.” I anticipate the City of Eureka will embrace this new law and its economic benefits. I predict the County will ignore this law until the County is forced to follow it by a judge.  

Home Kitchen Businesses

A new law encourages Counties (like Humboldt) to permit home kitchens for the purpose of selling food products. California Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, who authored the bill, says that homemade food sales are a vital part of self-reliant communities. “Legitimizing these home businesses will offer a means of economic empowerment and pathways for many to achieve the ‘American dream,’” Garcia said when the bill was signed. Humboldt historically resists new opportunities which provide residents access to residual income. Perhaps after the County Supervisors election in 2020 progress will be made on this front.  

Fred Fletcher

January 17, 2019

The Measure S Lawsuit

Measure S is the cannabis cultivation tax the voters passed. We are challenging the County Supervisor's decision to amend Measure S as passed by the voters. The Supervisors amended the tax to apply to the property owner, not the farmer, and regardless of whether any crop is grown.  

Yesterday, we filed our response to the County's demurrer to the Measure S lawsuit. (Set to be heard January 28, 2019.) The County hired a large Sacramento Firm (founded the year I was born) to defend the lawsuit. They argue it's impossible to tax farmers for the actual crop grown because the County can't verify how much was grown. We informed the Court, governments since the beginning of governments have taxed farmers for crops actually grown, and we cited the Book of Genesis as our evidence.  

The amendments by the Supervisors have been misreported. The Supervisors amended Measure S to tax the permitted area regardless of the amount of crop grown.  As such, the supervisors have amended the tax to be assessed against fallow land, without regard to crop grown. We provided the Court authority that Measure S as amended is a property tax and is unconstitutional. We ask the Court to return Measure S to its original state which acted as an excise tax on legal crop actually grown. 

We will update this one. 

Fred Fletcher

January 15, 2019

Humboldt's Censorship Problem

Our law library has dozens of reference books about criminal law, and I could only find one book about constitutional rights limited to 42 U.S.C § 1983 civil rights cases, a small subsection of constitutional law. Civil rights provide the platform for civil redress which is the alternative to violence.

We decided as a community to center ourselves around our jail, instead of a school, a library, museum, or performing arts theater. Our county supervisors meet at the same building as our jail, which sends a chilling message to anyone wanting to speak on the public agenda, especially federal outlaws. Our prison is being expanded to the tune of $25 million, give or take a dime, meanwhile our schools are in a financial crisis.  The Humboldt establishment's response, is to stay positive and cheery. 

  

County Supervisor's Can't Silence Critics, including Humboldt's Supervisors. 

In a 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Brian Davison by banning him for 12 hours from her “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” facebook page.

Last election my office received a few complaints from citizens who were censored for making comments critical of politicians, on the left and right (somehow our local politics are becoming politically polarized). Now these citizens may have recourse. This First Amendment decision could impact local elections nationwide by allowing the public to be heard.    

Fred Fletcher

January 8, 2019

Update on Nation v Trump filed in the 9th Circuit

This lawsuit challenges HUD's rule which forces subsidized apartments to evict medical cannabis users. Plaintiff was evicted from her HUD apartment on July 10, 2018 when a maintenance man discovered some medical cannabis in her bedroom. She remains homeless and is not alone.

The lawsuit not only challenges HUD's rule but relies upon Murphy v NCAA (decided May 2018) to challenge the constitutionality of the Controlled Substance Act itself relative to medical marijuana in the State of California. The Supreme Court in Murphy v NCAA resurrected from near death the anti-commandeering doctrine, which in laymen's terms means the Congress cannot make orders directly to the States. 

We are optimistic this lawsuit will prevail. If the District Court issues an order in our favor appealing the decision would pose a political pitfall for the Trump administration. 

I will update this one.

January 3, 2019

Fred Fletcher 

Update on Volkswagen Diesel Fraud Case

We filed an action in Butte County on May 17, 2018 with the intent of having a jury decide punitive damages. We would be the first party to bring the defeat device case to jury trial.  Peer reviewed studies proved thousands of people with lung diseases died from the fraud.  

 

Wine Industry Concerns by Fortune

Posted by DeLacy Fletcher on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 Under: Business
The U.S. wine industry is poised for another banner year in 2017. Sales are projected to rise by as much as 6% and the total harvest in California—by far the largest wine-producing state—should climb 7% to nearly 4 million tons crushed. The coveted millennial generation is increasingly paying more attention to wines.

Those trends all imply that the wine industry is crushing it. Higher sales, mostly fueled by "premium" priced wines at $9 or higher, bode well for big producers like E&J Gallo Winery, The Wine Group and Constellation Brands (STZ, -0.02%).

But wine producers are increasingly focused on two lingering concerns that they worry can be problematic headwinds: Labor shortages during the harvest season and the threat of legalized marijuana as an alternative to wines. "Farm labor supply and costs will be the dominant concerns in the wine business in 2017," says Rob McMillan, who authored Silicon Valley Bank's annual "State of the Wine Industry" report.

Labor Shortage


For several years now, the California wine industry has faced challenges employing enough skilled laborers during the harvest season. Traditionally, Golden State wine makers relied on the flow of migrant workers from Mexico—often men in their 20s through 40s in age that have had experience working on farms. Those workers would come to California for the spring for the harvest, spend about six months working in the United States, then return to Mexico in the off season.

But the flow of workers coming north from Mexico has slowed the past several years. "We don't have the resources," says Duff Bevill, who serves on the board of Sonoma County Grapegrowers. He says that while the number of wine grape growing acres in the county has remained steady at around 60,000 since the financial crisis, the availability of labor has been consistently shrinking.

Marijuana's threat

Beyond the pressure on the work force, some wine producers expressed worries about the threat of competition from drugs that are a substitute to wine. Specifically, they are worried about the movement by several states to legalize cannabis. As of today, eight states—including California—and D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use. More than a dozen additional states have approved the drug for medical use. Americans and Canadians have spent an estimated $53.3 billion on marijuana annually, with legal purchases on the rise.

That's led some observers to fret that sales could decrease for alcoholic beverages. Cowen & Co. analyst Vivien Azer issued a widely cited report late last year that said there were signs cannabis sales were hurting demand for beer across several states where marijuana was legal. Domestic big beer brands like Bud Light and Coors Light appeared to face the greatest competitive threat to cannabis, while imported beers looked the most immune.

Wine producers are worried their industry could see a slowdown as well. If the trend were to mirror what some are claiming is happening in the beer world, lower priced wines could see the greatest dent to sales. Fine wines, which are often consumed for special occasions and often at expensive restaurants, will likely be less hurt by the rise of marijuana."It is too soon to call," McMillan said. "People don't drink wine to get high, they smoke marijuana to get high. I don't think it will hurt demand."

Read more here.



In : Business 


Tags: california  wine  northern california  marijuana  labor  cannabis  sales  farm labor 

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