Senate committee gives nod to bill that would prohibit disclosure of businesses regulated by new council

The Senate Agriculture Committee this week unanimously approved legislation that, in establishing a new state agency, would make secret the list of cattle producers and other cattle affiliated businesses subject to the agency’s authority. The vote was 4-0 with one abstention.

SB 965 by Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) would prohibit the California Cattle Council from disclosing the names and addresses of the businesses regulated by the council unless a court order was issued allowing the disclosure.

The legislation also would create liability for those associated with the council who disparage the quality, value, use, or sale of any commodity authorized by law to be marketed in California.

CNPA opposed the bill in committee arguing that there is no justification for prohibiting the disclosure of those who would be regulated by the Council. CNPA also argued that it would be bad public policy to create liability for disparaging statements that would prohibit the council from sharing information in its possession about contaminated meat or the spread of a bacterial disease with the public or other government agencies that threaten the public’s health.

The measure would also prohibit the disclosure of “proprietary information’ that is undefined.

The author told the committee he was committed to working with CNPA to address its concerns and after the hearing offered to meet with staff to discuss potential amendments.

The bill will next be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee sometime in the next few weeks.