AB 73, a Latino Legislative Caucus Priority Bill, Now Heads to the State Senate
Sacramento – Today, Assembly Bill 73, the Farmworker Wildfire Smoke Protections Act authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), passed off the Assembly Floor with a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Coming on the heels of the worst wildfire season in California’s history, this legislation will equip both agricultural employers and workers with tools and resources to reduce the harm caused by hazardous conditions associated with wildfire smoke.
“I am grateful to my colleagues for advancing this important legislation for our state’s essential agricultural workforce,” said Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Asm. Rivas. “Breathing in toxic smoke has been linked to increased rates of chronic heart and respiratory diseases, and without adequate protective equipment, our farmworkers risk lifelong debilitating illnesses. AB 73 will ensure a dedicated stockpile of N95 respirators for our farmworkers and will deploy Cal/OSHA strike teams to ensure employers are in compliance with Cal/OSHA regulations.”
AB 73 is joint-authored by Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), and Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella). Drafted in consultation with both industry and worker advocates, the bill has broad support from across the State.
Assemblymember Gonzalez said, “During wildfires, farmworkers put their lives on the line to make sure we all have food to put on the table. This work is more dangerous than ever as climate change causes the worst fires in this state’s history. It is crucial we pass this commonsense measure to ensure these essential workers, who are the backbone of our agricultural industry, have the resources and equipment they need to protect their health.”
Specifically, AB 73:
- ensures the state’s stockpile of N95 masks will be utilized for farmworkers during a wildfire outbreak;
- requires immediate deployment of specialized strike teams from each Cal/OSHA regional office during major unhealthy air quality events (wildfires);
- requires Cal/OSHA to develop and distribute information on wildfire safety to agricultural employees in Spanish and English and also via pictograms.