Feb. 15, 2019 – Late January saw the introduction of separate bills designed to legalize the current improperly-documented agricultural workforce and also to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule.
The “Agricultural Worker Program Act” would allow farmworkers to earn a “blue card” that provides legal status while they work in agriculture. Among the initial requirements, farmworkers must be able to prove that they have worked at least 100 hours in agriculture over the past two years.
Companion House and Senate bills are sponsored by Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). They seek to mirror a portion of the agriculture reform bill that passed the Senate six years ago as part of a larger comprehensive bill.
Also, Congresswoman Herrera-Beutler (R-Washington) and Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) introduced HR 667. The bill would repeal the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule issued under the Obama Administration and also amend the definition of navigable waters.
Similar actions have been taken via federal rulemaking by the Administration. The current proposed rule is open for public comment after a previous repeal of the WOTUS definition was blocked by federal court rulings.