The Barbed Wire - April 7, 2017

April 7, 2017
Supervisor Adams Testifies in Support of RCRC-Sponsored Multi-County Assessment Appeals Board Legislation
Transportation Funding Package Headed to Governor
RCRC-Sponsored State PILT Legislation Moves Forward
Small Cell Bill Passes Out of First Committee
SWRCB Revises Enforcement Policy
“Dig Once” Taskforce Holds First Meeting
Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Further Expedite Oroville Dam Spillway Repairs
WOTUS Case Heads to SCOTUS, Despite Executive Order
Can the President Revoke National Monument Designations?
Veteran Access to Care
President Approves Major Disaster Declaration for California
RCRC Visits Nevada and Alpine Counties
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

Supervisor Adams Testifies in Support of RCRC-Sponsored Multi-County Assessment Appeals Board Legislation

On Wednesday, Supervisor Lee Adams (Sierra) testified before the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on behalf of RCRC in support of RCRC-sponsored Senate Bill 447, authored by Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama).  SB 447 authorizes two or more counties to jointly create one or more Assessment Appeals Boards to hear property tax assessment disputes.

Thanking Senator Nielsen for his leadership on this issue, Supervisor Adams also took the time to recognize Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) and Assembly Member Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) for their support as co-authors of the legislation. 

“My home Board continues to sit as the Sierra County Board of Equalization,” said Supervisor Adams.  “Since the real estate bubble burst of the last decade, we have locally seen an uptick in appeals.  We have also seen such appeals becoming increasingly complex, especially those which are non-residential, or are the result of non-open market transfers.  As a result, we have looked at the option of creating a separate Assessment Appeals Board.  Due to the increasingly complex issues involved, the membership of such a Board would be well suited to have those appointed possess some background and expertise in this discipline, yet also not involved in any particular transaction.  In a county of just 3,000, such conflicts can be tricky, and Senator Nielsen’s bill would allow for a greater pool of candidates to pull from.”

Supervisor Adams was joined by Supervisor Ron Hames (Alpine) in expressing support for SB 447.  SB 447 passed out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee (7-0), and will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  RCRC’s sponsorship letter can be accessed here.

Transportation Funding Package Headed to Governor

Late last night, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), a 10-year, $52 billion transportation plan, the largest overhaul of transportation funding in the state in more than 25 years.  The Senate voted 27-11, and the Assembly voted 54-26 – the bare minimum two-thirds margins required for a tax increase.  The voting occurred primarily on party line with all but one Democrat supporting the bill in the Assembly, and all Republicans voting “no.”  In the State Senate, all Democrats voted to support the bill, with the exception of Senator Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) voting “no," and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Stanislaus) voting “aye.” 

Governor Brown is expected to sign SB 1 into law in the coming days.  It should be noted that an accompanying Constitutional Amendment will be put before the voters in November of 2018.  This effort will help ensure that monies raised under SB 1 remain dedicated to transportation purposes. 

The $5 billion per year in new revenues will come from a 12-cent gasoline excise tax (effective November 2017), a new transportation improvement fee charged on vehicle registrations (based on the value of the vehicle), an additional $100 zero-emission vehicle fee (effective 2020), a 20-cent diesel excise tax (effective November 2017), and a 4 percent diesel sales tax increase.  The motor vehicle fuel tax increases will take effect in November.  The Governor stressed that the package comes with strict new accountability provisions to ensure funds can only be spent on transportation.

The proposed package allocates $3 billion per year to fix-it-first road and highway maintenance projects, split evenly between state and local governments. 

The RCRC Board of Directors voted to support SB 1 at its March meeting.  A copy of the support letter can be found here.

RCRC-Sponsored State PILT Legislation Moves Forward

This week, Senate Bill 58, authored by Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and sponsored by RCRC, successfully passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on “Consent.”  The legislation addressing State Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) was placed on the “Suspense File,” a holding spot for bills that are determined to have a cost of $150,000 or greater to the state. 

Senate Bill 58 seeks to amend Fish and Game Code to restore language that makes State PILT payments to counties required, as opposed to permissive, effective January 1, 2019, in an effort to ensure that future Administrations follow through on the State’s commitment to counties.  Further details on State PILT and RCRC’s advocacy efforts on the issue can be accessed here.

Small Cell Bill Passes Out of First Committee

Senate Bill 649, authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), unanimously passed out of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee Tuesday.  This bill, similar to last year’s Assembly Bill 2788 by former Assembly Member Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), would eliminate local consideration of the aesthetic and environmental impacts of “small cell” structures and require that those structures be allowed on public property in any zone in a city or county. 

Additionally, this bill would limit the rent a local government could charge a wireless company to place a small cell structure on public property.  RCRC, and a coalition of local government partners, have been in discussions with Legislators and legislative staff to share the extensive impacts of this bill on local governments.

SB 649 will be next be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee by the end of April. The text of the bill can be accessed here.

SWRCB Revises Enforcement Policy

Earlier this week, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted revisions to its Enforcement Policy (Policy), which guides statewide decision-making.  Initiated in 2016, the SWRCB's Office of Enforcement sought comments on revisions to the Policy, originally adopted in 2010, which prescribed penalties for violations of the Water Code/Clean Water Act. 

After much discussion, the regulatory community secured some beneficial changes to the draft policy relating to consistent and fair enforcement, prioritization of violations, and potential for harm.  Other areas of accommodation involved high volume discharges, and the history of violations.  Detailed information can be accessed here.

“Dig Once” Taskforce Holds First Meeting

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) held its first stakeholder meeting to discuss and develop procedures to facilitate the installation of broadband conduit on state highway right-of-ways.  Assembly Member Jim Wood authored AB 1549 (Chapter 505, Statutes of 2016) last year that required Caltrans to create guidelines that would increase collaboration on installing conduit on its highway projects.  AB 1549 also required Caltrans to post on its website department led highway construction projects in order for companies and organizations to partner with it on the installation of broadband conduit as part of those projects. 

Greater collaboration with local jurisdictions and allowing companies to partner with Caltrans to only “dig once” in placing broadband conduit greatly decreases the cost of broadband deployment projects and will allow more counties to install fiber optic cable.  RCRC will continue to engage in the development of the guidelines to ensure that our rural unserved and underserved areas have greater access to modern telecommunication technology.

Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Further Expedite Oroville Dam Spillway Repairs

Yesterday, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an executive order to further expedite the effort to repair the spillways at Oroville Dam before next winter, including actions to expedite permits, strengthen coordination between agencies and streamline regulations to continue the state’s rapid emergency response and recovery.  Read More…

WOTUS Case Heads to SCOTUS, Despite Executive Order

A legal challenge against the Waters of the United States Rule (Rule), also known as WOTUS, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court (Court) despite a recent U.S. Department of Defense motion to hold the Court’s briefing schedule in abeyance.  The motion was part of a larger effort to pause a decision on the Rule, as it is under review as part of President Trump’s February Executive Order that is likely to result in changes to the Rule or an outright repeal.  The motion was opposed by both industry and environmental groups, however, and was denied by the Court with no explanation on April 3, 2017.  Petitioner’s briefs on the case are currently due on April 13, and actions on the case will continue for several months. 

The WOTUS Rule has been controversial since its introduction, with many stakeholders, including RCRC, opposing it as a jurisdictional overreach and inappropriate expansion of federal authority over bodies of water not previously controlled by the federal government.  The rulemaking process itself was also derided as insufficient for receiving meaningful input from state and local governments, and even unlawful as the Government Accountability Office ruled EPA’s social media campaign seeking public support for the Rule to be “covert propaganda.”  A number of lawsuits were filed once the Rule was finalized, and attempts have also been made to block implementation through the federal budget process.  Implementation of the Rule is currently enjoined until the Court reaches a final decision on the pending legal case.

Can the President Revoke National Monument Designations?

In recent weeks, Washington D.C. has speculated on rumors of a forthcoming Executive Order from President Trump detailing his authorities under the Antiquities Act of 1906.  An upcoming Executive Order could revoke some, if not all, of the Bears Ears National Monument designation.  The Bears Ears National Monument was controversially designated by President Obama just before leaving office and covered 1.35 million acres in southern Utah. 

The White House could be taking their cues from a recent report written by the American Enterprise Institute and the Pacific Legal Foundation.  The report, supported by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and House Natural Resources Chair Bob Bishop (R-UT), detailed how past legal opinion on the President’s authority to revoke monument designations failed to accurately account for bill text and historical constitutional principles of Presidential discretion.  The joint report suggests the basic constitutional tenant that no President can bind a future President’s authorities, which would prevent National Monument designations from becoming permanent.

Though sources close to the President have confirmed the Executive Order is being prepared, the White House has not officially confirmed the rumors.  The Executive Order could be released as early as this month.

Veteran Access to Care

This week, Congress passed S. 544 to extend the Veterans Choice Program.  The Veterans Choice Program provides veterans with access to health care at facilities outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which is important to many veterans in rural counties. 

The legislation would eliminate the sunset date of the VA program currently set to expire on August 7, 2017, and let the program operate until funds are no longer available for the program.  The program was originally started in 2014 to address challenges veterans faced with appropriate access to care through the VA.  The White House has not issued an official position on the bill, but is expected to sign the bill into law.

President Approves Major Disaster Declaration for California

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the State of California to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides from February 1 to February 23, 2017.  Read More…

RCRC Visits Nevada and Alpine Counties

On March 28, 2017, RCRC President and CEO Greg Norton, RCRC Vice President of External Affairs / Administration Justin Caporusso, and RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocate Staci Heaton provided an organizational overview and update on the Governmental Affairs team’s 2017/18 legislative and regulatory priorities to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.  This Tuesday, Mr. Norton, joined by RCRC Vice President of Governmental Affairs Paul A. Smith, and RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocate Mary Pitto presented before the Alpine County Board of Supervisors. 

Mr. Norton provided an update on RCRC’s affiliate programs, Golden State Finance Authority, and National Homebuyers Fund, and give back programs related to veterans housing, human trafficking education, and disaster assistance.  RCRC staff discussed the current status of legislative and regulatory efforts related to disadvantaged communities, State Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), local marijuana taxes, multi-county Assessment Appeals Boards, the IHSS cost shift, funding for state and local transportation needs, and wildfire funding, among others.  The team also discussed the Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority, and outlined the myriad resources available for RCRC member counties.

A synopsis of RCRC’s 2017-18 legislative priorities can be accessed in a recent article from Supervisor Williams, titled The Year Ahead for California’s Rural Counties.

KEEPING UP

Joe Yun Announced Executive Officer of California Water Commission

Click here

BULLETIN BOARD

NACo Launches New Civic Education Resources

Click here

2017 California Financing Coordinating Committee Funding Fairs

Click here

Resilience Planning Grant Opportunity: Focus on Wildfire

Click here

Kern County Seeks Planner I/II

Click here

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

RCRC members are encouraged to share letters addressed to state and federal representatives and regulatory bodies with RCRC’s Government Affairs staff.  Click “Read More” to access information related to the current status of legislation impacting California’s rural counties. 

Assembly Bill 148 (Mathis): California Physician Corps Program: Practice Setting.  Assembly Bill 148 would revise the definition of “practice setting”, outlined within OSHPDs guidelines for the Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program (Program), and lower the threshold from 50% to 30% of patients in rural areas.  The Program provides financial incentives to physicians and surgeons who agree to practice in a medically underserved area.  Status: AB 148 awaits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 174 (Bigelow): California Transportation Commission (CTC): Membership.  Assembly Bill 174 would require that at least one voting member serving on the CTC reside in a rural county with a population less than 100,000 individuals.  Status: AB 174 awaits action in the Assembly Transportation Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 179 (Cervantes): California Transportation Commission (CTC).  Assembly Bill 179 would require that six voting members of the CTC have specified qualifications.  Additionally, this bill would require that the CTC create an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, comprised of at least five members, to advise the CTC in its allocation and programming of transportation monies and other transportation policy matters.  Status: AB 179 awaits action in the Assembly Transportation Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose Unless Amended

Assembly Bill 196 (Bigelow): Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: Water Supply. Assembly Bill 196 would authorize the use of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds (GGRF) for water and wastewater systems if the investment furthers the regulatory purposes of the act and is consistent with law. With this bill, water supply investments, including repairs, pump and motor efficiency improvements, drinking water transmission and distribution system water loss, and wastewater systems, would be specifically eligible for funding.  Status: AB 196 awaits action in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 211 (Bigelow): State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fees.  Assembly Bill 211 would require the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to provide an annual report to the Legislature which itemizes each expenditure on the State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fire Prevention Fee indefinitely.  Status: AB 211 awaits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 255 (Gallagher): Sexually Violent Predators: Out of County Placement. Assembly Bill 255 would require the court to consider additional factors when determining the county of placement for a sexually violent predator outside the county of domicile.  Additionally, the bill would provide that if those factors do not identify a suitable county for conditional release that is not the county of domicile, the county of conditional release is the county in which the person was arrested for the crime for which he or she was last incarcerated in the state prison or from which he or she was last returned from parole.  Status: AB 255 awaits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 275 (Wood): Long-Term Care Facilities: Requirements for Changes. Assembly Bill 275 would expand the notice and planning requirements that a skilled nursing facility provides before any change in the status of license or in the operation of the facility that results in its inability to care for its residents.  Status: AB 275 awaits action in the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 288 (Obernolte): State Responsibility Areas: Fire Prevention Fees.  Assembly Bill 288 would extend the period for paying a Fire Prevention Fee from 30 days to 60 days from the date of the assessment by the State Board of Equalization. Status: AB 288 awaits action in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 376 (Chavez): Veteran’s Benefits: Veteran Farmers or Ranchers.  Assembly Bill would require the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, in coordination with other state agencies to identify and disseminate specified information to assist veterans in entering farming or ranching careers.  Status: AB 376 awaits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 425 (Caballero): Timber Harvesting Plans: Exemptions.  Assembly Bill 425 would expand the Forest Fire Prevention Pilot Project Exemption to allow the construction or reconstruction of temporary roads on slopes of 40 percent or less if certain conditions are met, including that a registered professional forester designates temporary road locations, associated class III watercourse crossings, and unstable areas, on specified maps.  Status: AB 425 awaits action in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 524 (Bigelow): Personal Income Tax: Deduction: Remove Dead and Dying Trees. Assembly Bill 524 would allow a personal income tax deduction for expenses paid or incurred by a taxpayer in the taxable year in connection with the removal of a dead or dying tree on real property owned by the taxpayer. Status: AB 524 awaits action in the Assembly.  Status: Support

Assembly Bill 583 (Wood): Emergency Medical Air Transportation.  Assembly Bill 583 would extend the dates of the Emergency Medical Air Transportation Act, so that the assessment of the penalties will terminate commencing January 1, 2028, and any monies unexpended and unencumbered in the Emergency Medical Air Transportation Act Fund on June 30, 2029, will transfer to the General Fund.  The bill would extend the operation of the Emergency Medical Air Transportation Act until January 1, 2030.  Status: AB 583 awaits action in the Assembly Health Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 771 (Quirk): Burning of Forest Lands: Forest Land Owners.  Assembly Bill 771 would require CalFIRE, in consultation with the Air Resources Board, to develop a page on its website that provides pertinent information on prescribed burn regulations.  This measure would also require the department to develop a uniform prescribed burn template that would provide information regarding best management practices associated with the planning and implementation of a prescribed burn.  Status: AB 771 awaits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 920 (Aguiar-Curry): California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program.  Assembly Bill 920 would require, for the compliance period ending December 31, 2024, and for each compliance period thereafter, that not less than 20% of the electricity products procured by a retail seller through renewable energy resource contracts executed on or after June 1, 2010, are for renewable baseload generation, as defined, and meet a specified product content requirement.  Status: AB 920 awaits action in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1066 (Aguiar-Curry): Public Works: Definition.  Assembly Bill 1066 which would revise the definition of the term “demolition” as it relates to public works to include tree removal for the purposes of payment of prevailing wages. Status: AB 1066 awaits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Concerns

Assembly Bill 1342 (Flora): Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: Appropriation. Assembly Bill 1342 would appropriate money from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for healthy forest programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions causes by uncontrolled wildfires. Status: AB 1342 awaits action in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1433 (Wood): Climate Adaptation and Resilience Based on Nature.  Assembly Bill 1433 would create the Climate Adaptation and Resilience Based on Nature Account in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Status: AB 1433 awaits action in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 9 (Gaines): State Responsibility Areas: Fires Prevention Fees.  Senate Bill 9 would repeal the imposition of State Responsibility Area fees upon structure owners.  Status: SB 9 awaits action in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 188 (Jackson): Emergency Management Assistance Compact.  Senate Bill 188 would extend the sunset date of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.  Status: SB 188 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 222 (Hernandez): Inmates: Health Care Enrollment. Senate Bill 222 will extend the suspension of Medi-Cal benefits to incarcerated individuals until they are released, regardless of the length of their incarceration time.  Status: SB 222 awaits action in the Senate Health Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 339 (Roth): Veterans Treatment Courts: Judicial Council Assessment.  Senate Bill 339 would require the Judicial Council to report to the Legislature on a study of veterans and veterans treatment courts that includes a statewide assessment, as specified, of veterans treatment courts currently in operation and a survey of counties that do not operate veterans treatment courts that identifies barriers to program implementation and assesses the need for veterans treatment courts in those counties, if funds are received for that purpose.  Status: SB 339 awaits action in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 563 (Lara): Residential Wood Smoke.  Senate Bill 563 would establish the Woodsmoke Reduction Program to replace old wood-burning stoves with cleaner and more efficient alternatives. Status: SB 563 awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 577 (Dodd): Public Postsecondary Education: Community College.  SB 577 would allow community college districts to offer a teacher credentialing program. Status: SB 563 awaits action in the Senate Education Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 708 (Skinner): Supplemental Security Income & CalFresh: Pre-enrollment.  Senate Bill 708 would require the State Department of Social Services, on or before March 31, 2018, to request a waiver to allow for the pre-enrollment of otherwise eligible applicants to the CalFresh program up to one month prior to the applicant’s reentry into the community from a county jail or state prison.  Status: SB 708 awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC members are encouraged to submit comments on regulatory matters to state and federal regulatory bodies, and to provide a copy to RCRC’s Government Affairs staff.  Click “Read More” to access information related to the current status of regulations impacting California’s rural counties. 

The 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update.  The 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update: The Proposed Strategy for Achieving California’s 2030 Greenhouse Gas Target, builds upon the framework adopted in the initial Scoping Plan and the 2014 Update by establishing recommendations and priorities for the State to achieve its 2030 climate goals.  Agency: Air Resources Board (ARB) Status: The 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update was released January 20, 2017, with comments due by March 6, 2017.  Two informational hearings were conducted on January 27 and February 16, 2017 in Sacramento.  The 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update will be considered at the April 27 and 28, 2017 ARB monthly meeting.  The 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update, hearing schedules and other related documents can be accessed hereRCRC Comments: Click here RCRC Advocates: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org and Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Draft 2017 Update to the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP).  The CVFPP is a long-range plan for improving flood risk management in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river Basins.  The plan provides a comprehensive framework for system-wide management and flood risk reduction planning and is required to update every five years.  This first update refines the overall near and long-term investment needs established in the CVFPP, and includes recommendations on policies and financing that support comprehensive flood risk management actions locally, regionally, and system-wide.  Agency: Department of Water Resources Status: The draft was released on December 30, 2016, with comments due by March 31, 2017.  Five public outreach hearings were held in February and March 2017 throughout the Central Valley.  The CVFP Board will be holding six workshops in April, May, and June 2017.  The draft update, draft Supplemental Program EIS, and scheduled workshop details can be accessed hereRCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Proposed Public Assistance Program Disaster Deductible Rulemaking.  The proposed rulemaking describes a conceptual deductible program, including a methodology for calculating deductible amounts based upon a state’s fiscal capacity and disaster risk, and a credit structure to reward States for investing in emergency management activities such as readiness, preparedness, mitigation, and resilience.  Agency: Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Status: Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) comments are due on April 12, 2017.  The supplemental ANPR can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: RCRC is seeking member county input.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org