The Barbed Wire - August 11, 2017

August 11, 2017
RCRC’s 2017 Annual Meeting: Register Today!!!
RCRC Visits Mono and Madera Counties
Counties Cannabis Summit: Video and Presentations Now Available
CDBG Program Redesign Framing Paper
Forest Management Proposal in the Farm Bill
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Discusses Water Infrastructure and Wildfire Prevention
Farm Bill Update
RCRC Rural Photo Contest
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC’s 2017 Annual Meeting: Register Today!!!

RCRC’s 2017 Annual Meeting will be held September 27-29 at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel in El Dorado County.  This year’s program will feature experts discussing a wide range of topics of interest to rural counties, including:

  • Daylight Saving – It’s Time for the Discussion
  • The Opioid Crisis in California’s Rural Counties
  • A Rural Way of Life – Healthy of Harmful?
  • Unfairly Labeled?  The Debate over Intergenerational Dynamics
  • Emergency Preparedness and Recovery – Lessons Learned from the Oroville Spillway Disaster

Registration is now open via the online portal.  Read More…

RCRC Visits Mono and Madera Counties

On Tuesday, RCRC Chair Bob Williams (Tehama) and RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Mary-Ann Warmerdam provided an organizational overview and update to the Madera County Board of Supervisors.  On August 1, 2017, RCRC Vice President of Governmental Affairs Paul A. Smith and RCRC Governmental Affairs Counsel Arthur Wylene presented before the Mono County Board of Supervisors on issues involving cannabis.  

In Madera, RCRC staff provided an overview of RCRC’s legislative and regulatory efforts, ranging from expanding the definition of disadvantaged communities, to State Payment in Lieu of Taxes payments, local cannabis schemes, forest health, and the In-Home Supportive Services cost shift.  A summary of the Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority, the Golden State Finance Authority, and the National Homebuyers Fund activities was also provided.  In addition, RCRC Chair Williams provided a summary of the recent National Association of Counties’ Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. 

In Mono, RCRC staff provided an update on the status of California law as it relates to the cannabis landscape, including much discussion regarding the land-use, planning, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) obligations of local governments involved in commercial cannabis activities.  

Counties Cannabis Summit: Video and Presentations Now Available

Last month, RCRC, CSAC, and UCC joined efforts to host the 2017 Counties Cannabis Summit.  The invite-only program examined how various cannabis issues impact county government, and more than 200 county supervisors, administrators, and staff attended the event.  Read More…

CDBG Program Redesign Framing Paper

The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is initiating a process to redesign the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to meet federal requirements, reflect budgetary shortages, address low expenditure rates and high levels of unspent program income, and comply with Senate Bill 106, which expressed legislative intent for improving the CDBG program, and directed HCD to engage in specific activities to address stakeholder concerns.  

HCD has released a CDBG Proposed Program Redesign Framing Paper to provide a framework for the redesign process.  This Framing Paper describes the current CDBG program, provides background for the 2017 redesign, identifies the goals and challenges of the redesign, and describes the redesign process and timeline. 

The 2017 CDBG redesign will result in new CDBG program guidelines and will be developed in partnership with the CDBG Advisory Committee.  HCD is currently completing the formation of a Redesign Working Group, which is expected to begin meeting in late August.  Listening sessions are planned for August and September throughout the state.

Forest Management Proposal in the Farm Bill

While members of the House Agriculture Committee took advantage of the recess to conduct their listening tour on the 2018 Farm Bill, their counterparts in the Senate have new legislation to consider.  Senator John Thune (R-SD), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced The Forest Management Improvement Act, his fifth legislative proposal for the 2018 Farm bill.  

The bill removes red tape implemented by the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA), which inhibits the United States Forest Service’s ability to prevent and control forest fires.  Thune’s bill would increase the acreage allowed for a categorical exclusion under NEPA from 3,000 to 10,000, improve the environmental review process to streamline the salvaging of dead and dying trees, and expand Insect and Disease Treatment Areas.  In addition to updating NEPA, Senator Thune’s legislation includes alternative arbitration mechanisms to avoid the costly litigation commonly associated with forest management projects.  

There are similarities between this bill and Rep. Westerman’s (R-AR-07) Resilient Federal Forests Act in their objectives and approach to forest management reform.  A critical difference between the two bills is that Senator Thune’s proposal does not contain a provision included in Rep. Westerman’s bill, which would allow the president to declare wildfires as natural disasters. 

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Discusses Water Infrastructure and Wildfire Prevention

Senator John Thune released his bill in the same week that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources conducted a hearing on reducing risks to wildfire.  The committee explored collaborative solutions to wildfire budgeting and forest management.  

Bryan Rice from the Office of Wildland Fire at the Department of the Interior urged Congress for increased funding for various programs relating to the prevention and management of wildfires, and specifically highlighted the importance of fuel management programs.  Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) emphasized the importance of finding a wildfire management solution that is fiscally responsible while mitigating further damage to federal forest land.

Last week, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing titled, “Increasing Water Security and Drought Preparedness through Infrastructure, Management, and Innovation.”  The purpose of the hearing was to identify methods to strengthen water infrastructure and drought preparedness.  In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) expressed a desire to build on last years’ drought legislation and encourage innovations in water infrastructure that will increase the water supply in Arizona and the nation as a whole.  Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, representing the Sonoma County Water Agency, provided the committee with a local perspective on the issues of drought preparedness and water infrastructure.  Supervisor Zane urged subcommittee members to support funding for investment in updated precipitation forecasting technology and to update rule curves for reservoir operations.  Together, these regulatory updates would increase the water supply in the west and improve water storage in California.  During the question and answer segment of the hearing, Supervisor Zane added that the federal government would save billions of dollars in emergency mitigation funds if improvements are made to forecasting technologies. 

Farm Bill Update

The House Agriculture concluded its week long listening tour on the farm bill on Saturday in Modesto, California at the Modesto Junior College campus. Five House lawmakers, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas), heard from dozens of witnesses representing the diverse agricultural economy of California.  

California Republicans Jeff Denham (R-Stanislaus), David Valadao (R-Kings), Doug LaMalfa (R-Butte) also attended the session, along with Democrat Dwight Evans (D-Pennsylvania).  Committee members received consistent messaging from farmers throughout the listening tour. As lawmakers begin drafting the Farm Bill’s reauthorization, the agriculture industry provided the following priorities:  fix the dairy program; do not separate or block-grant nutrition programs; fund research; and increase easement and conservation acreage.  

Speakers in Modesto were particularly concerned about the fate of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in this difficult budget climate. In a recent poll conducted by Farm Futures, farmers pointed to the Farm Bill as the most important issue for Congress to address next year.  Overall, 49% of farmers gave President Trump an A or B grade on agriculture issues through his first six months in office.

When Congress returns from recess in September, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) will focus on beginning the drafting process for the Farm Bill reauthorization, but the Senate’s backlogged agenda will delay progress. Concerns from farmers over the Farm Bill timeline were not abated by Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowas) comments this week when he revealed the Senate will not tackle the Farm Bill until tax reform is addressed.

RCRC Rural Photo Contest

RCRC has launched the 2017 Rural County Photo Contest!  The Rural County Photo Contest was created to promote tourism and local economic development through showcasing the beautiful landscape, scenery, activities, history, and charm of RCRC’s member counties.  All entries must include a brief description of each photo; location where the photo was taken, including the county in which it was taken; and, the photographer’s full name and email address.  Photo entries can be sent to spasquini@rcrcnet.org, and must be submitted in .jpeg, .jpg., or png. format, 300 dpi or less, and no larger than 10MB.  All photographs must be the original work of the participant, or must have the photographer’s written permission.  Read More…

KEEPING UP

Eileen Sobeck named Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board

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BULLETIN BOARD

RCRC Hosts Global Trade Services Workshop in Nevada County

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DWR announces 2017 Preseason Flood Coordination Meeting Schedule

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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

The California State Legislature reconvenes on Monday, August 21, 2017, for the final four weeks of the 2017 Legislative Session.  Legislators will focus on housing, finalizing the Cap-and-Trade package, and hundreds of bills that have progressed through the Legislative Session. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee will likely be the first legislative committee considering dozens of Assembly Bills, and a few days later, the Assembly Appropriations Committee will consider dozens of Senate Bills.  The 2017 Legislation Session is slated to end on September 15, 2017.

REGULATORY UPDATE

Draft State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Filled Materials to Waters of the State.  Establishes a State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures), for inclusion in the forthcoming Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries and Ocean Waters of California.  The State version of the federal “Waters of the United States” rule.  Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Status: The draft was released July 21, 2017, with comments due September 7, 2017.  Board hearing is set for September 6.  The notice, draft, staff reports, and all other related documents can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org

Final Draft of Proposed Amended Regulations Pertaining to Surface Mining Operation Inspections.  The proposed amended regulatory language is intended to implement the improvements and updates to Public Resources Code Section 2774 based upon the statutory changes made by Assembly Bill 1142 (Grey, 2016).  Agency: Department of Conservation State Mining and Geology Board.  Status: The final draft was published July 31, 2017, for consideration of adoption on September 14, 2017.  The notice and final draft can be accessed here.   RCRC Comments: Staff submitted comments on the modified text and is seeking additional input prior to the hearing.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Pertaining to Vested Rights Determinations and Mining Ordinances.  The proposed amended regulatory language is intended to implement the updates to Public Resources Code Section 2774 based upon the statutory changes made by Assembly Bill 1142 (Grey, 2016) pertaining to vested rights determinations and mining ordinances.  Agency: Department of Conservation State Mining and Geology Board.  Status: The notice was released June 23, 2017, with comments due August 17, 2017, and final consideration for adoption on September 14, 2017.  The notice and draft can be accessed here.   RCRC Comments: Staff submitted suggested language during the informal comment period on the proposed amendments and is seeking additional input prior to the hearing.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Extension of Public Comment on Proposed Amendment to General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 General Permit).  The proposed amendment revises the implementation requirements of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) in Attachment G and modifies the corresponding Findings, Provisions, and Fact Sheet of the Small MS4 General Permit accordingly.  The proposed amendment specifically addresses the implementation of 73 Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).  Agency:  State Water Resources control Board.  Status:  The proposed amendments were first released June 5, 2017.  Submission of written comments has been extended to noon Monday, August 21, 2017.   The notice and proposed amendments can be accessed hereRCRC Comments:   Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@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 held six workshops in April, May, and June in 2017.  The CVFP Board held an additional workshops on July 14 and July 28 and has one more scheduled for August 11, 2017.  These workshops are intended to provide the CVFP Board an opportunity to discuss the 2017 CVFPP Update, associated documents, public comments, and any potential revisions to the 2017 CVFPP Update.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR), in coordination with CVFCB staff, developed a “track changes” version of the 2017 CVFPP Update that incorporates responses to all public comments received to date from the Public Draft released in December 2016.  The “track changes” draft can be accessed here.  The draft update, draft Supplemental Program EIS, and scheduled workshop details can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org