The Barbed Wire - August 24, 2018

August 24, 2018
Register for RCRC’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Napa!!!
Laptops Donated to Humboldt County Foster Youth
RCRC Continues to Urge the Legislature to Act on Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness
RCRC Staff Testifies in Opposition of Proposed Revisions to Bay-Delta Plan
Emergency Forum Held on Wildfires
Federal Water Policy Update
Farm Bill Update
THE RURAL RUNDOWN PODCAST
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Register for RCRC’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Napa!!!

RCRC’s 2018 Annual Meeting will be held September 19-21 at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa in Napa County.  This year’s program will feature experts discussing a wide range of topics of interest to rural counties, including school safety, the changing face of media, the current political landscape, and more.  Read More…

Laptops Donated to Humboldt County Foster Youth

This week, representatives from the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), National Homebuyers Fund, Inc. (NHF), and iFoster provided an update to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on the distribution of nearly 80 gifted laptops to local foster youth and former foster youth aged 16-21 in Humboldt County. These laptops are part of a statewide distribution of more than 1,100 laptop computers to all eligible foster youth and former foster youth aged 16-21 within RCRC’s 35-member counties.  Read More…

RCRC Continues to Urge the Legislature to Act on Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness

RCRC is again encouraging members of the Wildfire Preparedness and Response Legislative Conference Committee (Committee) to act now on recommendations for an enhanced program of forest and vegetation management to help prevent future wildfires like the ones currently devastating communities around the state.  Convened in July, the Committee has held numerous hearings to discuss a variety of topics surrounding wildfire prevention, including hardening around utility lines, forest health and fuels reduction, and wildfire liability for investor owned utilities.  However, the Committee has yet to produce any language with just over a week left in the legislative session, leaving many stakeholders wondering if any substantive actions will be taken before the Legislature adjourns on August 31, 2018.  

This year’s already-devastating fire season underscores the urgency to take action now on wildfire prevention actions such as fuels reduction, forest and vegetation management, increased wood products utilization, and watershed restoration.  RCRC is urging the Committee to take advantage of its unique opportunity to implement forest health actions that could change the course of wildfire activity in future years.  The Committee is expected to convene at least once more before the end of the legislative session.

RCRC’s most recent letter to the Committee can be accessed here.

RCRC Staff Testifies in Opposition of Proposed Revisions to Bay-Delta Plan

On Wednesday, RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Mary-Ann Warmerdam testified at the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) regarding the draft final Bay-Delta Plan update. 

Ms. Warmerdam spoke in opposition of SWRCB moving forward with the proposal and urged SWRCB to reconsider:

  • Opportunities for a holistic approach to meeting the Delta’s needs, including improvements that will achieve ecosystem-wide sustainability, including the use of Voluntary Stewardship Agreements (VSAs);
  • The changes occurring within the watershed itself, including the effects of the wildfire and forest health on both water quality and water supply; and,
  • Both the economic and sustainability issues emanating from the draft with respect to implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and the communities dependent on groundwater for their drinking water supply.

Last month, the SWRCB released (1) the draft final Bay-Delta Plan update for the Lower San Joaquin River and Southern Delta, and the associated Substitute Environmental Document (SED), and (2) a draft “Framework” to update flow requirements for the Sacramento River. These two documents (addressing “Phase I” and “Phase II” respectively) propose new and revised flow objectives (equaling 55 percent unimpaired flow objectives on the Sacramento River and 40 percent of unimpaired flows for all the major San Joaquin River tributaries) as well as other specific requirements and conditions that are proposed as narrative objectives.

RCRC’s comment letter on the proposed revisions to the Bay-Delta Plan can be accessed here.

Emergency Forum Held on Wildfires

The U.S. House of Representatives is out of session for the month of August, but the House Natural Resources Committee is holding an emergency forum at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City to examine solutions that mitigate destruction from catastrophic wildfires.  The timing for this meeting is critical, as the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) fire suppression account continues to dwindle.  

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue notified Congress earlier this month that the agency will transfer $555 million to keep the USFS’s fire suppression fund afloat.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has yet to grant a major disaster declaration for some of California’s largest wildfires this season despite calls from California’s Congressional delegation.  A major disaster declaration from FEMA would provide much needed federal assistance to California’s ongoing effort to battle wildfires and recover from their destruction.

Federal Water Policy Update

Last week, Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke circulated a memo asking staff to prepare a plan that would divert more water from Northern California to the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of California’s agriculture economy.  Secretary Zinke asked staff to prepare an action plan within 15-days that improves infrastructure necessary for the operation of the Central Valley Project.  

In the memo, Secretary Zinke said the Trump Administration is reviewing a broad range of legal measures to override decisions of the State Water Resources Control Board and pump more water to farmers in the southern part of the state.  Secretary Zinke’s plan is praised by farmers in the San Joaquin Valley who hope the policy will restore the Central Valley Project’s viability and invigorate California’s agriculture economy.

Secretary Zinke’s memo was quickly followed by a move from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to give notice to California State officials that the federal agency will seek to reorganize the federal and state water projects throughout the state.  If the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is successful it will divert more water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley which will leave less water for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves the entire Greater Los Angeles Area.

Secretary Zinke’s office says it was merely a coincidence that his memo was released the same day that the Bureau of Reclamation gave its notice, but the two actions indicate tensions are escalating between California and federal water authorities.

Farm Bill Update

The 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee has scheduled its first official meeting for Wednesday, September 5, at 9:30 AM.  Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) says staff members from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have held informal negotiations throughout the month of August, but members of the Conference Committee did not have a chance to meet before the August recess.  

The meeting on September 5th will be the first opportunity for the Conference Committee to negotiate the final version of the bill.

THE RURAL RUNDOWN PODCAST

The Rural Rundown discusses the legislative and regulatory issues impacting California’s rural counties, featuring commentary and interviews from individuals committed to improving the quality of life in rural California. 

The Rural Rundown can be accessed here

BULLETIN BOARD

Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.

HCD: New Funding to Address Homelessness

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.  

Assembly Bill 893 (Garcia): California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program. Assembly Bill 893 would require each retail seller of electricity and each local publicly owned electric utility to procure a proportionate share, as determined by the Public Utilities Commission, in consultation with the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, of electricity products from a statewide total of 3,500 megawatts of geothermal generation capacity. Status: AB 893 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Pending

Assembly Bill 924 (Bonta): Indian Tribes: Commercial Cannabis Activity.  Assembly Bill 924 expresses legislative intent to authorize the Governor to enter into agreements concerning cannabis activities on lands of federally-recognized sovereign Indian tribes. Status: AB 924 failed passage in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Support If Amended

Assembly Bill 1954 (Patterson): Timber Harvest Plans: Exemption: Flammable Materials. Assembly Bill 1954 would delete the inoperative date of an exemption from some or all provisions of the Forest Practices Act of 1973 concerning a person engaged in specified forest management activities. Status: AB 1954 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2050 (Caballero): Small System Water Authority Act of 2018.  Assembly Bill 2050 would create the Small System Water Authority Act of 2018 and state legislative findings and declarations relating to authorizing the creation of small system water authorities that will have powers to absorb, improve, and competently operate noncompliant public water systems. Defines various terms and requires a change in organization to be carried out as set forth in the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000. Status: AB 2050 awaits action in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2348 (Aguiar-Curry): Winter-Flooded Rice: Incentives. Assembly Bill 2348 would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation that would provide an incentive to farmers to maintain winter-flooded rice. Status:  AB 2348 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2447 (Reyes): California Environmental Quality Act: Land Use. Assembly Bill 2447 would require the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to publish a list of subject land uses and a map that identifies disadvantaged communities and areas within 1/2 mile radius of the disadvantaged communities. Requires a lead agency to provide certain notices to owners and occupants of property located within one-half mile of any parcel or parcels, and to any schools located within one mile of any parcel or parcels, involving a subject land use. Status: AB 2447 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Concerns

Assembly Bill 2501 (Chu): Drinking Water: Consolidation and Extension of Service.  AB 2501 would redefine small public water system for purposes of the California Safe Drinking Water Act as a system with 200 connections or less. Authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to order consolidation with a receiving water system where a disadvantaged community is reliant on a state small water system, an individual well, or an unregulated water system serving fewer than five connections. Status: AB 2501 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Pending

Assembly Bill 2518 (Aguiar-Curry): Innovative Forest Products and Mass Timber. Assembly Bill 2518 would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in collaboration with the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, to explore markets, including export markets, for milling, development, and expansion of innovative forest products and mass timber, that require consistence with the state's climate objectives on forest lands. Status: AB 2518 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2551 (Wood): Forest and Wildland Health Improvement. Assembly Bill 2551 would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention to establish, implement, and administer the Forest and Wildland Health Improvement and Fire Prevention Program, which is intended to promote forest and wildland health, restoration, and resilience, and improve fire prevention and preparedness throughout the state. Status: AB 2551 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2594 (Friedman): Fire Insurance. Assembly Bill 2594 would revise the standard forms of policy and extend the period in which to bring suit to 24 months after the inception of the loss if the loss is related to a state of emergency, as specified. Status: AB 2594 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2649 (Arambula): Groundwater Recharge. AB 2649 would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to increase groundwater recharge. Status: AB 2649 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Oppose Unless Amended

Assembly Bill 2697 (Gallagher): Wildlife, Bird and Waterfowl habitat. Assembly Bill 2697 would require the Wildlife Conservation Board to establish a program, which may include direct payments or other incentives, to encourage landowners to voluntarily cultivate or retain cover crops or other upland vegetation on idled lands to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat cover for purposes, including, but not limited to, encouraging the use of idle agricultural lands for wildlife habitat. Status: AB 2697 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 3036 (Cooley): Solid Waste: Definition. Assembly Bill 3036 would exclude from the State Integrated Waste Management Act's definition of solid waste byproducts from processing food, if those byproducts meet certain conditions, including, among others, that the byproducts are intended for use as animal feed. Status: AB 3036 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Watch

Assembly Bill 3178 (Rubio): Integrated Waste Management Plans: Source Reduction. Assembly Bill 3178 would require the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to consider whether the absence or loss of a market for recyclable materials necessitated the disposal of those materials as a temporary measure to avoid a public health threat when evaluating a jurisdiction’s compliance with AB 939 diversion goals. Status: AB 3178 awaits action in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 168 (Wieckowski): Beverage Container Recycling Act of 2017.  Senate Bill 168 would require Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to establish minimum recycled content for beverage containers and to provide the Legislature a report on an extended producer responsibility program to replace the current beverage container recycling program. Status: SB awaits action in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 212 (Jackson): Solid Waste: Pharmaceutical Sharps and Waste. Senate Bill 212 would establish a pharmaceutical and sharps waste stewardship program, under which each manufacturer of covered drugs or sharps, as defined, in the state would be required to establish and implement, either on its own or as part of a group of covered manufacturers through membership in a pharmaceutical and sharps waste stewardship organization, a pharmaceutical and sharps waste stewardship program. Status: SB 212 passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee to the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 452 (Glazer): The California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act. Assembly Bill 452 is considered the bottle bill “short term fix” and is intended to increase recycling opportunities. SB 452 proposes to return processing payments to 2015 levels and extends plastic recycling market development incentives. SB 452 would also limit take back responsibility for dealers in unserved zones to 24 containers per day, temporarily relieve dealers by suspending the take-back obligation in zones that became unserved due to a recycling center closure until December 2021, and provides additional handling fees in rural areas annually for three years, among other provisions. Status:  SB 452 passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee to the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 824 (Lara): Insurance: Nonrenewal.  Senate Bill 824 would express the intent of the Legislature to clarify that the provisions described concerning cancellation of structural insurance policies is applicable to all insured properties located within a county for which a state of emergency has been declared. SB 824 prohibits nonrenewal of the policies under specified circumstances. Status: SB 824 awaits action in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 844 (Monning): Water Quality: Agricultural Safe Drinking Water Fees. SB 844 would require a licensed manufacturer or distributor of fertilizing materials to pay a fertilizer safe drinking water fee per dollar of sale for all sales of fertilizing materials intended for noncommercial use and for all sales of packaged fertilizing materials, thereto. Reduces these fees, beginning a specified calendar year. Requires a transfer of a specified amount from the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund to the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Status: SB 844 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 845 (Monning): Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. SB 845 would establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to secure access to safe drinking water for all residents of the state, and to ensure the long-term sustainability of drinking water service and infrastructure. Requires a community water system with a certain number of connections to provide an opportunity for each customer to provide a voluntary remittance either as part of the customer's regular water bill or by using a specified notification procedure. Status: SB 845 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 894 (Dodd): Property Insurance. Senate Bill 894 would require an insurer, in the case of a total loss to the primary insured structure under a policy of residential property insurance, to offer to renew the policy. Increases the minimum coverage for additional living expenses in the case of a loss related to a declared state of emergency. Requires an insurer who decides not to offer to renew a policy after the expiration of that period to report the decision to not offer to renew the policy to the Insurance Commissioner. Status: SB 894 awaits action in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 917 (Jackson): Insurance Policies. Senate Bill 917 would provide that insurance policies that do not cover the peril of landslide shall not exclude coverage for any loss or damage attributable to a landslide if the landslide resulting in loss or damage was proximately caused by another covered peril, as provided.  Status: SB 917 awaits action in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 998 (Dodd): Water Shutoffs: Urban and Community Water Systems. Senate Bill 998 would require an urban and community water system as a public water system that supplies water to more than 200 service connections, to have a written policy on residential service shutoff available in specified languages of the people residing in its service area. Requires certain aspect to be available on its system web site and be provided annually to customers in writing. Status: Senate Bill 998 awaits action on the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 1079 (Monning): Forest Resources: Fire Prevention Grant Fees. Senate Bill 1079 would relate to existing laws authorizing the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to provide grants to entities, including, but not limited to, private or nongovernmental entities, Native American tribes, or local, state, and federal public agencies, for the implementation and administration of projects and programs to improve forest health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Authorizes the Director to authorize advance payments to a nonprofit organization, a special district, or a Native American tribe. Status: SB 1079 gained passage in the Senate and Assembly, and awaits the Governor's consideration. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 1215 (Hertzberg): Drinking Water Systems and Sewer Systems: Consolidation. Senate Bill 1215 would authorize the State Water Resources Control Board to set timeline and performance measures to facilitate completion of extension of service of drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Authorizes ordered consolidation with a receiving sewer system for, or extension of sewer service to, a disadvantaged community under specified circumstances. Status: SB 1215 awaits action in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Pending/Concerns

Senate Bill 1260 (Jackson): Fire Prevention and Protection: Prescribed Burns. Senate Bill 1260 would require a local agency to transmit a copy of their adopted ordinance to the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection within a certain number of days of adoption. Requires a local agency to make a finding that ingress and egress for a subdivision meet regulations regarding road standards for fire equipment access, as provided. Gives the Department the option, if it elects not to purchase insurance, to determine proportionate share of liability, as provided. Status: SB 1260 awaits action in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Support