The Barbed Wire - August 31, 2018

August 31, 2018
Register for RCRC’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Napa!!!
2017-18 Legislative Session Wraps Up
RCRC Applauds Bipartisan Forest Health Package, Urges Legislative Support
Funds for State Voting Equipment Upgrades
RCRC Heads to Washington, D.C. to Advocate for Federal PILT Funding
Farm Bill Update
Rural Broadband Update
Laptops Donated to El Dorado County Foster Youth
THE RURAL RUNDOWN PODCAST
KEEPING UP
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…

2017-18 Legislative Session Wraps Up

Midnight tonight marks the end of the 2017-18 Legislative Session.  During the month of August, the Legislature heard and took final action on hundreds of bills.  The Governor has until September 30, 2018 to address and consider bills that have reached his desk.  Bills that are enacted on to before October 1, 2018 take effect January 1, 2019. 

Key RCRC-supported efforts to advocate for addressing wildfire includes:

  • AB 1956 (Limon) which requires the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to establish a local assistance grant program for fire prevention activities.
  • Senate Bill 901 (Dodd) which includes important, robust actions to improve the health and resilience of California’s forested and wildlands to help minimize and prevent future catastrophic wildfire events.
  • Senate Bill 1079 (Monning) which provides advance payments up to 25 percent of CAL FIRE grants for forest management and fuels treatment projects for local agencies and tribes, among others.
  • Senate Bill 1260 (Jackson) which would promote the use of prescribed burns for fuels treatment and wildfire prevention statewide.

RCRC staff continues to work on issues still outstanding in the Legislature in the final hours of session.  The RCRC Board of Directors will receive a full update on the status of key bills at the September board meeting in Napa County. 

RCRC Applauds Bipartisan Forest Health Package, Urges Legislative Support

Late Tuesday evening, the Wildfire Preparedness & Response Legislative Conference Committee (Committee) finalized a bipartisan forest health package that includes a significant amount of funding and real solutions to prevent and minimize future catastrophic wildfires. The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) specifically applauds Assemblymembers Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) for their determined efforts to persuade their colleagues of the need to address this issue immediately, and in a meaningful way. 

“The Committee’s proposal will have real, on the ground impacts to prevent future catastrophic wildfire events similar to those that have devastated our rural communities over the past decade,” said Rex Bohn, RCRC Chair and Humboldt County Supervisor. “We’re grateful for the Committee’s work, and are encouraged that the Legislature and Governor Brown are poised to enact this much-needed package that will save lives, resources, and property.”

Senate Bill 901 will provide robust, long-term funding for forest health programs, streamline regulatory requirements for forest management and fuels treatment projects, expand existing exemptions to allow for more effective management of flammable materials on timberlands, and extend contracts for biomass facilities to help remove dead and dying trees and other materials from forests. More importantly, the bill contains $1 billion over the next five years to fund much of the vegetation management work that is outlined in the legislation.  The Legislature is slated to enact SB 901 and a number of other forest and fire-related measures before its adjournment on August 31st.

RCRC’s SB 901 support letter can be accessed here

Funds for State Voting Equipment Upgrades

On Wednesday, the Secretary of State (SOS) released a memorandum to county elections officials on new funding available via the Legislature and Governor’s approval in the 2018-19 State Budget of $134 million for voting equipment upgrades. 

For Fiscal Year 2018-2019, the following funding has been authorized by state and federal governments to be used for election purposes:

  • $134 million in state funds for voting system modernization;
  • $1.5 million in federal funds for costs associated with cyber security risks and associated infrastructure needs related to VoteCal; and,
  • $1.5 million in federal funds for costs associated with polling place accessibility.

These funds will be allocated through state contracts with the counties and on a reimbursement based. Draft contracts are expected to be sent to counties at the end of September 2018.  Purchases made by counties between April 2015 and June 2021 are eligible.

The memo also includes allocation of voting equipment upgrade monies on a county-by-county basis as well as a process receiving reimbursement.  The memo can be accessed here

During the State Budget process, RCRC supported this budget action to provide funding to assist counties in replacing voting systems and associated technology.  RCRC’s letter can be accessed here

RCRC Heads to Washington, D.C. to Advocate for Federal PILT Funding

Next week, RCRC First Vice Chair Randy Hanvelt (Tuolumne County) and RCRC Board Member and National Association of Counties (NACo) Western Interstate Region (WIR) First Vice President Kevin Cann (Mariposa County) will be traveling with Paul A. Smith, RCRC Vice President Governmental Affairs, to Washington, D.C. for NACo’s 2018 Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Fly-In to continue advocacy efforts in support of the Federal PILT program. 

Federal PILT payments to local governments help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries.  Federal PILT payments support a variety of local government programs and services, including police and fire departments, emergency medical services, and search and rescue operations.  

In June, the U.S. Department of Interior distributed FY 2018 Federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes monies to counties.  California’s counties received approximately $60.4 million in payments.  The county-by-county Federal PILT payment’s for California can be accessed here.

RCRC will continue to advocate for a multi-year reauthorization, and will urge Congress to take action to reauthorize and fully fund the program for 2019.

Farm Bill Update

Next week, the Farm Bill conference committee will hold its first official meeting to negotiate the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill.  House and Senate staffers have been holding unofficial negotiations throughout August to reconcile differences between the House-approved version and the Senate’s Farm Bills.  Next Wednesday will be the first meeting of the members themselves.  

House and Senate Agriculture Chairmen Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Pat Roberts (R-Texas) will be expected to issue a statement immediately after that meeting to convey how close the Committee is to reaching a final agreement.

Rural Broadband Update

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the winners of the Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction (CAF).  The auction will allocate $1.488 billion nationwide over the next 10 years to support broadband deployment projects in underserved rural areas.  

The auction granted California $149,026,913 – the second in most funds allocated to any state.  The funds will be divided up among five California service providers: Cal. net, California Internet, Frontier Communications, Hankins Information Technology, and Viasat.  These providers are now required to use these funds to deploy additional broadband service in over 50,000 underserved locations across the state. 

According to the FCC, 53 percent of all homes and businesses served with support from CAF funds will have internet download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second.  Perhaps more importantly, all but 0.25 percent of these locations will have at least 25 megabits per second of service.  Recipient providers will be required to demonstrate a 40 percent build out of their service networks within the first three years of the program.

In addition to CAF, the FCC is working on a new program that will grant monthly funds for wireless coverage projects in rural America.  The Mobility Fund Phase II program will auction off $4.53 billion for projects per month.

Laptops Donated to El Dorado County Foster Youth

Earlier this week, representatives from the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), National Homebuyers Fund, Inc. (NHF), and iFoster provided an update to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on the distribution of 52 gifted laptops to local foster youth and former foster youth aged 16- 21 in El Dorado 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…

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

KEEPING UP

Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.

James Robertson, 61, of Crescent City, has been appointed warden of Pelican Bay State Prison, where he has been acting warden since 2017. Robertson served in several positions at Pelican Bay State Prison from 2001 to 2009, including classification and parole representative, correctional counselor supervisor and correctional counselor. Robertson served in several positions at the California Correctional Institution from 2016 to 2017 and from 1994 to 2001, including chief deputy administrator, correctional sergeant and correctional officer. He was a correctional administrator at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from 2014 to 2016 and served in several positions at San Quentin State Prison from 2009 to 2014, including associate warden, facility captain and correctional counselor. Robertson served in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 1977. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $154,308. Robertson is a Democrat.

BULLETIN BOARD

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

USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program

USDA Rural Development is currently accepting applications for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  The deadline to apply is October 31, 2018.  This grant program is designed to help agricultural producers and small business owners finance renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects.  Eligible projects include biomass (including anaerobic digesters) and solar, among other technologies.  Small business applicants must be located in eligible rural areas, typically populations of 50,000 or less, yet agricultural producers are not restricted by location for this program. 

Last year, California provided more than $200,000 in grants of $20,000 or less, with the average award of $16,969.  Complete program details, as well as how to apply, are available online at www.rd.usda.gov/ca.  For assistance with the application and materials contact California’s Energy Coordinator Rick Sturtevant at rick.sturtevant@ca.usda.gov or (831) 975-7762.

$587 Million Available in Disaster Supplemental Funding

Click here

Planning Grants for Wildfire

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 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 1250 (Jones-Sawyer): Counties and Cities: Personal Contract Services.  Assembly Bill 1250 would establish specific standards for the use of personal services contracts by counties.  Status: AB 1250 awaits consideration in the Senate Rules Committee. RCRC Position: Oppose

Assembly Bill 1875 (Wood): Residential Property Insurance.  Assembly Bill 1875 would require an insurer to offer extended replacement cost coverage when issuing or renewing a policy of residential property insurance, and requires the insurer to disclose the premium costs for extended replacement cost coverage. Status: AB 1875 awaits action in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1919 (Wood): Price Gouging: State of Emergency. Assembly Bill 1919 would make it a misdemeanor, upon proclamation or declaration of an emergency to increase the monthly rental price advertised, offered or charged for residential housing to an existing or prospective tenant by more than a specified percentage or greater than the rental price advertised, offered, or charged within 30 days immediately prior to the date of the proclamation or disaster. Status: AB 1919 awaits action in the Senate.  RCRC Position: Support

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 has been signed into law by 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 awaits the consideration of the Governor.  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 Assembly. 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 Assembly. 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 Assembly. 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 consideration in the Senate Rules Committee. 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 gained passage in the Senate and Assembly and awaits the Governor's consideration. 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 gained passage in the Senate and Assembly, and awaits the Governor's consideration. 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 the consideration of the Governor. 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 awaits action in the Senate. 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 gained passage in the Senate and Assembly, and awaits the Governor's consideration.  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 gained passage in the Senate and Assembly, and awaits the Governor's consideration. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 919 (Dodd): Water Resources: Stream Gages. Senate Bill 919 would require the Department of Water Resources to develop a plan to deploy a network of stream gages that includes a determination of funding needs and opportunities for reactivating existing gages. Requires the Department to prioritize the deployment of stream gages based upon gaps in the existing system of gages and specified considerations. Status: Held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  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 awaits the consideration of the Governor. 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: Oppose Unless Amended

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