The Barbed Wire - February 3, 2017

February 3, 2017
RCRC Reignites Fight for PILT
RCRC Submits Comments on No Place Like Home Program Framework
State Senate Committees Assess the Status of Cannabis Regulatory Activities
Lawsuit Filed on State Gray Wolf ESA Listing
FEMA Releases Second Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Educational Loan Repayment Assistance for Primary Care Professionals
Update on President Trump Cabinet Secretaries
Californians Lend Leadership on Indian Affairs
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC Reignites Fight for PILT

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) is once again sponsoring legislation to require the State to make good on their obligations to counties through the commitment of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments.  Senate Bill 58 by Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) is a bipartisan effort to amend Fish and Game Code language back to its original form, making State PILT payments to counties a requirement.  Read More...

RCRC Submits Comments on No Place Like Home Program Framework

This week, RCRC joined the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), Urban Counties of California (UCC), and the County Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), in submitting comments to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on the proposed No Place Like Home (NPLH) program framework.  

Legislation signed into law last year enacted the NPLH program, which provides $2 billion in bond funding to counties for permanent supportive housing of homeless persons experiencing serious mental illness.  Specifically, the program will provide funding to all counties through three different funding paths: Competitive, Over-the-Counter, and Technical Assistance.  The framework, released in December 2016, outlines the policies and processes for implementation of all aspects of the program.  

HCD held several workshops around the state to receive feedback from local community members during the public comment period.  In addition to the county coalition comment letter, accessed here, RCRC staff participated in a number of the regional workshops.  

We will continue to engage with our county partners and HCD to ensure that implementation of the NPLH program is as beneficial as possible for our member counties. 

State Senate Committees Assess the Status of Cannabis Regulatory Activities

On Monday, three State Senate committees convened to pose questions to the heads of several State Agencies that regulate cannabis in light of the enactment of the Medical Cannabis Regulatory and Safety Act, and the voter-approved Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64).  

Led by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) of the Senate Business, Professions & Economic Development Committee, a series of questions were posed to Ms. Lori Ajax, Chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, Dr. Karen Smith, Director of the California Department of Public Health, and Jim Houston, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA).  In addition, Amy Tong of the California Department of Technology was on-hand to answer questions surrounding the use of various technology systems for the cannabis licensing scheme.  Both the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee participated in the three-hour hearing where the status of proposed regulations surrounding the regulatory scheme was addressed.  Each of the agencies indicated that proposed medical cannabis regulations will be available for review and public comment “in the early Spring” with proposed emergency regulations for adult-use cannabis being unveiled sometime in August 2017.  Senator Mike McGuire (D-Sonoma) provided a number of extensive questions to the regulatory agency panel, most pointedly to CDFA with concerns on how the thousands of cannabis cultivators on the North Coast will be impacted.

RCRC joined our local government partners at CSAC and the League of Cities in outlining the most immediate concerns with the development of a regulatory scheme, namely the contents of the proposed state regulatory packages.  RCRC indicated that what will be most on the minds of the state’s rural counties will be the verification process showing that license applicants have received local approval to engage in commercial cannabis activities.  In addition, RCRC expressed concerns over the State’s expectations of counties with regards to enforcement activities of county agricultural commissioners, environmental health directors, sheriff’s offices and tax collectors.

A similar hearing will be held in the State Assembly next week.

Lawsuit Filed on State Gray Wolf ESA Listing

On Tuesday, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the California Fish and Game Commission’s (Commission) 2015 decision to list the gray wolf as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (Act).  The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation, challenges the listing based on the Commission’s lack of sound scientific basis for the action, as well as the notion that the gray wolf is not covered under the Act because it is not a historically native species in California.  The species is generally considered a threat to livestock, and the listing severely hinders the ability of ranchers to manage livestock depredation as the wolf population expands.  

The Commission’s position on the gray wolf has been controversial since it was first declared a candidate for listing in 2012 after OR-7, the first gray wolf to appear in California since 1924, migrated into the state from Oregon.  Since that time, other gray wolves have migrated into California from Oregon and established packs, but the species is not considered native to California, and is flourishing and increasing in numbers nationally.  Before the species was considered for listing, stakeholders, including ranchers, farmers, and County Agricultural Commissioners from several RCRC member counties, spent months working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on the Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves, a plan for management of the species in the state, which many feel is now worthless because of the listing.

Detailed information on the case, including the full complaint and related documents, can be accessed here.

FEMA Releases Second Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has released its second Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on establishing a deductible for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, for the “repair and replacement of public infrastructure damaged by a disaster event.”  This supplemental ANPR 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.  This proposal would not impact other FEMA disaster assistance such as debris removal, emergency protective measures, or their Individual Assistance or Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.  

The first ANPR did not provide any details of what the program might look like, but outlined a deductible concept with States receiving credit toward their deductible requirement through proactive pre-event actions.  RCRC joined the California State Association of Counties and the Urban County Caucus in submitting comments on the first ANPR for this proposal.  The supplemental ANPR provides estimates of each State’s deductible, based upon their fiscal capacity and disaster risk calculated by FEMA, and estimates potential credits based upon seven credit categories.    

FEMA recognizes it may not have all the information necessary to calculate each State’s deductible and credits, and is seeking comments on the proposal’s framework and input from each State on the estimates in the proposal.  Comments on the supplemental ANPR are due by April 12, 2017.  If this concept proceeds forward, FEMA would publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking before issuing a final rule.  FEMA anticipates not applying any deductible for at least one year following publication of the final rule and then phasing in the deductible.

RCRC staff is seeking input from our counties on this proposal.  Please submit any comments to mpitto@rcrcnet.org.  The supplemental ANPR can be accessed here.

    

Educational Loan Repayment Assistance for Primary Care Professionals

The California State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), which is administered by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), has been expanded to target primary care physicians, mid-level providers, and psychiatrists in the 35 County Medical Services Program (CMSP) counties.  

Eligible applicants may receive loan repayments of up to $50,000 in exchange for a two-year service obligation providing direct patient care at a qualifying, CMSP-contracted provider.  Funding for the expansion of the loan repayment program is being provided by the CMSP Governing Board as a part of the Board’s Healthcare Workforce Development efforts.

The 35 CMSP participating counties include: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, San Benito, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

The application deadline is March 30, 2017.  Additional detailed information on eligibility and application requirements can be accessed here

Update on President Trump Cabinet Secretaries

The Senate continued to make progress on nominations for Cabinet Secretaries this week.  Elaine Chao was confirmed by the full Senate on Tuesday, and has since been sworn in as Secretary of Department of Transportation.  Also on Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the nominations of Ryan Zinke for Secretary of the Interior and Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy.   On Thursday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the nomination for Environment Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.  Committee Democrats did not attend the vote, and therefore the Committee Republicans voted to change the rules to allow his nomination to move forward.  

Dates have not been scheduled for when Zinke, Perry, or Pruitt will be considered on the floor of the Senate.  Also, the Senate Agriculture Committee has not set a date for a hearing for the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.  

Californians Lend Leadership on Indian Affairs

In the 115th Congress, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian Affairs will be led by California Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-1st) and Norma Torres (D-35th).  Chairman LaMalfa replaces Rep. Don Young (R-AK) as Chairman of the Subcommittee.  Ranking Member Torres replaces Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-36th) as the top Democrat on the Subcommittee.  

Ruiz’s leadership role on the Subcommittee will be her first senior role on a Subcommittee as she moves into her second term in office.  Last year, the Committee focused on federal recognition of Indian Tribes and often clashed with the Obama Administration over the proper role of the executive branch in Indian Affairs.  The tone is certain to change as a Republican Administration takes control, however no details have emerged on priorities for the new Administration.    

KEEPING UP

RCRC 2017 Installation and Rural Leadership Awards Reception Photo Album

Click here

BULLETIN BOARD

Webinar: Understanding the CalPERS Discount Rate Change and the Effect on Employer Contributions

Click here

PPIC Releases Video Series on California Water

Click here

Full Statistics Available for Crop Year 2015

Click here

NOFA: Housing-Related Parks Program 2016

Click here

UPDATED: 2016/2017 Clean Water State Revolving Fund Intended Use Plan

Click here

Stormwater Finance Forum: Southern California

Click here

Stormwater Finance Forum: Northern California

Click here

Draft WAFR Report and Appendices Posted for Public Comment

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.  

AB 44 (Reyes): Workers' Compensation: Workplace Violence.  Assembly Bill 44 would exempt medical treatment for employees or first responders who sustain physical or psychological injury as a result of an act of terrorism or violence in the workplace from the utilization review process and the independent medical review process.  Additionally, AB 44 would provide an expedited proceeding process, before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, to resolve disputes regarding treatment.  The bill would also apply retroactively to the employees and first responders injured in the San Bernardino terrorist attack of December 2, 2015, and any other employees or first responders injured by an act of terrorism or violence in the workplace that occurs prior to January 1, 2018.  Status: AB 44 is awaiting action in the Assembly Insurance Committee.  RCRC Position: Pending

Assembly Bill 52 (Cooper): Public Employee: Orientation and Informational Programs.  Assembly Bill 52 would require public agency employers to provide all employees an orientation.  This bill would also require the employers to allow a representative from a recognized employee organization to participate.  Status: AB 52 awaits action in the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement & Social Security Committee.  RCRC Position: Pending

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 referral in the Assembly.  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 referral in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Oppose

AB 211 (Bigelow): State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fees: Reporting Requirement.  Assembly Bill 211 would require the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board) 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 referral in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

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

Senate Bill 58 (McGuire): Wildlife Management Areas: Taxes and Assessments.  Senate Bill 58, commencing with the 2018-19 fiscal year, would return the ‘may’ back to ‘shall’ in Fish and Game Code Section 1504 making future PILT payments required rather than permissive.  Status: SB 58 awaits action in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.  RCRC Position: Support; Sponsor

Senate Bill 148 (Wiener): State Board of Equalization: Counties: State Agencies.  Senate Bill 148 would enact the Cannabis State Payment Collection Law, and would authorize the State Board of Equalization or a county to collect cash payments from cannabis-related businesses for a State Agency that administers any fee, fine, penalty, or other charge payable by a cannabis-related business.  Status: SB 148 awaits referral in the Senate.  RCRC Position: Support if Amended

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.  

California Forest Carbon Plan.  Provides opportunity for public comment on State Forest Carbon Plan, which lays out a blueprint for forest management actions in California on all levels of forest land to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon storage and sequestration.  Agency: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Status: Draft available for public comment, comments due by February 23, 2017.  Draft proposal and related documents can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: RCRC is seeking member county input.  RCRC Advocates: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org

Revised Draft Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy.  The revised Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy and relevant Appendices have been released for public review and comments.  The SLCP Reduction Strategy addresses black carbon, methane, and hydroflourocarbons (HFC) emissions, and lays out a range of options to reduce SLCP emissions in California, including regulations, incentives, and other market-supporting activities.  Agency: Air Resources Board (ARB) Status: The revised SLCP Reduction Strategy and relevant Appendices was released on November 28, 2016, with comments due by January 17, 2017.  Three SLCP Strategy workshops were held the week of December 12, 2016.  The Revised Draft SLCP Reduction Strategy and Revised Draft Environmental Analysis (Appendix E) will be considered at the March 23 and 24, 2017 ARB monthly meeting.  The revised SLCP Reduction Strategy, notice of the public workshops, and related documents can be accessed hereRCRC Comments: Click here RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org and Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org

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 have been scheduled for January 27 and February 16/17, 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 related documents can be accessed hereRCRC Comments: Click here RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org and Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

General Plan Safety Element Review and Assessment.  The proposed rule establishes a standardized review process for the Board of Forestry review of a draft element or a draft amendment to the safety element of a county or a city’s general plan that contains State Responsibility Area (SRA) or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. Agency: Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board) Status: The proposed rule was republished December 23, 2016, with comments due by February 7, 2017.  The Board anticipates holding a public hearing on March 8, 2017.  The proposed rule can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Regulating Suction Dredge Mining to Protect Water Quality.  Five public workshops have been scheduled in early 2017 to solicit input on what action should be taken to protect water quality from suction dredge mining in accordance with Senate Bill 637.  Agency: State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Status: Workshops have been scheduled in Fresno on January 17, 2017; San Bernardino on January 18, 2017; Orleans on January 24, 2017; Redding on January 25, 2017; and Sacramento on February 6, 2017.  The notice can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: 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 have been scheduled in February and March 2017 throughout the Central Valley.  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