The Barbed Wire - February 3, 2017

March 3, 2017
RCRC Members Outline Federal Priorities on Behalf of California’s Rural Counties
President to Reconsider WOTUS Rule
LAO Releases Report on Coordinated Care Initiative
Cap-and-Trade Revenues Fall Short Again
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC Members Outline Federal Priorities on Behalf of California’s Rural Counties

SACRAMENTO, CA – March 3, 2017 – Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) Officers, Members, and staff met with key federal policymakers and staff in Washington, D.C. this week to highlight current issues impacting California’s rural counties.  The federal priorities for rural California include Federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), wildfire suppression funding, reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS), and transportation infrastructure.  Read More...

President to Reconsider WOTUS Rule

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an Executive Order requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review all aspects of the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS), a controversial measure finalized under the previous administration.  The Rule will undergo review by EPA and other applicable agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and then those agencies will be required to revise or rescind aspects of the Rule that are economically harmful to impacted industries or cause regulatory uncertainty.  

WOTUS 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 a pending case against the rule. 

LAO Releases Report on Coordinated Care Initiative

This week the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report on the Governor’s proposed 2017-18 Budget item eliminating the Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI).  As part of this change, the In Home Support Services (IHSS) Maintenance of Effort (MOE) is also eliminated, thereby shifting increased costs, estimated to be an additional $623 million in FY 2017-18, to counties.  

The LAO’s 36 page report outlines challenges of the CCI and IHSS programs, and the methodology used by the Department of Finance in determining that the CCI program was no longer viable and therefore should be eliminated.  The LAO also makes recommendations to the Legislature on possible options for addressing the failing CCI program and mitigating the increased costs incurred by counties in the IHSS cost-sharing shift.  The full report can be accessed here.

Cap-and-Trade Revenues Fall Short Again

Revenues from the latest auction of carbon credits to comply with California's Cap-and-Trade program dropped steeply from November's more encouraging totals, renewing uncertainties surrounding the future of the program.  

Since inception, the program has typically netted more than half a billion dollars in each quarterly auction, padding the State's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for expenditures that have largely benefited urban areas and the High Speed Rail project.  However, 2016 saw a sharp decline in State auction revenues, with $10 million collected in May, and $8 million in August.  November's $365 million haul had supporters optimistic that the program was back on track, but the latest anemic numbers could spell trouble for the auction's future. 

California's Cap-and-Trade program has been the subject of controversy since its inclusion in the California Global Warming Solutions Act, commonly referred to as AB 32.  Many industries subject to the program have questioned its legality, with the program currently under legal challenge from the California Chamber of Commerce as a de facto tax.  The program is also set to end in 2020, but Governor Brown is asking the Legislature to extend the auction through 2050 and codify the program by a 2/3 vote, which would essentially nullify the lawsuit and theoretically eliminate the uncertainty surrounding the program. 

The full report on the February Cap-and-Trade revenues can be accessed here.

KEEPING UP

Update on Cabinet Secretary Confirmations

The Senate is continuing to work on President Trump’s cabinet secretary nominees.  This week, the Senate confirmed Ryan Zinke as the Secretary of the Interior, Ben Carson as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Rick Perry as the Secretary of Energy.  There is still no date set for a hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee for the nominee for the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. 

BULLETIN BOARD

UST Cleanup Fund: Tri-Annual Fund Updates and News Meetings

Click here

Open Solicitation: Urban Greening Grant Program

Click here

RFP: Sacramento District California In-Lieu Fee Program Spring 2017

Click here

PPIC Event: Water Stress and a Changing San Joaquin Valley

Click here

PPIC Report: Water Stress and a Changing San Joaquin Valley

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 percent to 30 percent 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 Health 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 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 Natural Resources 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 Public Safety 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 296 (Cervantes): Veterans Treatment Courts: Judicial Council Assessment.  Assembly Bill 296 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: AB 296 awaits action in the Assembly Public Safety 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 Revenue and Taxation Committee.  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 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 referral in the Assembly.  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 referral in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support if Amended

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 167 (Skinner): Supplemental Security Income & CalFresh: Pre-enrollment.  Senate Bill 167 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 167 awaits action in the Senate Human Services Committee.  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 Public Safety 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.  

California Forest Carbon Plan.  Provides opportunity for public comment on the State Forest Carbon Plan, which lays out a blueprint for forest management actions in California on all levels of forestland 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 March 17, 2017.  Draft proposal and related documents can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: RCRC is seeking member county input.  RCRC Advocate: 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 public workshops, and other related documents can be accessed hereRCRC Comments: Click here RCRC Advocates: 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 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

General Plan Safety Element Review and Assessment.  The proposed rule establishes a standardized review process for 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 Areas (SRA) or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.  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 welcomes 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