The Barbed Wire - June 15, 2018

June 15, 2018
You’re Invited!!! RCRC’s 2018 Annual Meeting Registration Now Open
The Rural Rundown: RCRC’s Analysis of the 2018-19 State Budget Package
Laptops Donated to Mendocino County Foster Youth
State Forms New Forest Management Task Force
Rural Broadband Update
2018 Farm Bill Update
The Rural Rundown Podcast: Episode #6 – Recap of California’s 2018 June Primary Election
THE RURAL RUNDOWN PODCAST
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

You’re Invited!!! RCRC’s 2018 Annual Meeting Registration Now Open

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…

The Rural Rundown: RCRC’s Analysis of the 2018-19 State Budget Package

Yesterday, both houses of the Legislature approved the state’s 2018-19 State Budget and a handful of budget trailer bills that assist in implementing the State Budget Package.  It should be noted that the State Budget Package remains incomplete – there are a number of remaining budget trailer bills awaiting action, including measures pertaining to Cap-and-Trade allocations and to address Disaster Response Emergency Operations.  Over the next several days and weeks, further items will be considered and adopted.

The $200 billion state spending plan includes $139 billion in General Fund expenditures, $57.1 billion in special fund expenditures, and $3.9 billion in bond expenditures.  Read More…

Laptops Donated to Mendocino County Foster Youth

Earlier this week, 42 gifted laptops were presented to local foster youth and former foster youth aged 16-21 in Mendocino County.  These laptops are part of a statewide distribution funded by the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) and National Homebuyers Fund, Inc. (NHF), through a partnership with iFoster.  Through this contribution and partnership, more than 1,100 laptop computers will be distributed to all eligible foster youth within RCRC’s 35-member counties.  

Late last year, RCRC and NHF’s Boards of Directors each approved providing $200,000 to support the 1 Laptop Program for Foster Youth.  Through this one-time $400,000 contribution, eligible foster youth and former foster youth in care within RCRC’s 35 counties will be provided a laptop, complete with the iFoster Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Assistant, which includes a HIPAA compliant secure online digital locker, accessible anywhere, anytime.  The laptop is fully integrated into iFoster’s resource portal and programs, providing access to more than 500 needed resources, and improved youth support networks. 

"RCRC and its affiliates have demonstrated a true commitment to improving the quality of life in California's rural counties," said Mendocino County Supervisor Carre Brown.  "I am grateful for this contribution to Mendocino County’s foster youth, and I am proud to be part of an organization that invests its resources in our local communities." 

Owning a computer addresses additional challenges for foster youth, including accessing needed resources and the loss or misplacement of important life documents as youth move from placement to placement.  A 2016 study of 730 youth across California who received iFoster computers found that only five percent of rural foster youth have consistent access to a computer in their homes, compared to 90 percent of all teens, and 79 percent of low-income teens (Pew Research Center, 2014).  When provided with a computer, 98 percent of youth reported using it on a daily or weekly basis, and statistically significant improvements were found in academic performance, social connectiveness, and life satisfaction.

State Forms New Forest Management Task Force

The State has officially launched the Forest Management Task Force (Task Force), a cooperative effort between State, federal, and local governments to tackle the myriad forest health issues facing California statewide.  The Task Force was initially announced by Governor Brown in his January State of the State Address to respond to the overarching need for better management of California’s forests and forested watersheds. 

The first meeting of the new Task Force took place on Monday, June 11, and was modeled on the Tree Mortality Task Force, a group of State, federal, and local agencies and interest groups that have been working together since October 2015 to address the State’s tree mortality emergency.  

The new Task Force will continue efforts on tree mortality, but will also focus on carrying out the directives contained in the Governor’s May 10th Executive Order, expanding the work of the group to address in detail forest management issues such as wood products utilization, regulatory barriers, education and outreach to landowners, forest restoration and prescribed fire using the State Strategic Fire Plan and Forest Carbon Plan as a roadmap.  The Task Force is set to meet monthly, and RCRC will continue its participation.  RCRC encourages interested counties to seek involvement in the Task Force subgroups as they are formed in the coming weeks.

Rural Broadband Update

On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai provided remarks at an event hosted by Axios.com.  Chairman Pai covered a broad range of policy issues, including rural broadband and the digital divide.  

Chairman Pai said his top priority for the remainder of his chairmanship is to close the digital divide, which he argues is the number one issue in internet policy today.  The FCC is softening regulations and issuing funds to help small providers build out broadband networks in rural markets at a more affordable rate.  On July 24, 2018, the FCC will administer the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auction to provide funds that support broadband deployment in rural areas.  CAF-II will provide $2 billion of funds to rural broadband programs over ten years to underserved communities.

Earlier this week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology approved legislation that would establish a new office within the Department of Commerce to streamline federal funding applications for broadband deployment programs.  H.R. 3994 would establish the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG) to help rural communities get access to high-speed broadband.  OICG will engage rural communities to develop best practices and strategies for promoting broadband access.  In addition, the office will streamline the application process for broadband support programs across all federal agencies.

2018 Farm Bill Update

Last Friday, the Senate Agriculture Committee released draft text for the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill.  S. 3042, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, has bipartisan support and received near unanimous approval of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  

The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes significant investments in rural economic development.  The Senate version includes language that establishes a minimum broadband service speed for projects funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  All projects funded by the USDA must provide a minimum broadband speed of 25 megabites per second (Mbps) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.  This language modernizes the USDA’s standard of broadband service to reflect the standard observed by the FCC.  In addition, the bill authorizes a multitude of funding and technical assistance programs to support rural broadband deployment.

S. 3042 will authorize new funding for forest management activities, and modernize regulation to improve forest resiliency on federal land.  The bill establishes a grant program for state foresters to carry out fuel reduction projects on federal and non-federal land.  The program is funded at $20 million annually through 2023.  In addition, the bill establishes the Water Source Protection Program to facilitate watershed restoration projects.

On Wednesday, the 2018 Farm Bill secured passage in the Committee by a 20-1 vote.  Committee Democrats and Republicans alike supported the bill and praised Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) for negotiating a bipartisan Farm Bill.  Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was the lone nay-vote.  Senator Grassley opposed the bill for its commodity programs and provisions that would legalize industrial hemp.

All 21 members of the panel were in attendance, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Senator McConnell is a strong supporter of the bill’s provisions to legalize the industrialization of hemp which he believes could be the next successful cash crop for Kentucky growers.  Senator McConnell pledged to bring the bill to the Senate Floor for a vote before the week-long July 4th recess.

The panel unanimously approved a manager’s amendment that contained 66 proposed amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill.  The Committee also considered several standalone amendments to the bill’s twelve titles.  Unfortunately, there is no language in S. 3042 to raise the population cap to 50,000 or standardize the multiple definitions of “rural” across the bill’s twelve titles.

The Rural Rundown Podcast: Episode #6 – Recap of California’s 2018 June Primary Election

In this episode of The Rural Rundown, Justin Caporusso, RCRC's Vice President of External Affairs sits down with Paul A. Smith, RCRC's Vice President of Governmental Affairs, to talk about the results of California's midterm election, impacts to rural areas of our state, and what to expect as we head into November.  Listen Here…

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.

PPIC Publication: The Impact of Proposition 47 on Crime and Recidivism

Click here

Sutter County Seeks Human Resources Director

Click here

Tehama County Seeks Social Services Director

Click here

Mariposa County Seeks Deputy Director of Public Works

Click here

State Water Resources Control Board Seeks Water Resource Control Engineers (2)

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 would authorize the Governor to enter into agreements concerning cannabis activities on lands of federally-recognized sovereign Indian tribes. Status: AB 924 awaits consideration in the Senate Business, Professions & Economic Development Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose

Assembly Bill 986 (Gallagher): Hunting and Sport Fishing Licenses.  Assembly Bill 986 would revise the duration of sport fishing licenses, and provide Veterans with a reduced-fee sport fishing license.  Status: AB 986 awaits consideration in the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

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 1772 (Aguiar-Curry): Fire Insurance Indemnity. Assembly Bill 1772 would extend the minimum limit during which an insured may collect the full replacement cost of a loss relating to a state of emergency to 36 months. Status:  AB 1722 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1800 (Levine): Fire Insurance. Assembly Bill 1800 relates to existing law which prohibits a fire insurance policy from limiting or denying payment of the replacement cost of property in the event the insured decides to rebuild or replace the property at a location other than the insured premises. Qualifies that prohibition by making it applicable in addition to any extended replacement cost coverage purchased by the insured and in addition to any increase in policy limits. Status: AB 1800 awaits action in the Senate. 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 Public Safety Committee.  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 awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. 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 consideration in the Senate Environmental Quality.  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 consideration in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. RCRC Position: Support

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 consideration in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. 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 consideration in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. 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 Environmental Quality Committee. 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 consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Position: Pending

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 consideration in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. 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 consideration in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. RCRC Position: Support If Amended

Senate Bill 623 (Monning): Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.  Senate Bill 623 would establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.  SB 623 would provide grants, loans, or services to assist those without access to safe and affordable drinking water. Status: SB 623 awaits consideration in the Assembly Rules Committee.  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 consideration in the Assembly Insurance 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 consideration in the Assembly Insurance Committee. 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 consideration in the Assembly Insurance Committee. 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: SB 919 awaits consideration in the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee.  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 consideration in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials 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 action in the Assembly. 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 consideration in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. 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 consideration in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 1302 (Lara): Cannabis: Local Jurisdiction: Prohibitions on Delivery. Senate Bill 1302 would prohibit a local jurisdiction from adopting or enforcement any ordinance that would prohibit a licensee from delivering cannabis within or outside of the jurisdictional boundaries of that local jurisdiction. Status: SB 1302 has been placed in the Senate Inactive File. RCRC Position: Oppose