The Barbed Wire - June 23, 2017

June 23, 2017
RCRC’s 2017 Annual Meeting: Register Today!!!
ACTION ALERT: Input Requested on RCRC-Opposed Small Cell Legislation Special Order Hearing
Supervisor Ron Hames Testifies in Support of RCRC-Sponsored Senate Bill 447
Public Lands Telecommunications Act Mark-Up
FAA Authorization and Reform Legislation
Healthcare Repeal and Replace Legislation Unveiled in Senate
Zinke Testifies on Capitol Hill on Interior FY 2018 Budget
Trump and Congress Focus on Rural Broadband Deployment
House Passes the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act
RCRC Launches Rural County Photo Contest
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC’s 2017 Annual Meeting: Register Today!!!

RCRC’s 2017 Annual Meeting will be held September 27-29 at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel in El Dorado County.  This year’s program will feature experts discussing a wide range of topics of interest to rural counties, including:

  • Daylight Saving – It’s Time for the Discussion
  • Opiate Drug Addiction and Rural County Impacts
  • A Rural Way of Life – Healthy of Harmful?
  • Unfairly Labeled?  Debating Intergenerational Dynamics

Registration is now open, and sponsorship opportunities are available.  Read More…

ACTION ALERT: Input Requested on RCRC-Opposed Small Cell Legislation Special Order Hearing

Senate Bill 649, authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), is scheduled for a special consideration hearing in the Assembly Local Government Committee on June 28, 2017 at 1:30 pm.  SB 649 would eliminate local consideration of the aesthetic and environmental impacts of “small cell” structures and require that those structures be allowed on public property in any zone in a city or county.  Additionally, SB 649 would limit the rent a local government could charge a wireless company to place a small cell structure on public property.  

RCRC and a coalition of local government partners have been working hard to defeat this poorly-crafted bill, and RCRC has been in discussions with legislators and key staff to share the extensive and negative impacts this bill may have on local governments.

RCRC urges Member Counties to join in opposition of this legislation, and attend the hearing to express their opposition.  The text of the bill can be accessed here. RCRC’s joint opposition letter can be accessed here.  

Supervisor Ron Hames Testifies in Support of RCRC-Sponsored Senate Bill 447

Earlier this week, Alpine County Supervisor Ron Hames testified before the Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee in support of RCRC-sponsored Senate Bill 447, authored by Senate Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama).  SB 447 authorizes two or more counties to create assessment appeals boards to hear taxpayer appeals.  

Supervisor Hames echoed the sentiment of many low-population counties stating that it is wise to maximize the use of assessment appeals boards given the complex nature of developing the county’s property tax roll. 

SB 447 passed out of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee and now awaits consideration in the Assembly. 

RCRC’s SB 447 support letter can be accessed here.

Public Lands Telecommunications Act Mark-Up

On Thursday, the House Committee on Natural Resources reviewed H.R. 2425, the “Public Lands Telecommunications Act.”  H.R. 2425, authored by Representative Jared Huffman (D-North Coast), would establish and improve broadband and telecommunications deployment on and near public lands.  

As currently written, H.R. 2425 would provide fee retention authority for rights-of-way and other telecommunications infrastructure.  This would ensure funds are reinvested to further broadband and telecommunications deployment.  In addition, it would provide cooperative agreement authority to federal land management agencies to breakdown funding silos, and encourage new federal partnerships.

RCRC’s H.R. 2425 support letter can be accessed here.  

FAA Authorization and Reform Legislation

This week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced a six-year reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act would increase funding for the Airport Improvement Program, which provides capital development grants to airports, without increasing the federal cap on the airport user fee, the passenger facility charge.  

The bill also continues the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which provided subsidized air service to many rural communities, and the Small Community Service Development Program, which has helped maintain limited air service to small and rural communities.  The bill includes a new pilot program, the regional air transportation pilot program, which would allow states and local governments to apply for grants to help subsidize air service to small and rural communities.  The bill also proposes to create a not-for-profit corporation to operate the nation’s air traffic control system, making it independent from the federal government.  Because of this provision, the bill has drawn opposition from most of the House Democrats, as well as from the general aviation community, and several aviation labor and consumer groups.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has scheduled a markup of the legislation next week. 

Healthcare Repeal and Replace Legislation Unveiled in Senate

On Thursday, seven years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senate Republican leadership unveiled a draft to overhaul the ACA.  The draft language was the first look at the direction Senate leadership hopes to take health care reform as the bill was mostly drafted behind closed doors.  

The bill would make major changes to the Medicaid program and would repeal the current requirement for people to buy insurance or face a yearly fine.  The bill would also maintain the ACA pre-existing conditions requirements for insurance companies, among other provisions included in the legislation.  The House has already passed the House Republicans’ version of a comprehensive healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).  The Senate could consider the Senate health care repeal and replace bill as soon as next week.

Zinke Testifies on Capitol Hill on Interior FY 2018 Budget

Department of the Interior (Interior) Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before three separate Congressional committees this week, all in defense of the Interior’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 Budget.  Zinke defended his Agency’s 2018 Budget, stating on several occasions “this is what a balanced budget looks like.”  During the hearing, several Members on both sides of the aisle raised strong objections to the proposed funding levels for both federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  

Regarding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Zinke indicated that he is a supporter of the program and wants to find a permanent fix; however, the 2018 Budget does not fund any new acquisitions because Interior needs to take care of what it currently has before adding new acquisitions. 

Zinke also discussed the upcoming reorganization of the Interior, referring to it as the “greatest reorganization in the history of the Department of the Interior.”  Zinke stated that the Interior is moving towards a new system of 13 “joint management areas.”  Zinke’s reorganization plans would shift staff from Washington, D.C. to out in the field.  Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that dozens of Senior Executive Service employees received letters informing them that they would be reassigned as early as the end of June.  Zinke declined to discuss any movement of specific employees at this time.  

Trump and Congress Focus on Rural Broadband Deployment

President Donald Trump said that expanded access to broadband internet service in rural areas will be part of the infrastructure plan he will submit to Congress, helping to bridge a digital divide between rural and urban America.

During a June 21, 2017 rally in Cedar Rapids Iowa, the President claimed, “I will be including a provision in our infrastructure proposal… to promote and foster, enhanced broadband access for rural America.”  While aboard Air Force One, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters, “we think we ought to have the same push to have broadband connectivity all over the country,” because broadband deployment has become an “infrastructure of necessity,” in the 21st century.

On June 20, 2017, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on updating the “Universal Service Fund” for the benefit of broadband deployment in rural areas.  In addition, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government held a hearing on the FCC’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request.  Throughout the hearing, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai emphasized that rural broadband deployment is the number one priority for the Commission. Federal investment in broadband infrastructure is needed in rural counties where millions of Americans are underserved by private carriers. 

House Passes the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act

The Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act, H.R. 1654, was voted on and passed by the House on June 22, 2017.  Introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA-04), this bill establishes a new bureaucratic framework and permitting process for construction of new surface water storage projects.

Within this framework, agencies can coordinate their schedules, share data, and make their findings publicly available to foster transparency.  H.R. 1654 establishes the Bureau of Reclamation as the agency of jurisdiction regarding surface water storage projects on land owned by the Department of Interior or Agriculture.  Before the final vote, the House voted to accept an amendment to H.R. 1654, submitted by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01), containing provisions for the enhancement of federal cooperation in State-led water storage projects.  Specifically, the amendment will ensure State-led projects are eligible for permit streamlining under H.R. 1654.

RCRC Launches Rural County Photo Contest

RCRC has launched the 2017 Rural County Photo Contest!  Kicking off July 1, 2017, the Rural County Photo Contest was created to promote tourism and local economic development through showcasing the beautiful landscape, scenery, activities, history, and charm of RCRC’s member counties.  Read More…

KEEPING UP

Monica Rosenthal, 58, of Middletown, has been appointed to the 49th District Agricultural Association, Lake County Fair Board of Directors. Rosenthal has been an owner at Rosenthal Vineyards since 1995. She is a member of Soroptimist International of Clear Lake. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Rosenthal is a Democrat.

BULLETIN BOARD

Kirkwood Meadows Public Utility District Seeks General Manager

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 84 (Mullin): Primary Elections: Election Date.  Assembly Bill 84 would require the presidential primary election to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March.  AB 84 would also require that the statewide direct primary election be held on that same day and consolidated with the presidential primary election during a presidential primary election year.  Status: AB 84 awaits action in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose

Assembly Bill 168 (Eggman): Employers: Salary Information.  Assembly Bill 168 would prohibit an employer from seeking salary history information from an applicant for employment.  Status: AB 168 recently secured passage in the Senate Rules Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose

Assembly Bill 174 (Bigelow): California Transportation Commission (CTC): Membership.  Assembly Bill 174 would require that at least one voting member serving on the California Transportation Commission reside in a rural county with a population less than 100,000 individuals.  Status: AB 174 awaits action in the Senate Transportation and Housing 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 the consideration of the Governor.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 653 (Ridley-Thomas): Property Taxation: Exemption: Indian Tribes.  Assembly Bill 653 would exempt from taxation property owned in fee by a federally-recognized Native American tribe.  Status: SB 653 awaits action in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose

Assembly Bill 1069 (Low): Local Government: Taxicab Transportation Services.  Assembly Bill 1069 would make changes to the local licensing of taxicabs.  Status: AB 1069 awaits action in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose

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 action in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose

Senate Bill 568 (Lara): Primary Elections: Election Date.  Senate Bill 568 would permanently place the Presidential Primary Election and the Gubernatorial Primary Election in March.  Status: SB 568 recently secured passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Oppose

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.