The Barbed Wire - June 9, 2017

June 9, 2017
RCRC Hosts Inaugural Trade Services Workshop in Tuolumne County
Broadband Access and Disadvantaged Communities Widen the Urban-Rural Divide
RCRC Joins Local Government Partners in Opposition to Senate Bill 649
IHSS Budget Trailer Bill Released
Conference Committee Concludes Work on 2017-18 State Budget
Oversight Hearing Held on California Tribes and Cannabis
U.S. Forest Service Chief Testifies before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
Zinke Testifies before House Appropriations Subcommittee
Zinke and Perdue Work Together on Wildfires
White House Pushes Infrastructure Week
Senate Hearing on FAA Reauthorization
RCRC Hosts Showcasing Rural Life: RCRC Seeking Local Photography for Instagram Account
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC Hosts Inaugural Trade Services Workshop in Tuolumne County

On Wednesday, RCRC and the Northern California Center for International Trade Development (CITD) hosted the first in a series of Regional Trade Workshops scheduled throughout the state.  RCRC and CITD partnered with the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority, and the U.S. Department of Commerce Sacramento U.S. Export Assistance Center to bring this free export services workshop to the mother lode region to teach local, small business owners the basics of starting or enhancing opportunities for exporting products and/or services from California’s rural counties to the global market.  

“While international trade opportunities are becoming more of a reality for rural business ventures, it’s often challenging to know where to start,” said RCRC Second Vice Chair Randy Hanvelt (Tuolumne).  “These RCRC workshops are designed to provide a high-level overview of the exporting process, and bring resources and funding opportunities to small business owners and entrepreneurs in California’s rural counties.  Thriving rural businesses make the California economy stronger, and more balanced.”

Additional workshops are in the planning stages.  Details on the panelists, including individual contact information, can be accessed here.  Individual panelists’ presentations can be accessed here.  Images from the Mother Lode Regional Trade Workshop can be accessed here.

Broadband Access and Disadvantaged Communities Widen the Urban-Rural Divide

A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Rural Californians fear concerns unheard by big-city politicians” highlighted the rural-urban divide experienced in our state.  RCRC Chair Bob Williams (Tehama) weighed in on the article, discussing two solutions to help level the playing field.  Read More…

RCRC Joins Local Government Partners in Opposition to Senate Bill 649

RCRC, the California State Association of Counties, Urban Counties of California, the League of California Cities, and the California Chapter of the American Planning Association have joined forces in opposition to Senate Bill 649 authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) related to “small cell” siting.  SB 649 would strip public input, limit full discretionary review, and remove the ability for counties to negotiate leases for the installation of “small cell” technology on public property.  

Through SB 649, counties will be required to allow these not-so-small structures on public property in any city or county zone.  Furthermore, SB 649 will prohibit cities and counties from charging market rate for lease of public property, and instead, caps the rental rates at an arbitrarily low amount.  SB 649 does not require installation of 5G technology, nor require the wireless industry to build their networks in these communities, and expressly prohibits a county from negotiating increased broadband services as a condition of a “small cell” permit. SB 649 does not create jobs, but instead erodes local input on community aesthetics and devalues taxpayer- invested public property.

SB 649 passed out of the Senate on May 31, 2017 on a 32-1 vote, and now awaits referral to policy committee in the Assembly.  RCRC has urged individual member county opposition to this legislation.

IHSS Budget Trailer Bill Released

This week, the Department of Finance released Trailer Bill language that would establish a new In-Home Support Services (IHSS) Maintenance of Effort (MOE) for all 58 counties.  This language must be approved by the Legislature, and signed by the Governor, to stop the action taken in the Governor’s 2017-18 proposed Budget that repealed the IHSS MOE and shifted an estimated $623 million in additional costs to Counties.  Most significantly, the new proposal provides for State General Fund (GF) contributions of $400 million in the first year to offset the increased county cost of the new MOE.  The proposal will also redirect Vehicle License Fee growth for Health, Mental Health and the County Medical Services Program (only for CMSP counties) for five years as additional assistance in bridging the increased IHSS costs.  

Other key provisions of the proposal include:

  • State GF contributions of  $330 million in the second year, $200 million in the third year, and $150 million ongoing;
  • An annual inflator starting in year two of 5 percent, and rising to 7 percent in year three and thereafter. The inflator will be reduced by half or suspended based on sales tax performance;
  • “Re-opener” language that brings  the Administration and counties back into negotiations to discuss the provisions of this bill and impacts on counties;
  • Real-time caseload funding (currently accrual funding) for IHSS that provides $140 million in the first year to mitigate impacts on counties;
  • Forgiveness for costs associated with the  Board of Equalization Error through 2015-16;  
  • Availability of loans to counties experiencing hardship due to the IHSS cost shift, up to $25 million year statewide;
  • IHSS county Administration costs will be included in MOE, but with an annually adjusted cap based on State budgeting methodology;
  • Local bargaining for IHSS worker contracts and a requirement that agreements not in place within nine months must be referred to the Public Employee Relations Board;
  • Institutes of Mental Disease rate freeze for five years to avoid approximately $15 million in annual increased county mental health costs funded through Realignment; and,
  • Nullification of potential county lawsuits related to the determination in Governor’s January proposed budget to repeal the MOE.

The Trailer Bill language will be taken up in the Senate and Assembly next week as part of the State Budget package.  A full copy of the Administration’s IHSS proposal can be accessed here.  

Conference Committee Concludes Work on 2017-18 State Budget

This week, the Budget Conference Committee concluded deliberations on key Budget issues of difference between the State Senate and Assembly, including K-12, Higher education, Health, Human Services, Public Safety, Judicial, Labor, State Administration, General Government, Transportation, and Resources Budget issues.  

The purpose of the Budget Conference Committee is for members from the Assembly and Senate to meet and reconcile Budget issues where they approved different actions pertaining to the same Budget items.  A Conference Committee Report will be produced which will become the foundation for the final Budget.  It is expected that in areas where the Budget Conference Committee is unable to reach a compromise, legislative leadership will meet privately with the Governor to finalize. 

The Budget Conference Committee is comprised of both the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees, and includes:

  • Chair, Assembly Member Phil Ting (D – San Francisco)
  • Chair, Senator Holly Mitchell (D – Los Angeles)
  • Assembly Member Phillip Chen (R –Diamond Bar)
  • Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D – Sacramento)
  • Assembly Member Jay Obernolte (R – Big Bear Lake)
  • Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D – San Diego)
  • Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula (D – Fresno)  (Alternate)
  • Senator Ricardo Lara (D – Bell Gardens)
  • Senator Richard Roth (D – Riverside)
  • Senator Jim Nielsen (R – Gerber)
  • Senator John Moorlach (R – Costa Mesa)

Key RCRC issues include funding for the Certified Unified Program Agencies, the Beverage Container Recycling Fund, the Community Development Block Grant Program, the State Responsibility Area fire prevention fees, the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force, and the issue of administration of justice. 

The Legislature has until June 15, 2017 to pass the 2017-18 State Budget, and the enacted Budget is expected to take effect on July 1, 2017.

Oversight Hearing Held on California Tribes and Cannabis

This week, the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, chaired by Assembly Member Adam Gray (D-Merced), convened an oversight hearing on the possible regulatory framework for commercial cannabis on sovereign lands.  Assembly Member Gray and Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) provided opening remarks.  The Legislative Analyst’s Office provided a brief overview of cannabis regulation in California, noting that current state law does not expressly mention tribal activities or sovereign lands.  The overview was followed by three panels that provided state, tribal, and industry perspective.  

The panel that provided the state perspective included Dean Grafilo, Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Lori Ajax, Chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, and Amber Morris, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Branch Chief for the ‎California Department of Food and Agriculture. 

The second panel provided the tribal perspective, and included Chairpersons from the Rincon Ban of Luiseno Indians, Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, Utu Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe, Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians, and the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysbael.  The Chairpersons expressed their desire to participate in the regulated market, however, with an alternative and flexible approach that would not necessarily include local permitting. 

The last panel provided the industry perspective, and included Amy Jenkins, Legislative Advocate for the California Cannabis Industry Association, Hezekiah Allen, Executive Director for the California Growers Association, and Chrystal Ortiz, Board Member for the International Cannabis Farmers Association.

RCRC consultant Jean Hurst testified during the public comment period and affirmed rural counties’ support of the development of a mechanism for Indian tribes to participate in California's regulated cannabis marketplace.  RCRC’s testimony emphasized that this mechanism must ensure that tribal entities participating in the regulated marketplace adhere to standards set forth under the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act – including public safety and local control.  Sheriff Thomas Allman of Mendocino County also provided comments emphasizing the potential public safety impact of cannabis activities on local communities, and the need for county governments to have a role in any state regulatory scheme for cannabis activities on tribal lands. 

U.S. Forest Service Chief Testifies before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee

The Senate Appropriations Interior and the Environment Subcommittee held a hearing on the President’s FY18 Budget proposal for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  During the hearing, USFS Chief Tom Tidwell stated that he was confident timber sales from national forests will increase during the next fiscal year, despite proposed budget cuts for the USFS.  

Several Senators have expressed concerns about the decline in timber sales, and the impact of these declining sales have on their schools and communities in their states.  Senators on both sides of the aisle also expressed concerns about the proposed funding cuts, as well as frustration that the budget did not include a plan to fix the practice of fire borrowing.

Zinke Testifies before House Appropriations Subcommittee

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before the House Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee regarding the FY18 Department of the Interior proposed Budget.  The Administration’s FY18 proposed Budget for Interior represents an overall cut of $600 million from the FY17 enacted levels.  

Zinke defended the proposed Budget, calling it balanced, and explaining that it’s intended to eliminate duplicative programs.  Both Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns about the proposed cuts.  Republicans were unhappy with the proposed cuts to several programs, including the Abandoned Mine Land grant program and earthquake monitoring, while Democrats opposed the call for more drilling and the lack of acknowledgment of climate science.  

Zinke and Perdue Work Together on Wildfires

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue signed a joint memorandum discussing the importance that the two agencies continue to work together on the issue of fighting wildfires.  

The memo seems to indicate the Administration is going to continue with current policy regarding wildfires.   

White House Pushes Infrastructure Week

Hoping to advance President Trump’s plan to invest up to $1 trillion in the nation’s infrastructure, the White House scheduled a series of events this week to highlight specific aspects of the initiative.  

On Monday, the President met with airline executives and announced his support for a non-profit corporation to run the nation’s air traffic control system.  On Wednesday, he travelled to Ohio, where he focused on the condition of the nation’s waterways.  On Thursday, following a White House meeting with mayors and governors, the White House posted an online statement that the President’s plan would devote “$100 billion for local prioritization of infrastructure needs…$15 billion for transformative projects…[and] $25 billion for rural infrastructure.”  There were no specifics on how this ten-year plan would be allocated.

Senate Hearing on FAA Reauthorization

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing to explore the Administration’s proposal to separate air traffic control operations from the FAA and move it to a private, nonprofit organization.  

Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was the hearing’s only witness.  Chairman John Thune (R-SD) did not take a position on the proposal, but cautioned that many small, rural airports have expressed concerns about user fees set by the new organization being set too high and threaten air service and negatively impact general aviation in and out of rural communities.  Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) expressed his opposition to the proposal saying that he believed Congress was a better overseer of the national airspace than a 13-member board proposed under the Administration’s plan.  Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) also expressed concerns about the proposal saying “this is a tough sell in states like my state of Mississippi, where small airports are concerned.”  Secretary Chao did not add any new details to the Administration’s plan, leaving questions like how much the air traffic control assets are worth, how much a new entity would be able to borrow, and whether the government would be providing guarantees on its debt.

RCRC Hosts Showcasing Rural Life: RCRC Seeking Local Photography for Instagram Account

We invite you to get out your camera and capture life in rural California by showcasing the beautiful landscape and scenery in your communities.  It might be a scenic waterway, wildlife, livestock, barns, snowy landscapes, seasons, farm and ranch photos – we’d love to see your photos and feature them on our Instagram!  

All photographs must be the original work of the participant, or must have the photographer’s written permission. By submitting a photo, you give RCRC the right to use the photo on our website or in future newsletters and publications.

Pictures can be emailed to Santinia Pasquini at spasquini@rcrcnet.org.  Please include a description of your photo. 

BULLETIN BOARD

Imperial County Seeks Deputy County Executive Officer

Click here

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Repair Housing

Click here

PPIC Report: Building Drought Resilience in California’s Cities and Suburbs

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” for the Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program (Program) to include rural area clinics that have 30 percent of patients from medically underserved populations. 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 Senate Health 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 Senate.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 168 (Wieckowski): Beverage Container Recycling Act of 2017.  Senate Bill 168 would amend the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act, which is administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. SB 168 would require distributors of beverage containers in the state to form a beverage container stewardship organization. Status: SB 168 was placed on Senate inactive file.  RCRC Position: Watch

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 action in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Watch

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.  

Intention to Review and Rescind or Revise the Clean Water Rule.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are taking public comment on their review of the Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States,” which was finalized under the previous Administration.  The review is being conducted as a result of the February, 2017 Executive Order 13132 on Federalism, issued by President Trump.  The agencies are encouraging local governments to file comments on the review.  Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Status: Initial comments are due by June 19, 2017.  The Federal Register notice can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org

Draft Climate Change Work Plan.  The Climate Change Work Plan is a strategy to address climate-related issues impacting water in the Central Valley Region.  The Plan will both present current and proposed efforts to respond to climate change as well as prioritize major efforts to promote climate resiliency.  Agency: Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Status: Comments on the initial draft are due by June 29, 2017.  The draft Plan can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org

Draft Surface Mining Operation Annual Inspections Regulations.  The proposed amended regulatory language is intended to implement the improvements and updates to Public Resources Code Section 2774 based upon the statutory changes made by Assembly Bill 1142 (Grey, 2016).  Agency: Department of Conservation State Mining and Geology Board Status: The draft was published April 28, 2017, with comments due by June 12, 2017.  The notice and draft update can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Draft Report Safeguarding California Plan:  2017 Update – California’s Climate Adaptation Strategy.  The Safeguarding California Plan: 2017 Update identifies overarching strategies for climate change adaptation.  The document outlines ongoing actions and cost-effective and achievable steps to make California more resilient to climate change across ten different policy areas: agriculture, biodiversity and habitat, forests, ocean and coast, water, emergency management, energy, land use and community development, public health, and transportation.  Agency: Natural Resources Agency Status: The draft was released on May 8, 2017.  Six public meetings are planned in May and June. The final version incorporating public comments is scheduled for release in July 2017.  The draft update and scheduled public meeting details can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org or 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 were held in February and March 2017 throughout the Central Valley.  The CVFP Board held four workshops in April and May 2017 and is holding the last scheduled workshop on June 9, 2017.  The draft update, draft Supplemental Program EIS, and scheduled workshop details can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org