The Barbed Wire - March 10, 2017

March 10, 2017
Senate Committees Continue Review of Transportation Funding Proposal
Update on In-Home Support Services Cost Shift to Counties
President Trump Expected to Approve BLM Planning Rule Repeal
LAO Releases Report on Housing
Senators Introduce Legislation regarding Land and Water Conservation Fund
Secretary Zinke Testifies at Senate Indian Affairs Hearing
California Emerging Technology Fund Hosts Forum on Broadband in Agriculture
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

Senate Committees Continue Review of Transportation Funding Proposal

This week, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved Senate Bill 1 (Beall) – a proposal to better fund the existing state and local transportation systems.  Passage of SB 1 in the Governance and Finance Committee concludes a review of the measure by three policy committees in the State Senate.  The measure now awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations in the coming weeks.  

A similar proposal in the State Assembly – Assembly Bill 1 (Frazier) – has yet to be slated for review.  Both measures would enact significant tax increases on motor fuels, as well as impose new/additional fees on motorists, in order to address the existing maintenance backlog on existing roads, streets, and highways.  In SB 1’s procession through the Senate’s committee review process the bill has garnered no Republican member votes, and a handful of Democrat members expressed concerns.  Passage of SB 1 requires a 2/3rds vote in both houses of the Legislature.  

The RCRC Board of Directors will be discussing SB1 and AB 1 at the March 15, 2017 meeting in Sacramento.

Update on In-Home Support Services Cost Shift to Counties

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services held a hearing this week on the Governor’s action which eliminates the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) Maintenance of Effort (MOE).  This change is estimated to shift an additional $623 million in costs to counties in the upcoming fiscal year.  In the Subcommittee deliberations, staff outlined a package of recommendations aimed at mitigating the impacts upon counties if the Governor’s actions proceed.  

RCRC staff, along with other county partners including the California State Association of Counties, the County Welfare Directors Association, and the County Behavioral Health Directors Association, continued to voice opposition to the Governor’s action in early January to eliminate the MOE; however, there was an expression by all to maintain an ongoing discussion with the Assembly’s alternative proposal.  The Subcommittee voted to “keep the item open” and have it heard again in two weeks.  

Detailed information on the Assembly’s draft proposal can be accessed here.

President Trump Expected to Approve BLM Planning Rule Repeal

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted to approve H.J. Res. 44, a joint resolution to repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Planning 2.0 Rule which was finalized in late 2016.  The Senate approval was the final step for the resolution before it moves to President Trump’s desk for his expected signature.  BLM administers 264 million acres of public lands, primarily in 12 western states, with 15.2 million acres in California.  

The Planning 2.0 Rule was initiated last year as an update to the process BLM uses to amend and revise its local resource management plans.  While the relationships between BLM and local governments historically have been cooperative, the rule weakened much of the agency’s requirements to collaborate and coordinate with counties on land management decisions and complicated many of the public participation components of the planning process.  The rulemaking process for adopting Planning 2.0 itself also lacked meaningful outreach to local governments, and many felt the process was rushed in order to ensure adoption before a new Administration took office. 

RCRC joined with a broad coalition of local government stakeholders, led by the National Association of Counties, early in 2017 to urge Congress to review Planning 2.0 because of its potential impacts to counties with substantial BLM land holdings.  The joint letter can be accessed here.

Full text of H.J. Res. 44, along with its history of Congressional actions, can be accessed here.

LAO Releases Report on Housing

This week, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report on California’s housing shortage, with specific focus on how cities and counties plan for community development.  In Do Communities Adequately Plan for Housing, the LAO outlines the current process of home planning and building, and makes a number of suggestions to address issues that are slowing needed development.  

Some recommendations include modifying Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals, increasing local fiscal incentives, and streamlining local approvals.  However, according to the LAO, while the Legislature can take some steps to improve the planning and development process, ultimately, residents will need to shift their view of building new homes before California will see a real change in addressing the housing shortfall.

The full report can be accessed here.

Senators Introduce Legislation regarding Land and Water Conservation Fund

This week, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced legislation entitled the “Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act” (S. 569).  The legislation would permanently authorize and fully fund at $900 million the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  

The legislation would also mandate that a portion of the annual authorized funding amount be available for projects that secure recreational public access to existing Federal public lands for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes.  Senator Feinstein has signed onto the legislation as an original cosponsor. 

Secretary Zinke Testifies at Senate Indian Affairs Hearing

Late this week, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in a hearing entitled “Identifying Indian Affairs Priorities for the Trump Administration.”  During the hearing, Secretary Zinke emphasized his commitment to tribal sovereignty, stating “In my experience, one thing is clear: sovereignty should mean something.”  

Additionally, Secretary Zinke talked about the need to improve infrastructure in Native American communities, tribal health care, the passage of the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, and consultation between Native American tribes and the federal government.  

California Emerging Technology Fund Hosts Forum on Broadband in Agriculture

On Wednesday, the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) hosted a forum titled Broadband in Agriculture (Forum) in Sacramento.  The Forum provided an opportunity for a broad base of rural broadband deployment advocates to meet and continue the discussion on closing the digital divide in California’s rural communities.  More specifically, the Forum provided an update on two pilot projects currently underway in Yolo and Fresno counties.  

The purpose of the pilot projects is to research and document the impact of broadband in agriculture, and demonstrate the benefit of utilizing cutting edge precision agricultural technology to help growers maximize production while conserving water and energy, and improving the overall health of their land.  The precision agricultural technology requires broadband to collect, analyze and transmit vast amounts of information, and the results of this project will provide data on the need for broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas throughout the counties.  The results are also expected to demonstrate the tremendous benefits resulting from broadband deployment.

The pilot projects are a joint effort between CETF, Valley Vision, AgStart, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, TransValley AgTech, and the U.S.D.A.  In addition to these presentations, there were several rural broadband industry experts and advocates in attendance to share their expertise, ideas and recommendations on the following questions:

  • How important is broadband to California’s agricultural industry?
  • What are the policies and strategies that should be embraced by the State and federal government (Farm Bill) to promote broadband connectivity for the agricultural industry?
  • What should the Forum participants do to be helpful and effective?
  • Broadband industry leaders, current and former State Legislatures, policy-makers, farmers and growers, and other experts discussed the overall impact broadband deployment would have throughout California’s rural communities, and the potential economic development benefits that would occur should a broad coalition of the aforementioned work together to find ways to finance efforts to bring high-speed broadband throughout all regions of California.  In general, all participants agreed that broadband is one of the most critical infrastructure priorities and that ubiquitous broadband deployment would have a significantly positive impact to the State and local economies, and improve the overall quality of life of rural and other unserved and underserved Californians.  California cannot afford to wait any longer.  High-speed broadband is the future and without significant action, rural Californians risk falling even further behind their more urban and suburban neighbors.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Health Care Provider Telecommunication Reimbursement Program

RCRC and Solix, Inc. have teamed up to provide a vehicle through the Federal Rural Health Care Program to help eligible health care providers receive a reimbursement for telecommunication, internet, and broadband services.  Each year, the FCC allocates $400 million for this program, and until recently, less than 50 percent of the available funds were awarded.  However, this program continues to gain in popularity, and the initial filing window opened on March 1, 2017, and runs through June 30, 2017.

Solix, Inc. has administered the program on behalf of the federal government for over 16 years, and has assisted hundreds of eligible health care providers in lowering their telecommunications, internet, and broadband costs.  Solix, Inc.’s expertise in completing the required documentation and fulfilling the administrative requirements ensures applications move along with minimal delay, and that eligible health care facilities receive the maximum reimbursement.  Solix, Inc. also handles the complex application process on behalf of health care providers, and minimizes internal staff resource requirements.

Rural, non-profit health departments, community health/mental health centers, clinics, hospitals, and skilling nursing facilities may be eligible for reimbursement.  For more information on this program details on how to realize savings for your organization, complete this short questionnaire

KEEPING UP

George Kenline, 53, of Yucaipa, has been reappointed to the State Mining and Geology Board, where he has served since 2013.  Kenline has been a mining and engineering geologist for San Bernardino County since 2013 and from 2006 to 2012.  He was senior environmental services supervisor at Molycorp from 2012 to 2013 and an associate geologist at Secor International Inc. from 1993 to 2006.  Kenline is a registered engineering geologist and hydrogeologist.  This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem.  Kenline is registered without party preference.

Bethany Pane, 39, of Sacramento, has been appointed chief counsel at the Delta Stewardship Council, where she has been acting chief counsel since 2016 and has served as an attorney since 2015.  Pane was an attorney at the State Water Resources Control Board from 2011 to 2015 and staff counsel at the California Department of Housing and Community Development from 2008 to 2011, where she served as a legislative analyst from 2000 to 2001.  She was an associate attorney at Holland and Knight LLP from 2005 to 2008 and an associate attorney and summer associate at Stoel Rives LLP from 2004 to 2005.  Pane served as a judicial extern for the Honorable William Alsup at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California in 2002, a legislative analyst in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research from 1999 to 2000 and an assembly fellow in the Office of Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl from 1998 to 1999.  She is a member of the State Bar of California, Environmental Law Section.  Pane earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.  This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $150,720.  Pane is a Democrat.

Jill LeVake, 42, of Yuba City, has been appointed to the 13th District Agricultural Association, Yuba-Sutter Fair Board of Directors.  LeVake has been a technical sales advisor at Dow AgroSciences since 1998.  She is a member of the St. Vincent De Paul Society, California Women for Agriculture and the California Association of Pest Control Advisers.  This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.  LeVake is a Republican.

Jennifer Matteoli, 42, of Yuba City, has been appointed to the 13th District Agricultural Association, Yuba-Sutter Fair Board of Directors.  Matteoli has been a partner at Black Fox Brand since 2015.  She has been a fitness instructor at In-Shape since 2008 and a partner at Matteoli Brothers since 2000.  Matteoli was a lab manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred from 1999 to 2000.  This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.  Matteoli is a Republican.

BULLETIN BOARD

Governor Brown Declares State of Emergency, Requests Presidential Major Disaster Declaration Due to Recent Storms

Click here

Free Webinar: Implications of the "Private Device Communications" Ruling for Public Officials and Staff

Click here

USDA Sustainable Communities Funding Application Period Open

Click here

Application Period Opens for Water Storage Investment Projects

The Office of Administrative Law has recently approved the California Water Commission Water Storage Investment Projects.  This paves the way for the applicants to submit water projects beginning March 14.

Click here

Calaveras County has current open job openings for Business Administrator, Administrative Service Officer I/II (FT), Administrative Service Officer I/II (PT) Administrative Assistant I/II, Senior Engineer and Associate Engineer

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% to 30% 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 376 (Chavez): Veteran’s Benefits: Veteran Farmers or Ranchers.  Assembly Bill would require the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, in coordination with other state agencies to identify and disseminate specified information to assist veterans in entering farming or ranching careers.  Status: AB 376 awaits action in the Assembly Labor and Employment.  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 771 (Quirk): Burning of Forest Lands: Forest Land Owners.  Assembly Bill 771 would require CalFIRE, in consultation with the Air Resources Board, to develop a page on its website that provides pertinent information on prescribed burn regulations.  This measure would also require the department to develop a uniform prescribed burn template that would provide information regarding best management practices associated with the planning and implementation of a prescribed burn.  Status: AB 771 awaits action in the Assembly Natural Resources 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 188 (Jackson): Emergency Management Assistance Compact.  Senate Bill 188 would extend the sunset date of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.  Status: SB 188 awaits action in the Senate Governmental Organization 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

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