The Barbed Wire - March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017
RCRC Chair and Staff Visit Calaveras County
No Place Like Home Advisory Committee to Hold First Meeting
RCRC Comments on State Water Board Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay Delta
President Trump’s “Skinny” Budget
House Agriculture Committee Holds Farm Bill Forestry Hearing
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC Chair and Staff Visit Calaveras County

On Tuesday, RCRC Chair Bob Williams (Tehama), RCRC President and CEO, Greg Norton, and RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocates Staci Heaton and Mary Pitto provided an organizational overview and update on the Governmental Affairs team’s 2017/18 legislative and regulatory priorities to the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors.  

Mr. Norton provided an update on RCRC’s affiliate programs, Golden State Finance Authority, and National Homebuyers Fund, and give back programs related to veterans housing, human trafficking education, and disaster assistance.  RCRC staff discussed the Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority, and the current status of legislative and regulatory efforts related to disadvantaged communities, State Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), local marijuana taxes, multi-county Assessment Appeals Boards, the IHSS cost shift, funding for state and local transportation needs, and wildfire funding, among others.

A synopsis of RCRC’s 2017-18 legislative priorities can be accessed in a recent article from Supervisor Williams, titled The Year Ahead for California’s Rural Counties

No Place Like Home Advisory Committee to Hold First Meeting

The No Place Like Home (NPLH) Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting next week in Sacramento.  The NPLH program authorizes roughly $2 billion in bond funding to counties for construction or reconstruction of permanent supportive housing for individuals who are living with mental illness, and chronically homeless.  

The Advisory Committee is comprised of 15 members, including State agencies and appointees, and is tasked with assisting and advising the Department of Housing and Community Development on the implementation of the NPLH program.  Detailed information on the meeting and the NPLH program can be accessed here.

RCRC Comments on State Water Board Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay Delta

The State Water Resources Control Board recently released their draft Scientific Basis Report (Report) to support the update of the Bay Delta Plan’s protection of fish and wildlife beneficial uses in the Sacramento River Watershed and related areas, known as Phase II. 

RCRC provided written comments to the State Water Resources Control Board expressing concern in a variety of areas including sustainable groundwater management, upstream issues, and an overarching need or integrated water management, which the unimpaired flow approach in the Report does not address.  RCRC’s comment letter can be accessed here.

President Trump’s “Skinny” Budget

On Thursday, President Trump released his so-called “skinny” budget, which is a blueprint for his fiscal year 2018 budget proposal.  The budget largely focused on spending reductions to domestic spending, as the President had earlier announced his intent to shift $54 billion in spending on domestic agencies to defense spending.  There were several provisions of interest for RCRC counties, although there were very few details provided in the budget document.  

Some of the highlights include:

Department of Interior

  • Supports counties through discretionary funding for the Federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program at a reduced level, but in line with average funding for Federal PILT over the past decade;
  • Attempts to ensure that National Park Service assets are preserved for future generations by increasing investment in deferred maintenance projects.  Reduces funds for other DOI construction and major maintenance programs, which can rely on existing resources for 2018; and,
  • Invests over $1 billion in safe, reliable, and efficient management of water resources throughout the western United States.

Department of Agriculture

  • Fully funds wildland fire preparedness and suppression activities at $2.4 billion, 100 percent of the 10-year average for suppression operations; and,
  • Reduces funding for lower priority activities in the National Forest System, such as major new Federal land acquisition; instead, the Budget focuses on maintaining existing forests and grasslands.

Department of Transportation

  • Eliminates funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which was originally established as a temporary program nearly 40 years ago to provide subsidized commercial air service to rural airports; and,
  • Eliminates funding for the TIGER discretionary grant program, which awards grants to projects that are generally eligible for funding under existing surface transportation formula programs, cutting $499 million from the 2017 annualized CR level.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • Eliminates funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, cutting $3 billion.

The budget blueprint is the first step that will continue over the coming months, as Congress takes the President’s proposal and begins drafting its own budget and appropriations bills.  That is a process that will begin in May and continue through the remainder of the year. 

House Agriculture Committee Holds Farm Bill Forestry Hearing

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee held a hearing entitled “The Next Farm Bill: Forestry Initiatives.”  This hearing is one in a series that the Committee is holding to begin to set the stage for the next farm bill.  Of particular interest to RCRC, several witnesses expressed their support for a wildfire funding fix, as well as the important role that the farm bill can play in supporting rural economies.

KEEPING UP

Tam Doduc, 50, of Sacramento, has been reappointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has served since 2005.  Doduc served in several positions at the California Environmental Protection Agency from 2000 to 2005, including deputy secretary for environmental quality, assistant secretary for air and chemical programs, assistant secretary for agriculture and chemical programs and assistant secretary for technology certification.  She was an air resources engineer at the California Air Resources Board from 1997 to 2000 and served as special assistant to the secretary at the California Environmental Protection Agency from 1995 to 1997 and from 1993 to 1994.  Doduc was a water resources engineer at the State Water Resources Control Board from 1994 to 1995 and from 1989 to 1992.  She has been a registered professional civil engineer since 1995.  Doduc earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Business and a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from California State University, Sacramento.  This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $142,095.  Doduc is a Democrat.

Joaquin Esquivel, 34, of La Quinta, has been appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board.  Esquivel has served as assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency since 2015.  He served in several positions in the Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer from 2007 to 2015, including research assistant, legislative aide and legislative assistant for water and agriculture issues, and director of information and technology.  Esquivel was a center youth manager for Gay Associated Youth from 2002 to 2004.  This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $142,095.  Esquivel is a Democrat.

Ryan Sundberg, 41, of McKinleyville, has been appointed to the California Coastal Commission.  Sundberg has served as a member of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors since 2010.  He was a tribal council member at the Trinidad Rancheria from 1994 to 2010 and an insurance agent at Farmers Insurance from 2003 to 2010.  This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem.  Sundberg is registered without party preference.

BULLETIN BOARD

President Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for California

Click here

Sierra Nevada Conservancy Seeking Public Input on Grant Guidelines

Click here

Save the Date: Water Storage Investment Program Application Assistance Workshop

Click here

SWRCB Posts Schedule for Part 1 Continuation of California WaterFix Water Right Change Petition Hearing

The State Water Resources Control Board has posted the hearing dates and room schedule for the Part 1 continuation of the California WaterFix water right change petition hearing.

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.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 275 (Wood): Long-Term Care Facilities: Requirements for Changes. Assembly Bill 275 would expand the notice and planning requirements that a skilled nursing facility provides before any change in the status of license or in the operation of the facility that results in its inability to care for its residents.  Status: AB 275 awaits action in the Assembly Health 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 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 Veterans Affairs 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 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 action in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  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 action in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

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 Rules 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 Appropriations 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.  

Proposed Pesticide Use Near School Sites Regulation.  While current regulatory requirements for pesticide applications near schools vary from county to county, the proposed regulation will provide minimum statewide standards for all agricultural pesticide applications near public K-12 schools and child day care facilities.  Agency: Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Status: The revised proposed regulations were released on March 16, 2017 for a 15-day public review notice, with public comments now due April 4, 2017.  Public hearings were held in November and December 2016.  The revised proposed regulation and other related documents can be accessed hereRCRC Comments: RCRC is seeking member county input.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Revised Draft Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy.  The Final Proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy, relevant Appendices, the Final Environmental Analysis (EA), and the written responses to comments received on the Revised Draft EA have been released for public review and comment.  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 final Proposed SLCP Reduction Strategy and relevant documents were released on March 14, 2017, and will be considered at the March 23 and 24, 2017 ARB monthly meeting held in Riverside.  The Final Proposed SLCP Reduction Strategy and other related documents can be accessed hereRCRC Comments: RCRC is seeking member county input.  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