The Barbed Wire - March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017
U.S. Forest Service to Delay Early Adopter Forest Plan Revisions
State Water Board Releases Draft Emergency Regulations for State Intervention Fees
Park and Water Bonds Continue to Move in the Legislature
Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Hearing on Secretary of Agriculture Nomination
House Faces Challenges in Repeal and Replace of Affordable Care Act
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Holds Infrastructure Hearing
House Energy and Commerce Committee Broadband Hearing
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

U.S. Forest Service to Delay Early Adopter Forest Plan Revisions

Earlier this week, the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) announced that it will delay the release of any final decisions on the “early adopter” forest plan revisions for the Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia National Forests until at least late Fall 2017.  While RCRC has been hearing talk of the delay for weeks due to directives from the new Administration, the USFS officially stated that the delay is designed to allow staff more time to respond to comments and consider changed conditions in two of the forests due to drought-induced tree mortality.  

Forest plan revisions are typically contentious due to the land management and recreational use implications implicit in the updates.  The “early adopter” revisions have been no exception, as they are the among the first forest plan updates in the nation to be implemented under the often-divisive 2012 National Land Management Planning Rule, which RCRC and many counties felt weakened the ability for local governments to provide meaningful input in the planning process.  Many stakeholders, including RCRC, requested drastic revisions to the initial Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the three forests, which were being done in a single revision process, particularly since the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests have been heavily impacted by the state’s tree mortality epidemic since the plan revision process began.  Region 5 is now planning to release a separate final EIS for the Inyo National Forest in late Fall, followed by a draft EIS for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests in early 2018 to account for the changes in conditions due to tree mortality.

Detailed information on the early adopter forest plan revisions can be accessed here

State Water Board Releases Draft Emergency Regulations for State Intervention Fees

The State Water Board released their Draft Emergency Regulations for State Intervention Fees should local agencies not meet the June 30, 2017 deadline for development of their Groundwater Sustainability Agency as part of the implementation of the Sustainable Ground Water Management Act.  Read More…

Park and Water Bonds Continue to Move in the Legislature

This week, the two proposed park and water bonds, Senate Bill 5 authored by Speaker Pro Tem Kevin de León, and Assembly Bill 18 authored by Assembly Member Garcia, continued to move through the legislative process.  

SB 5 has cleared both the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and gained passage in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.  AB 18 gained passage from the Assembly Floor on a vote of 54 – 19, just gaining the necessary two-thirds vote. 

AB 18 can be accessed here.  SB 5 can be accessed here.

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Hearing on Secretary of Agriculture Nomination

Sixty-three days into President Trump’s Administration, the Senate Agriculture Committee (Committee) held a hearing to question USDA Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue and review the Agriculture nomination.  The hearing was delayed as Perdue worked with the Office of Government Ethics to avoid conflicts of interest.  Overall, the Committee was cordial to former Georgia Governor Perdue.  

The Committee discussed issues such as the President’s proposed 21 percent cut to USDA’s budget, trade issues, challenges in the dairy industry, and the impact on U.S. growers and producers from declining prices.  Perdue stated his desire to maintain a sharp focus on effective use of our National Forests.  Although Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) expressed concern that the Trump administration is not prioritizing Rural America, Ranking Member Stabenow still expressed her support for Perdue’s nomination.  Former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has also publicly supported the nomination of Perdue.

House Faces Challenges in Repeal and Replace of Affordable Care Act

This week, House leadership hoped to bring to the House floor for consideration the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  House leadership planned to hold the vote on Thursday, the Affordable Care Act’s seventh anniversary of becoming law.  

After extensive negotiating on bill language, Republican leaders appeared to be short of the 215 votes needed to pass the bill, and ultimately delayed voting on the bill.  House Republican leadership tried to eliminate minimum coverage requirements to win over conservatives, but in the process, lost support of some moderate Republicans.  Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act continue as the House, Senate, and President Trump negotiate healthcare reform.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Holds Infrastructure Hearing

Earlier this week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to discuss infrastructure needs and opportunities on federal lands.  Several Committee Members, Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), discussed the important role of public private partnerships in addressing our Nation’s infrastructure needs.  

Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) criticized the White House for the proposed cuts in the FY18 budget blueprint, arguing the funding reductions would undercut efforts to invest in infrastructure and create jobs.  Committee Members expressed concern about the growing deferred maintenance backlogs at the National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and the United States Forest Service, as well as the great need for water infrastructure projects and improvements across the nation. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Broadband Hearing

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing to investigate federal policy reforms that would speed the deployment of broadband internet services to underserved communities.  

The hearing focused on three main areas for reform: 1) the need to update the regulatory framework guiding deployment of small cell infrastructure, 2) requiring the Federal Communications Commission to update the National Broadband Map, and 3) the streamlining of federal zoning and permitting.  Several Subcommittee Members also raised the issues of 5G buildout, with the arrival of 5G technology in the United States expected in 2020.  

BULLETIN BOARD

Governor Brown Requests Presidential Major Disaster Declaration Due to February Storms, Damage to Oroville Dam Spillway

Click here

Natural Resources Agency Releases 10-Year Plan to Protect Public Health and Habitat at the Salton Sea

Click here

Bureau of Reclamation Announces the 2017 Water Supply Allocation for the Central Valley Project

Click here

LAO Report: Managing Floods in California

Click here

Calaveras County Seeks Public Works Inspector

Click here

Delta Protection Commission Releases 2016 Annual Report

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.  

SB 58 (McGuire): Wildlife Management Areas: Payment of Taxes and Assessments.  Senate Bill 58 will return the ‘may’ back to ‘shall’ in Fish and Game Code Section 1504 making future State Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments required rather than permissive.  Status: SB 58 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Position: Sponsor/Support

SB 252 (Dodd): Water Wells.  Senate Bill 252 would require a city or county overlying a critically overdrafted basin to make certain information about the new well included in the application for a well permit publicly available and easily accessible, and to undertake a notice and comment period.  The bill would also prohibit a new water well from being developed in a critically overdrafted basin except in compliance with these provisions.  The bill would require a city or county overlying a critically overdrafted basin to be in compliance with these provisions to be eligible to receive state funding for groundwater recharge or other water supply projects.  Status: SB 252 awaits action in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.  RCRC Position: Concerns

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

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

Proposed Public Assistance Program Disaster Deductible Rulemaking.  The proposed rulemaking describes a conceptual deductible program, including a methodology for calculating deductible amounts based upon a state’s fiscal capacity and disaster risk, and a credit structure to reward States for investing in emergency management activities such as readiness, preparedness, mitigation, and resilience.  Agency: Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Status: Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) comments are due on April 12, 2017.  The supplemental ANPR can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: RCRC is seeking member county input.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org