The Barbed Wire - May 23, 2014

May 23, 2014
ACTION ALERT: Solar Permitting Bill Moves to Assembly Floor – RCRC Urges Members to Take Action
RCRC Vice Chair Testifies About Concerns with Proposed AB 32 Scoping Plan Update
Senate and House Leaders Announce WIA Reauthorization Agreement
House Committee Approves FY 2015 Transportation/Housing Funding
Water Resources Reform Development Act Conference Report
The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Announces Rural Economic Development Grant Opportunities
Department of Parks and Recreation Chief Announces Retirement

ACTION ALERT: Solar Permitting Bill Moves to Assembly Floor – RCRC Urges Members to Take Action

RCRC Chair Nate Beason (Nevada County) recently testified before the Assembly Local Government Committee in opposition to Assembly Bill 2188 (Muratsuchi), which calls for the expedited permitting and inspection process for small, residential solar energy systems.  AB 2188 has passed both the Assembly policy and fiscal committees, and will next be heard on the Assembly Floor.  RCRC staff strongly urges member counties to contact their Assembly Member(s) and describe the impacts this legislation would have upon local government, as well as the potential public safety impacts to local communities, and request that they vote “No” on AB 2188 when it is heard on the Assembly Floor. 

As amended May 8, AB 2188 requires each city and county to create an expedited permitting and inspection process for small, residential solar energy systems among other provisions.  Specifically, this bill:

- AB 2188 gives preference to solar over all other types of permits, creating a special class of permitting and inspections for one particular industry;

- Requires, by September 30, 2015, every city and every county to adopt an ordinance that creates an expedited, streamlined permitting process for small residential rooftop solar energy systems, consistent with the Solar Rights Act;

- Requires each city and county, in developing an expedited permitting process, to adopt a checklist of all requirements with which small rooftop solar energy systems shall comply to be eligible for expedited review and requires an application that meets the requirements in the checklist to be reviewed within 24 business hours; and,

- Requires for a small residential rooftop solar energy system eligible for expedited review, only one inspection, and requires that one inspection to be scheduled within five business days of receiving a request.  If a city or county is unable to provide inspection within five business days of a request, it may authorize a third-party inspection, using a qualified or certified inspector.

The text of AB 2188 may be accessed here.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Legislative Advocate Kathy Mannion at (916) 447-4806

RCRC Vice Chair Testifies About Concerns with Proposed AB 32 Scoping Plan Update

On Thursday, RCRC First Vice Chair Lee Adams (Sierra County) testified on behalf of RCRC before the California Air Resources Board (Board) on the proposed First Update to the Assembly Bill 32 Scoping Plan (Scoping Plan).  The Scoping Plan is the document that lays out the State’s strategies to achieve the 2020 and 2050 emissions reductions goals set by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, more commonly known as AB 32, and is a mixture of regulations, incentive programs, and monitoring approaches.  By law, the Scoping Plan must be updated every five years to reflect achievements made by the state and to prescribe additional regulations and programs if necessary. 

RCRC has been involved in AB 32 implementation since it was signed in 2006, and has continued to weigh in on the Scoping Plan Update as it was being developed.  During his testimony, Supervisor Adams stressed RCRC’s main concerns with the Scoping Plan Update, including the lack of support for Williamson Act subvention payments, a deficient plan for engaging the U.S. Forest Service in forest management and fuels treatment activities, and potential local issues surrounding organics management in solid waste facilities.  While the Board was sympathetic, Chair Mary Nichols urged RCRC to continue seeking Williamson Act funding through the State Budget process.

Ultimately, after hours of public testimony, the Board unanimously adopted the Scoping Plan Update as proposed by staff. The Scoping Plan Update and all related materials can be accessed here. RCRC’s comment letter on the Scoping Plan Update can be accessed here.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocates Staci Heaton ( or Mary Pitto ( at (916) 447-4806.

Senate and House Leaders Announce WIA Reauthorization Agreement

This week, U.S. House and Senate leaders announced they have reached a bipartisan agreement on reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which expired at the end of federal fiscal year 2003.  The bill, known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), represents a compromise between the House-passed SKILLS Act and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Workforce Investment Act of 2013.  RCRC applauds the work of House and Senate leaders to reach a bipartisan compromise, and we encourage both houses to continue working together to advance this reauthorization measure. 

In our cursory review, WIOA includes several reforms to the nation’s workforce development system of particular interest to California’s rural counties, including House-led efforts to reduce the unwieldy size of state and local Workforce Investment Boards (WIB), and the number of WIA-supported grants and programs.  The bill proposes to eliminate 15 programs, establishes common performance measures, strengthens partnerships between workforce and economic development entities, and promotes career pathways and sector strategies.  While the negotiated agreement largely maintains key aspects of WIA, such as requiring business-led state and local WIBs and California’s American Job Centers (One-Stop Career Centers), there are several reforms that we believe strengthen our workforce development system. Details on these reforms can be accessed here.

It is unclear when the bill would be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.  RCRC staff is still going through the text of the bill language and will share additional information as appropriate.  The press release announcing the agreement can be accessed here.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Legislative Analyst Randall Echevarria at (916) 447-4806

House Committee Approves FY 2015 Transportation/Housing Funding

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee met and approved the Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bill for the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The bill continues funding of the Community Development Block Grant program at $3 billion, but cuts programs like the DOT TIGER grant program from $600 million to $100 million. The Senate is expected to begin consideration of its version of the bill next month.

Water Resources Reform Development Act Conference Report

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted and passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) by a vote of 417-3.  The legislation authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out water infrastructure projects such as harbor and port maintenance, dam and levee construction and maintenance, and environmental restoration projects. It has been seven years since Congress passed a bill, and the House and Senate were having formal negotiations for six months on this newest bill.  Senate is expected to vote on and pass the bill sometime this week. It will then be sent to the President for his signature.  

For additional information on Federal matters, please contact RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Paul A. Smith at (916) 447-4806 or

The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Announces Rural Economic Development Grant Opportunities

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications for the Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG) program. The objective of the program is to improve economic conditions in rural areas, and will provide assistance for projects in the following areas:

- Community economic development;

- Technology-based economic development;

- Feasibility studies and business plans;

- Leadership and entrepreneur training;

- Rural business incubators; and,

- Long-term business strategic planning.

Individual grant awards will not exceed $100,000, and the application deadline is June 13, 2014.  Detailed information on the RBOG program can be accessed here

Department of Parks and Recreation Chief Announces Retirement

After 18 months as the head of the Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks), U.S. Marine Corps Major General Anthony Jackson announced his retirement earlier this week, effective June 30, 2014.

The official press release announcing the retirement can be accessed here.


RCRC members are encouraged to share letters addressed to state and federal representatives and regulatory bodies with RCRC’s Government Affairs staff.

Today (May 23, 2014) is the last day for fiscal committee to meet, and either pass, or hold fiscal bills held on the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Suspense File this legislative session.  Following the hearing, RCRC staff will update the bill status on the RCRC website by Tuesday afternoon next week.  Please check the website for bill status updates, or contact the RCRC Government Affairs staff at (916) 447-4806 with any questions.  These bills include:

Assembly Appropriations Suspense File

AB 1451 (Holden): Concurrent Enrollment. AB 1451 would help provide rural high school students with access to higher education opportunities.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 1540 (Hagman): Concurrent Enrollment.  Current law restricts a principal from recommending more than 5 percent of the total number of students in the same grade-level from concurrent enrollment in a summer session course. AB 1540 would reinstate the 5 percent enrollment cap through 2017 and would add computer science courses to the exemption list.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 1661 (Bonta): Healthy Options for Everyone Act of 2014.  AB 1661 would create a standard definition for “food desert” within statute and would allow local governments to create Healthy Options for Everyone (HOPE) incentives zones, whereby fresh food vendors could operate within specified food desert areas. RCRC Position:Support

AB 1739 (Dickinson): Groundwater Basin Management: Sustainability.  AB 1739 would require a sustainable groundwater management plan to be adopted, except as provided, for each high or medium priority groundwater basin by any groundwater management agency as defined.  RCRC Position: Amendments Requested

AB 1799 (Gordon): Land Use: Mitigation Lands.  AB 1799 would exempt a governmental entity or special district from the requirement to provide an endowment for long-term stewardship of mitigation lands if the entity provides evidence that it possesses an investment-grade credit rating and provide a resolution or contractual agreement to enforce the mitigation requirements. RCRC Position: Support

AB 1867 (Patterson): Forestry.  AB 1867 would allow landowners to sell timber removed during the course of defensible space vegetation management work up to 150 feet on all sides of a legally permitted structure.  Status: AB 1867 passed off the Assembly Floor.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 1961 (Eggman): Land Use: Planning: Sustainable Farmland Strategy.  AB 1961 would require each county with significant agricultural land to develop on or before January 2, 2018 a sustainable farmland strategy.  RCRC Position: Oppose Unless Amended

AB 1970 (Gordon): Global Warming Solutions Act: Community Investment.  AB 1970 would create the Community Investment and Innovation Program which would provide funding to local governments in the form of grants and other financial assistance to develop and implement greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction projects.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 2241 (Eggman): Local Government: Agricultural Land.  AB 2241 would change the rescission fee charged by a county when land under Williamson Act contract or land designated as a farmland security zone enters into a solar-use easement to 10 percent of the fair market value of the property and  allows for counties that choose to utilize this approach to retain half of the rescission fee.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 2402 (Buchanan): Weed Management.  AB 2402 would appropriate $2.5 million from the General Fund to the Noxious Weed Management Account within the California Department of Food and Agriculture and specify the allocation of the funds from the Noxious Weed Management Account to the various entities.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 2703 (Quirk-Silva): County Veterans Service Officers.  AB 2703 would allocate $6,000,000 from the General Fund to counties for the purpose of funding various CVSO activities, and would create a formula through which those funds would be allocated.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Appropriations Suspense File

SB 848 (Wolk): Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality, and Flood Protection Act of 2014.  SB 848 would repeal the provisions of the proposed 2012 Water Bond and would, if adopted by voters, authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $6,825,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance a safe drinking water, water quality and water supply program.  RCRC Position: Amendments Requested

SB 1137 (Torres): School Transportation Apportionments. SB 1137 would reimburse school districts for 50 percent of approved transportation costs. RCRC Position: Support


SB 1168 (Pavley): Groundwater Management.  SB 1168 would establish the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which declares the Legislature's intent to have all groundwater basins and subbasins managed by local entities pursuant to an adopted sustainable groundwater management plan.  RCRC Position:Amendments Requested


SB 1270 (Pavley): Surface Mining Operations.  SB 1270 would shift the annual inspection, review and approval of financial assurance responsibilities of surface mining operations from local governments to a state agency. RCRC Position: Oppose

SB 1292 (Hueso): Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.  SB 1292 would increase the maximum amount of a construction grant award from $3 million to $5 million for a water system serving severely disadvantaged communities.  RCRC Position: Support

SB 1341 (Mitchell): Medi-Cal: Statewide Automated Welfare System. SB 1341 would require SAWS to be the system of record for Medi-Cal, and contain all Medi-Cal eligibility rules and case management functionality.  RCRC Position: Support

SB 1410 (Wolk): Wildlife Management Areas: Payments.  SB 1410 would appropriate $19 million from the General Fund to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to make payments to counties for past due PILT obligations.  SB 1410 also appropriates $2 million annually, beginning in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, to DFW for ongoing annual payments to the impacted counties.  RCRC Position: Support

SB 1268 (Beall): Natural Resources Climate Improvement Program.  SB 1268 would establish the Natural Resource Climate Improvement Program.  RCRC Position: Support