The Barbed Wire - May 30, 2014

May 30, 2014
2014-15 State Budget Conference Committee to Convene
RCRC Opposed Mining Bill Fails Passage
North-of-the-Delta Offstream Storage Highlights Released
Waters of the U.S. Rule Gathers More Controversy
EPA Local Government Advisory Committee Announces Meeting Series on Waters of the U.S.
Drought Bill Passes Senate

2014-15 State Budget Conference Committee to Convene

Members of the 2014-15 Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee (Conference Committee) were announced late this week.  The Conference Committee will be co-Chaired by Senate Committee Budget Chair, Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and Assembly Budget Chair, Assembly Member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). Other members include Senators Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), and Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), and Assembly Members Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Jeff Gorrell (R-Camarillo), and Shirley Weber (D-San Diego).

The purpose of the Conference Committee is for members in both houses to meet and discuss Budget issues where the Senate and the Assembly approved different actions pertaining to the same Budget item. The Conference Committee will work to reach an agreement for each Budget item, and will then generate a Conference Report which will become the foundation for the final Budget. 

A few key items of interest to RCRC’s member counties that the Conference Committee will address include cap and trade expenditures, funding for local jail construction, Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, funding for trial courts, and the early repayment of loans for local transportation needs (HUTA).

Unfortunately, state Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) is not amongst those items currently slated for discussion in the Conference Committee. PILT was heard in the Senate Budget Subcommittee and the item was held open awaiting the Department of Fish and Wildlife providing updated dollar amounts of the monies owed. However, the Subcommittee did not revisit the issue of PILT, nor did it appear on subsequent agendas, and therefore received no follow-up hearing or action. On the Assembly side, PILT was never taken up for consideration in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee. Since there was no action on the item by the Budget Subcommittees in either house, PILT is not currently scheduled for consideration by the Conference Committee. 

RCRC is requesting the assistance of legislators who represent counties owed PILT monies to help place PILT on the “not in conference (NIC)” list of items that should be discussed and acted upon during the deliberations of the Conference Committee, even though they did not end up there in the normal course of business.

There is no schedule yet for when the Conference Committee will begin.

For additional information regarding the Conference Committee or other Budget items, please contact RCRC Governmental Affairs staff at (916) 447-4806.

RCRC Opposed Mining Bill Fails Passage

Late last week, Senate Bill 1270 (Pavley) failed to pass out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee at the Committee’s Suspense File hearing. RCRC was opposed to SB 1270, as the legislation sought changes to surface mining permitting and regulation, would have undermined local land use planning authority, and could have proven detrimental to the financial health of local governments that operated their own mines for public works projects. RCRC’s joint opposition letter to SB 1270 can be accessed here.

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

North-of-the-Delta Offstream Storage Highlights Released

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released the highlights of the North-of-the-Delta Offstream Storage (NODOS) investigation.  The highlights document states that NODOS would provide the following (among other things):

- A robust set of benefits, including water supply reliability for municipal and industrial uses, agriculture, and wildlife refuges;

- Ecosystem enhancement actions to improve fish survival in major northern California rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta;

- Water quality improvements for Delta water users and estuarine species;

- Flexible hydropower generation to support renewable energy sources such as wind and solar;

- Recreation opportunities at the new reservoir and improved recreation at existing reservoirs; and,

- Local flood damage reduction below the new reservoir.    

Total water supply benefits would be up to 500 thousand acre-feet (TAF) per year on average, and more than 600 TAF per year during dry and critical years.  The highlights document can be accessed here.

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

Waters of the U.S. Rule Gathers More Controversy

Earlier this week, the Obama Administration released a list of regulations they intend to implement in the coming months.  The document forecasts that the Waters of the U.S. rule will be finalized next April.  Meanwhile, Congress continues to weigh-in against the rule.  All GOP members of the Senate Agriculture Committee sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concerns about the proposed rule, and asking to meet with her regarding impacts to agriculture production and business in their states.  The House Small Business Committee is conducting a hearing this week to consider impacts on small businesses across the country.  In response to repeated requests for an extension of the July 21, 2014 deadline for public comment, EPA states that a decision about postponing the deadline will be made by early July.  RCRC opposes the rule, and is currently preparing comments, and asking California’s representatives in the House and Senate to urge EPA to withdraw the rule for further scientific and economic analysis.

EPA Local Government Advisory Committee Announces Meeting Series on Waters of the U.S.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee’s Protecting America’s Waters Workgroup has announced a series of meetings to take comments from local elected and appointed officials on the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. While just noticed in the Federal Register on May 29, 2014, the first of the meetings was already held May 28, 2014 in St. Paul, MN. The Workgroup plans to hold several meetings on the topic around the United States, with dates and locations to be announced. 

The Waters of the U.S. rule is a response to the controversy surrounding a proposed 2011 guidance document advising agency field staff on how to determine jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  Many interested stakeholders, including RCRC, saw the guidance as a de facto rule that would have expanded the federal definition of “Waters of the U.S.” without going through a proper public rulemaking process.  The guidance was withdrawn, with the agencies now seeking an official rule to expand their authority. The Workgroup meetings will seek comments on the rule to inform their advice to the EPA on how to proceed.

Information on upcoming meetings of the Workgroup to discuss Waters of the U.S. will be posted to the Local Government Advisory Committee website, accessed here.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocate Staci Heaton at (916) 447-4806

Drought Bill Passes Senate

After declaring that environmentalists have never been helpful in setting water policy, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) drought relief legislation won passage last week in the Senate. Feinstein’s bill differs significantly from the drought bill passed earlier this year in the House that waives environmental mandates to provide more water to southern California and the Central Valley. Differences in the two bills will challenge the ability of House and Senate leaders to reach consensus in time to address drought conditions this summer.

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


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

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

AB 1512 (Stone):  Corrections: Inmate Transfers.  AB 1512 would extend until July 1, 2018 a county’s ability to contract with another county for jail bed capacity for specified eligible inmates upon authorization from the county Board of Supervisors.  Status:  Gained passage in the Assembly.  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.  Status: Gained passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Pending; Amendments Requested

AB 1893 (Stone):  Sharps Waste.  AB 1893 would have required that a sharps waste container be provided free of charge with the purchase of 50 or more sharps in the State of California. It also would have required that sharps consumers receive information about the proper and legal disposal of sharps, including information about disposal locations.  Status: Failed passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 1894 (Ammiano):  Medical Cannabis.  AB 1894 would have established a state-run statewide regulatory framework for licensing medical marijuana dispensing facilities and cultivation sites.  Status: Failed passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: None taken

AB 2188 (Muratsuchi): Solar Energy: Permits.  AB 2188 would require each city and county to create an expedited permitting and inspection process for small, residential solar energy systems among other provisions. Status: Gained passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Oppose

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% 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 until January 1, 2020.  Status: Gained passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 2363 (Dahle): Electricity Procurement.  AB 2363 would require the development of integration adders so that the Commission may accurately consider the full costs and benefits of the various technologies in its renewable portfolio standard decision-making by October 1, 2015. Status: Gained passage in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Support

AB 2415 (Ting):  Property Tax Agents.  AB 2415 would require individuals, as defined, acting as property tax agents to register with the California Secretary of State to ensure adequate protections for property owners and local governments.  Status: Gained passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

AB 2471 (Frazier):  Public Contracts: Change Orders.  AB 2471 would require a local public agency to issue a change order to public works contracts within 30 days or be held liable for payment of the contractor’s invoice for the change order and or additional work that was provided.  Status: Gained passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Oppose

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. Status: Gained passage in the Assembly.  RCRC Position: Support

SB 1137 (Torres): School Transportation Apportionments.  SB 1137 would reimburse school districts for 50 percent of approved transportation costs.  Status: Gained passage in the Senate.  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 sub-basins managed by local entities pursuant to an adopted sustainable groundwater management plan.  Status: Gained passage in the Senate.  RCRC Position: Pending; Amendments Requested

SB 1262 (Correa):  Medical Marijuana: Regulation of Physicians, Dispensaries, and Cultivation Sites.  SB 1262 wouldrequire the State Department of Consumer Affairs to license dispensing facilities and cultivation sites that provide, process, and grow marijuana for medical use, among various other things.  Status: Gained passage in the Senate.  RCRC Position: Pending

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.  Status: Gained passage in the Senate.  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.  Status: Gained Passage in the Senate.  RCRC Position: Support

SB 1364 (Fuller):  Telecommunications Universal Service Programs.  SB 1364 would expand and extend the funding base for the state’s universal service and telecommunications programs which help support the deployment of communication services in California.  Status:  Gained passage in the Senate.  RCRC Position: Support