This week, the National Association of Counties (NACo) launched an effort to urge Congressional leaders to fully fund the Federal Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for Fiscal Year 2018, and reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools & Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) program until a permanent solution is developed. NACo is requesting all impacted counties, school districts, and other interested organizations to consider signing onto a joint letter.
As 2017 is nearing an end, Congress must work to pass several bills to keep the government operational. This presents opportunities to fully fund Federal PILT and reauthorize the SRS program. While California’s counties received their 2017 Federal PILT authorization in April, future payments – including 2018 – will need to be secured through the federal budget process. A number of bills have been put forth in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to reauthorize SRS; however, none have secured passage.
The coalition letter to Congressional leadership can be accessed here. If you are interested in signing onto this letter as RCRC has, the web form can be accessed here. The deadline to sign-on is 6 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 16, 2017.
Last week, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) released its Local Jurisdiction Survey to cities and counties to obtain information about designated point of contacts, ordinances, and other pertinent information. Stakeholders, including the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities, were involved with the creation of the survey.
As part of the recent passage of Senate Bill 94 and Assembly Bill 133 – budget trailer bills that harmonize the medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis regulatory structure – local governments are required to submit their respective ordinances to the Bureau. The completion of surveys by cities and counties will assist state cannabis licensing agencies to ensure that licenses that are issued are in compliance with all local ordinances and regulations.
The Local Jurisdiction Survey can be accessed here. To access the survey, use password: cannabis2018
The survey is due by Monday, November 13, 2017. Questions can be directed to Ashlynn Blackshire at Ashlynn.Blackshire@dca.ca.gov or (916) 574-7595.
Last week, House Republicans unveiled their tax reform plan, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which would cap the state and local property tax deduction at $10,000 per return, while completely eliminating the deduction for state and local income taxes. The Senate released a summary of their tax plan on Thursday.
Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has shied away from a definitive timeline on the bill’s path through his Committee. Most Republican senators represent lower-tax states, unlike the House where the GOP’s majority includes 73 members from high-tax states like California and New York. As a result, the Senate faces less political pressure on eliminating the deductions for either the state/local property tax or the state income tax; however, overall passage will be complicated by the GOP’s slim majority in the Upper House. Among the bill’s chief concerns in its current iteration is that it is $75 billion over the reconciliation requirements that would allow Republicans to pass the measure without Democratic votes in the Senate. The income and property tax deductions as well as the mortgage interest deduction are among the provisions of the bill seen as “in-play” among senators who are trying to draft a proposal that could pass the House and Senate under the rules of reconciliation.
The House passed its tax reform bill out of the Ways and Means Committee on Thursday afternoon. While the House Leadership maintains its goal is to have the House pass its tax reform version before Thanksgiving, timing remains unclear on when they can move the bill to the House Floor. There are a variety of issues that remain unresolved, including state/local property tax or the state income tax deductions, excise taxes, pass-through rates. The U.S. Senate intends to begin its mark-up on its version on Monday; however, there is no full legislative text of the Senate’s proposal as of the time of this writing.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet held a hearing on expanding access to the “Internet of Things” (IoT) in rural communities. “Beyond generating simple conveniences, Internet of Things technologies are taking on more significant and vital roles in our lives,” Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) argued in his opening statement. Telemedicine in particular is an IoT technology that is expanding access to life-saving health care services in rural hospitals and clinics.
Access to these life-improving technologies remains limited by the rate of broadband expansion to close the rural/urban digital divide. Internet-service providers (ISP) face massive entry costs in rural areas with low-population density. This barrier to entry greatly inhibits competition and limits the ability of ISPs to provide adequate high-speed coverage. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined broadband access as a minimum connection of 25/megabytes-per-second download speed, and reported in 2016 that 39 percent of rural areas lack this minimum criteria for sufficient internet access.
On Wednesday, Representative Marsh Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, announced that she is drafting a bill to address the challenges broadband providers face when expanding their services in rural areas. Representative Blackburn indicated that the Energy and Commerce Committee will take up her draft bill after they’ve completed a two-year reauthorization of the FCC and will likely serve as House GOP alternative to a Senate-passed proposal, S. 19 the “MOBILE NOW” Act, introduced by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair John Thune (R-South Dakota). Representative Blackburn has not released any details on the House plan but the Senate’s effort would authorize the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration to increase spectrum availability for 5G wireless broadband and reduce red-tape for broadband infrastructure projects.
Bureau of Cannabis Control to Host First Public Cannabis Advisory Committee Meeting
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) announced that it will host the first public Cannabis Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee) meeting on Thursday, November 16, 2017 in Sacramento. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to review and discuss the development of regulations that help protect public health and safety and reduce the illegal market for cannabis. The three state licensing authorities - the Bureau, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Department to Public Health - will be giving an update about their respective emergency rulemaking packages.
The meeting will be held Thursday, November 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sacramento Masonic Temple: 1123 J Street, Sacramento CA 95814. Meeting attendees are encouraged to arrive early, as the Bureau cannot guarantee seating in the event the room reaches capacity.
The meeting will also be streamed online, here. The Meeting notice and agenda can be accessed here. Meeting materials will be accessible as they become available.
Notice of Availability of Modifications to the Text of Proposed Rulemaking Pertaining to Surface Mining Operation Inspections. The modifications to the proposed regulatory language is intended to implement the improvements and updates to Public Resources Code Section 2774 based upon the statutory changes made by Assembly Bill 1142 (Grey, 2016). Agency: Department of Conservation State Mining and Geology Board Status: The 15-day public notice for comments for the modifications ends November 15, 2017. Final consideration for adoption is scheduled for December 14, 2017. The notice and draft update can be accessed here. RCRC Comments: Staff submitted comments and suggested language for consideration. RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto firstname.lastname@example.org
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Pertaining to SMARA Fees Schedule. The proposed regulatory language is intended to enact the revisions to Public Resources Code Section 2207 based upon the statutory changes made by Senate Bill 209 (Pavley, 2016) to address the fees calculation formula, and to maintain a more equitable fee schedule for relatively smaller operations. Agency: Department of Conservation State Mining and Geology Board Status: The draft was published September 29, 2017, with comments due by November 13, 2017, and final consideration for adoption anticipated in January 2018. The notice and draft update can be accessed here. RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties. RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto email@example.com
Senate Bill 1383 Organics Diversion from Landfills Informal Draft Regulations. Senate Bill 1383 (Lara, 2016) established methane emissions reduction targets in a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) from various California sectors. SB 1383 included goals of reducing organics from landfills by 50 percent in 2020 and 75 percent by 2025. Informal stakeholder workshops were held October 30, 2017 in Sacramento, and November 2, 2017 in Huntington Beach. Agency: Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery Status: The draft language was released October 25, 2017, with comments due November 15, 2017. Additional information and draft regulations can be accessed here. RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties. RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto firstname.lastname@example.org