The Barbed Wire - September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015
House Speaker Boehner Announces His Resignation
FFA Water Rights Report Released
Additional North State SGMA Meeting Added
The Stewardship Council has Released Its 2014 Annual Report
Remote Video Court Proceedings for Traffic Infractions
Appointments to the Transportation Conference Committee Announced
Appointments to the Health Care Conference Committee Announced
Deadline Looms to Avert Government Shutdown
Senators Urge Leadership for Extension of Land and Water Conservation Fund
Broadband Opportunity Council Releases Report

House Speaker Boehner Announces His Resignation

In a surprising move, late last week House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced in a closed door conference amongst colleagues that he plans to resign as the end of October, 2015, bringing an end to his five-year reign as Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Speaker Boehner will introduce a short-term Continuing Resolution to fund federal government programs beyond the end of the current fiscal year next week that will not contain any additional policy riders, such as efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.  Early reports indicate that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is well positioned to take over the House leadership position, although he is likely to face tough opposition.

FFA Water Rights Report Released

The current California and Western drought has created an opportunity for some to call for the end of "prior appropriation," the doctrine that has governed the distribution of water since Americans settled the arid West.  In response, the Family Farm Alliance (Alliance), which represents irrigators in the 17 Western states, has issued a report on the prior appropriation doctrine, and its role in the modern water world.  The Argument for the Prior Appropriation Doctrine to Allocate Water in the Western U.S. can be accessed here

The Alliance notes that agriculture in the West - as in other parts of the world - accounts for a large portion of the water used for human purposes and that many of the senior water rights holders in the West are farmers and ranchers, and that the calls for an end to prior appropriation are coming primarily from academia, some environmental and development interests, and junior rights holders.  They claim that the Western water rights system is outdated and hampering efforts to address the West's historic drought.  The Alliance's paper refutes this claim. 

Additional North State SGMA Meeting Added

The State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources have added an additional informational meeting to discuss implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and to answer questions from the public.  The additional meeting will be held on November 5, 2015 in Redding at Redding City Hall (City Council Chambers, 777 Cypress Ave, Redding, CA 96001).  The November 5th meeting will have a 1:00pm – 4:00pm combined technical session and public forum that is open to Local Public Agencies, organizations, groundwater users and the general public. 

The November 5th meeting is in addition to the following previously noticed SGMA Information meetings:

  • October 21 – Valley Glen, CA: Los Angeles Valley College Campus Center Building Monarch Hall, 5800 Fulton Ave, Valley Glen, CA 91401
  • October 22 – Visalia, CA: 210Life, 210 W. Center Ave, Visalia, CA 93291
  • October 27 – Sacramento, CA: CalEPA Building, Coastal Hearing Room, 1001 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (meeting will also be available via Webcast)

The October 22, 22, and 27 meetings will have sessions from:

  • 1:00pm – 4:00pm: Technical session for Local Public Agencies and organizations
  • 6:00pm – 8:00pm: Public forum for groundwater users and the general public

The technical session are intended for local public agencies and organizations to inform staff, governing boards, and leaders of local public agencies and organizations. The technical sessions will focus on: local agency requirements regarding Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) formation, groundwater sustainability, and public involvement; the status of SGMA implementation within the meeting location’s region; technical and financial assistance available from the state; and understanding the implications of state intervention in the absence of local action.

The public forums are intended for residential well owners, groundwater users, and other interested members of the public. The public forums will focus on: the public stakeholder role in SGMA implementation; local agency requirements regarding GSA formation and public involvement; drought management and groundwater sustainability; SGMA and water rights; and state involvement under SGMA (including technical and financial assistance and state intervention).

Remote Video Court Proceedings for Traffic Infractions

Effective September 1, 2015, California Rule of Court 4.220 now permits all Superior Courts to conduct arraignments, trials, and related proceedings concerning certain traffic infractions by remote video.  The Fresno Superior Court has successfully used this video option since 2013 and has consistently reported that the video project is an effective and efficient way of providing access to traffic court.  It is expected other trial courts throughout the state will exercise this option in order to more efficiently process traffic case flow while expanding and extending access to justice.  

Appointments to the Transportation Conference Committee Announced

Last week the Senate and Assembly announced their respective appointments to the Transportation Conference Committee.  The Senate will be represented by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), who will act as Co-Chair alongside Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), and will be joined by his colleagues Senators Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica), Connie Leyva (Chino), Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), and Ted Gaines (R-Roseville).  The Assembly will be represented by Assembly Member Gomez (D-Los Angeles), who will act as Co-Chair alongside Senator Beall, and will be joined by Assembly Members Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo), Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake). 

The Transportation Conference Committee was formed at the end of the Legislative Session in August when it became clear that the Legislature would be unable to reach a compromise on new transportation revenues prior to adjournment.  RCRC will continue to support advocacy efforts as a member of the California Fix Our Roads Coalition, who reports that the Transportation Conference Committee will likely schedule a hearing on new transportation revenues sometime in the next couple of weeks, with regional hearings to take place throughout the state.  

Appointments to the Health Care Conference Committee Announced

California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has recommended to the Senate Rules Committee the following appointments to the special session conference committees on Health Care (X2).  

Health Special Session (SBX2 2 (Hernandez) and ABX2 1 (Bonta))

  • Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) (co-chair)
  • Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)
  • Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City)
  • Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber)
  • Republican Vacancy 

Deadline Looms to Avert Government Shutdown

Congress must act by September 30, 2015 to avoid a government shutdown.  Last week the Senate rejected a measure that would have funded the federal government though December 11, 2015, and would have also cut off all federal money for Planned Parenthood.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has filed legislation that would fund the federal government through December 11, 2015, but would not cut any funds for Planned Parenthood. 

While this bill is expected to pass the Senate, its fate in the House is unclear, as several Republican Members of Congress have indicated that they will vote against any legislation that does not strip funding for Planned Parenthood.  The situation remains very fluid at this time and many feel that a shutdown is becoming more likely. 

Senators Urge Leadership for Extension of Land and Water Conservation Fund

Earlier this month, 53 Senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid urging a passage of a short-term extension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  The bipartisan letter, which was organized by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), is signed by 9 Republicans and 42 Democrats.  The current authorization ends at the end of the month.  The program can still be funded through the appropriations bills even if the authorization expires. An extension for the LWCF was not included in the proposed FY 16 Continuing Resolution that was released last week. 

Broadband Opportunity Council Releases Report

On March 23, 2015, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum that established the Broadband Opportunity Council (Council) to research efforts the Federal government could undertake to expand and deploy broadband and to address Federal regulatory barriers. 

The Council has worked over the past several months to develop specific recommendations to increase broadband deployment, competition, and adoption, and issued a final report that includes the following four broad recommendations:

  1. Modernize Federal programs to expand program support for broadband investments;
  2. Empower communities with tools and resources to attract broadband investment and promote meaningful use;
  3. Promote increased broadband deployment and competition through expanded access to Federal assets; and,
  4. Improve data collection, analysis and research on broadband. 

The deployment and expansion of broadband networks in rural communities throughout California is a high priority for our member counties.  As such, RCRC responded to the Council’s Request for Comments earlier this year to highlight some of the barriers to deployment and expansion of broadband services in rural communities.  RCRC is pleased to see that several of the recommendations we have commented toward may be addressed as part of a series of administrative actions the various Federal agencies will implement over the course of the next several years, namely opportunities to modernize Federal programs to expand eligibility for broadband investments.  RCRC will continue working with State and Federal policymakers and regulatory agencies to assist in the expansion of broadband deployment and other new and emerging technologies.  The Council’s final report is available here


Little Hoover Commission Releases Report: Averting Disaster: Action Now for the Salton Sea

Click here

OPR to Hold Workshop on Proposed CEQA Guidelines

The Office of Planning and Research will conduct a public workshop to receive input on the proposed changes to the CEQA Guidelines on October 6, beginning at 9 am, in the Cal/EPA Headquarters Building, Sierra Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.  Additional information on the workshop can be accessed here.

Central Valley Water Board to Hold ILRP Stakeholder Meeting in Modesto

The Central Valley Water Quality Control Board will hold a stakeholder meeting on the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) on Thursday, October 8 in Modesto. The agenda can be accessed here.

Additionally, if you wish to reserve a lunch, please RSVP to Keri Yee at no later than Friday October 2.  This will be a no-host lunch consisting of sandwiches, chips and drinks.  The cost is $10.00 and please bring cash for payment.

2015 Drought Housing Relocation Assistance Program – Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)

HCD announces the availability of approximately $1 million in funding for the 2015 Drought Housing Relocation Assistance Program (DHRA). 

In response to the Governor's declaration of a drought state of emergency via Executive Order B-29, dated April 1, 2015, HCD is providing temporary assistance for persons moving from their current residence, if it lacks reasonable access to potable water resulting from the drought. 

Eligible Providers in counties where a Sponsor has not been identified, may apply to become Providers of the DHRA program per the DHRA Guidelines. Please see the HCD Website for program information here.


DHRA Application