Assembly Bill 1066, authored by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), proposes to subject tree removal contracts paid with public funds to prevailing wage laws, potentially complicating contract procurements and cost issues for many rural, forested counties throughout the state.  While the author has stated the intent is to stimulate employment and wages in rural counties where tree removal labor is in high demand, the bill could have numerous unintended consequences for some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged counties that are already struggling to find resources for tree mortality mitigation and other forest health related programs.  

The bill passed out of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee after a debate about how the proposal will impact tree removal projects using State grant funds in areas where a disaster has been declared, such as counties impacted by high levels of tree mortality or the effects of high severity wildfires.  RCRC raised concerns that the bill will actually do more harm than good in the already socioeconomically challenged counties trying to mitigate forest health emergencies, while others noted that the bill could also serve as a barrier to development of necessary biomass infrastructure because of the potential to inflate the costs of tree removal projects.

The current version of AB 1066 can be accessed here.  RCRC’s concerns letter can be accessed here.