The Barbed Wire - September 8, 2017

September 8, 2017
RCRC Annual Meeting
RCRC-Opposed AB 1250 and SB 649 Continues to Move Forward
Revised Waters of the State Rule Gets First Hearing by State Board
RCRC Advocates for Federal PILT
Federal Update
BULLETIN BOARD
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC Annual Meeting

RCRC’s 2017 Annual Meeting is weeks away!  With more than 200 registered attendees, and nearly 30 sponsors, the 2017 Annual Meeting is filling up fast.  Detailed information on the program, venue, registration and lodging can be accessed via the event website.  We look forward to seeing you in South Lake Tahoe!  Read More…

RCRC-Opposed AB 1250 and SB 649 Continues to Move Forward

RCRC-Opposed AB 1250 and SB 649 Continue to Move Forward

Last Friday, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee considered a large number of bills for final consideration (commonly known as dispensing with bills on the “Suspense File”).  The Suspense File is a holding spot for bills that are further evaluated for their respective cost impact to the State.  A number of RCRC’s key legislative issues were addressed, including the RCRC-opposed Assembly Bill 1250 authored by Assembly Member Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Senate Bill 649 authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego).

AB 1250 relating to county contracts for services gained passage out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and to the surprise of many, was re-referred to the Senate Rules Committee.  In moving from the Appropriations Committee, AB 1250 was amended.  Despite these amendments, the bill still does not address any of RCRC’s concerns as it will continue to inhibit counties from contracting with nonprofits and others to provide critical services to the neediest residents.  By having AB 1250 move to the Senate Rules Committee, it is unclear what path the bill will take in the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.  The sponsors of the bill – Service Employees International Union – continue to meet with key Senators and senior legislative staff to construct further amendments.  RCRC’s opposition letter to the recently-amended AB 1250 can be accessed here

SB 649 relating to “small cell” siting easily gained passage from the Assembly Appropriations Committee - twelve “Aye” votes, one “No” vote, and four members abstaining.  Despite promises made by the wireless industry, the sponsor of SB 649, the bill would eliminate public input and full local environmental and design review.  SB 649 now awaits final consideration on the Assembly Floor.  The SB 649 joint floor alert to the Assembly can be accessed here.

RCRC continues to work to defeat these poorly-crafted bills.  A complete list of RCRC-related bills and their current status can be accessed in the Legislative Update section of this edition of The Barbed Wire.

Revised Waters of the State Rule Gets First Hearing by State Board

On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board had its first chance to hear public testimony on the newly amended version of what stakeholders are calling the “Waters of the State” rule, an amended version of a policy to set what is and is not considered a wetland under the jurisdiction of the state.  The rule, formally titled “State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Materials to Waters of the State,” is part of an ongoing process to develop a formal wetland protection policy, which began in 2008.  

The most recent draft of the rule includes a change in the definition of “wetland” which greatly expands the universe of activities that would be subject to State jurisdiction under the policy. 

The Wednesday hearing brought testimony from several representatives from the regulated community, including RCRC, disputing the notion that the new wetland definition was simply consistent with the current federal Clean Water Act definition as stated by staff.  By the end of the hearing, Board members expressed sympathy with potential permittees, and implied that there would be further changes to the rule to address stakeholder concerns. 

Written comments on the rule are due by September 18, 2017.  The draft rule and all related materials can be accessed here.

RCRC Advocates for Federal PILT

Supervisor Kevin Cann (Mariposa), Supervisor Randy Hanvelt (Tuolumne), Commissioner Jim French (Humboldt County, Nevada), and Senator Dean Heller (Nevada)

This week, RCRC 2nd Vice Chair Randy Hanvelt (Tuolumne) and RCRC Board Member and National Association of Counties (NACo) Western Interstate Region (WIR) 2nd Vice President Kevin Cann (Mariposa) joined RCRC staff, supervisors and commissioners from around the United States to advocate for continuing the Federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.  This joint effort, known as the NACo PILT Fly-In, allows county officials to spend time on Capitol Hill informing members of Congress and key staff of the importance of these payments to counties.  

Federal PILT provides payments to counties to help offset losses in property tax revenues due to nontaxable federal lands within their jurisdictions.  Federal PILT funding is vital for many of the nation's counties to continue providing critical programs and services to rural communities.

Federal PILT was last reauthorized as part of the 2017 federal budget resolution in which provided $485 million to help support a variety of county activities and programs.  While California’s counties received their Federal PILT authorization in April, future Federal PILT payments – including 2018 – will need to be secured through the federal budget process. 

Supervisor Cann and Supervisor Hanvelt joined their NACo colleagues to urge Congress to fully fund Federal PILT for 2018, and support permanent funding for the future.  Congress is expected to take action to reauthorize the program for 2018 before the end of the federal government’s fiscal year on September 30, 2017.

Federal Update

Both chambers of Congress returned from the August Recess this week with a “to do list” which includes the increasing debt ceiling, avoiding a federal government shutdown, Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, tax reform, flood insurance and Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization. 

President Trump surprised key senior Republican lawmakers on Wednesday when he agreed to a deal with the Democratic leadership to extend the debt ceiling and postpone a possible federal government shutdown until December.  President Trump backed the Democratic plan to extend the debt ceiling and fund the government for three months, combined with a Harvey relief package, after a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).  The President’s deal is a split from Republican leaders, including Speaker Ryan who criticized the Democrats’ push for a short-term debt-ceiling solution as “disgraceful” and “playing with politics” on an important issue.  Striking a deal with the minority party is likely to erode trust between President Trump and Republican lawmakers at a critical juncture in the legislative calendar.

The Hurricane Harvey aid package is continuing to grow in size as it works its way through Congress.  Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) has added $7.4 billion in Community Development Block grants to the package, bringing its total price tag to $15.25 billion.  The Continuing Resolution and short-term debt limit suspension being added to the bill also changed overnight.  The bill will lose several votes from conservatives in the House in retaliation to the President’s decision to side with Democrats, instead of backing an 18-month and six-month proposal submitted by Republicans.  Included in the bill is an amendment that provides authority for the U.S. Forest Service to repay any funds transferred to cover fiscal year 2017 shortfalls in wildland firefighting operations.  As Congress continues to produce Harvey relief packages, lawmakers from western states such as California, Oregon, and Montana, will push for wildfire relief.  The House Committee on Natural Resources posted an op-ed this week, urging Congress to address forest management reform.  Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) supports inclusion of forest management provisions in the Harvey aid packages but insists a stand-alone bill is necessary to address the damage caused by wildfires in the West.

BULLETIN BOARD

‘Fire Chasers’ Debuts on Netflix

Click here

California Water Commission Water Storage Investment Program Project Review Portal

Click here

NOFA: 2017 Community Development Block Grant Program

Click here

Apply Now: NACo Rural Impact County Challenge Community Coaching

Click here

DWR Preseason Flood Coordination Meetings

Click here

DWR Hosts SGMA Groundwater Sustainability Plan Workshop

Click here

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

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

Assembly Bill 425 (Caballero): Timber Harvesting Plans: Exemptions: Temporary Roads.  Assembly Bill 425 would expand the Forest Fire Prevention Pilot Project Exemption to allow the construction or reconstruction of temporary roads on slopes of 40 percent or less if certain conditions are met, including that a registered professional forester designates temporary road locations, associated class III watercourse crossings, and unstable areas, on specified maps.  Status: AB 425 awaits action on the Senate Floor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 524 (Bigelow): Public Utilities: Fines and Settlements. Assembly Bill 524 Appropriates moneys resulting from specified citations relating to the 2015 Butte Fire to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to be expended for the Department's program known as the State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund and Tree Mortality Grant Program. Status:  AB 524 awaits action on the Assembly Floor.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 560 (Salas): State Drinking Water Revolving Fund. Assembly Bill 560 would require the State Water Resources Control Board to provide a range of financing options to water system projects that serve severely disadvantaged communities. Status: AB 560 awaits action on the Senate Floor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 890 (Medina): Land Use: Planning and Zoning: Initiatives. Assembly 890 would require that the city council of a city or the board of supervisors of a county have exclusive authority to adopt or amend a document that converts any discretionary land use approval necessary for a project to ministerial approval to modify other land use or zoning designations. Status: AB 890 awaits consideration in the Assembly Local Government Committee. RCRC Position: Neutral

Assembly Bill 1250 (Jones-Sawyer): Counties and Cities: Personal Contract Services.  Assembly Bill 1250 would establish specific standards for the use of personal services contracts by counties.  Status: AB 1250 awaits consideration in the Senate Rules Committee. RCRC Position: Oppose

Assembly Bill 1414 (Friedman): Solar Energy System Permits. Assembly Bill 1414 would set a hard cap on permitting fees for solar installations. Status:  AB 1414 awaits action on the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position: Oppose

Assembly Bill 1665 (Garcia, Eduardo): Telecommunications: Advanced Services Fund: AB 1665 would revise eligibility requirements for projects and project applicants for grants funded from the California Advanced Services Fund. Status: AB 1665 awaits action on the Senate Floor. RCRC Position: Oppose Unless Amended

Senate Bill 167 (Skinner): Housing Accountability Act.  Senate Bill 167 would make significant changes to the Housing Accountability Act with new terms and definitions; broaden the ability to sue local governments, and increases fines on local governments. The author has committed to taking amendments to address local government concerns.  Status: SB 167 awaits action on the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position:  Support

Senate Bill 252 (Dodd): Well Permits. Senate Bill 252 relates to new well permits issued in critically over-drafted groundwater basins. Status:  SB 252 awaits action on the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position: Neutral

Senate Bill 265 (Berryhill): Disaster Relief. Senate Bill 265 provides that the state share for the removal of dead and dying trees in connection with the Governor's Proclamation of a State of Emergency issued on the specified date. Status:  AB 265 awaits final consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 458 (Wiener): Beverage Container Recycling: Mobile Recycling Program.  Senate Bill 458 would permit the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to establish several mobile recycling pilot projects.  Status: SB 458 awaits action on the Assembly Floor.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 563 (Lara): Residential Wood Smoke.  Senate Bill 563 would establish the Woodsmoke Reduction Program to replace old wood-burning stoves with cleaner and more efficient alternatives. Status: SB 563 awaits action on the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 623 (Monning): Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.  Senate Bill 623 would establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.  SB 623 would provide grants, loans, or services to assist those without access to safe and affordable drinking water. Status: SB 623 awaits consideration in the Assembly Rules Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 649 (Hueso): Wireless Telecommunications Facilities.  Senate Bill 649 would amend an existing law which provides that a wireless telecommunications collocation facility is subject to a city or county discretionary permit and is required to comply with specified criteria. Status: SB 649 awaits action on the Assembly Floor. RCRC Position: Oppose

REGULATORY UPDATE

RCRC members are encouraged to submit comments on regulatory matters to state and federal regulatory bodies, and to provide a copy to RCRC’s Government Affairs staff.  Click “Read More” to access information related to the current status of regulations impacting California’s rural counties.  

\Draft State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Filled Materials to Waters of the State.  Establishes a State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures), for inclusion in the forthcoming Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries and Ocean Waters of California.  The State version of the federal “Waters of the United States” rule.  Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Status: The draft was released July 21, 2017, with the comment deadline now extended to September 18, 2017.  Board hearing is set for September 6, 2017.  The notice, draft, staff reports, and all other related documents can be accessed here.  RCRC Comments: Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Pertaining to Vested Rights Determinations and Mining Ordinances.  The proposed amended regulatory language is intended to implement the updates to Public Resources Code Section 2774 based upon the statutory changes made by Assembly Bill 1142 (Grey, 2016) pertaining to vested rights determinations and mining ordinances.  Agency: Department of Conservation State Mining and Geology Board.  Status: The notice was released June 23, 2017, with comments due August 17, 2017, and final consideration for adoption on September 14, 2017.  The notice and draft can be accessed here.   RCRC Comments: Staff submitted comments and suggested language for consideration.  RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Pertaining to Surface Mining Operation Inspections.  The proposed amended 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 draft was published April 28, 2017, with comments due by June 12, 2017, and final consideration for adoption on September 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 mpitto@rcrcnet.org

Extension of Public Comment on Proposed Amendment to General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 General Permit).  The proposed amendment revises the implementation requirements of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) in Attachment G and modifies the corresponding Findings, Provisions, and Fact Sheet of the Small MS4 General Permit accordingly.  The proposed amendment specifically addresses the implementation of 73 Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).  Agency:  State Water Resources control Board.  Status:  The proposed amendments were first released June 5, 2017.  Submission of written comments has been extended to noon Monday, August 21, 2017. The notice and proposed amendments can be accessed hereRCRC Comments:   Staff is seeking input from member counties.  RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton sheaton@rcrcnet.org