News

Barbed Wire - April 13, 2012

RCRC Turns 40 in 2012

Legislation to Address Jail Inmate Medical Costs Passes Key Legislative Committee

Earlier this week, Assembly Bill 2261 (Valadao, R-Kings County) passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 5 to 0 vote. The bill authorizes a fee increase from $3 to $5 for non-emergency medical care visits by county inmates. Current law allows counties to impose a $3 inmate-initiated medical visit fee and the proceeds to be deposited into the county general fund. These proceeds help offset the costs of operating a county jail's medical program. The law only authorizes that the $3 fee – enacted in 1994 - be taken from an inmate’s jail cash account and not charged to an inmate’s assets, effectively deterring frivolous visits.

As stated in a letter to Assembly Member Valadao, RCRC believes an increase in the fee from $3 to $5 is appropriate since counties are facing higher jail medical costs, particularly since the enactment of AB 109 (also known as prison realignment). Sierra County Supervisor Lee Adams worked alongside RCRC staff to ensure the bill was crafted appropriately and that it achieves cost reductions to counties.

The bill will be considered by the full State Assembly in the coming weeks, where passage is likely.  For questions or comments, please contact RCRC’s Paul A. Smith at 916-447-4806.

RCRC-Sponsored Veterans Bill Clears Final Policy Committee in Assembly

Assembly Bill 1592 (Olsen, R-Modesto), passed out of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee this week after previously clearing the Assembly Local Government Committee.  Co-sponsored by RCRC and Mono County, AB 1592 allows counties the discretion to waive building permits and inspection fees for disabled veterans seeking to make Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) type modifications to their homes.  Many wounded veterans struggle with re-integration into civilian life; disability due to a service-related injury only exacerbates these problems.  By allowing the county to waive certain fees, the bill permits counties to support these returning soldiers and better help them adjust to their lives. (To read a copy of the RCRC letter please click here.) Since the bill has no fiscal impact to the state, it goes directly to the Assembly floor where it awaits action by the entire body.

For more information please contact RCRC’s Cyndi Hillery at 916-447-4806, or chillery@rcrcnet.org.

Land Use and Flood Protection Legislation Clears First Policy Committee

This week Senate Bill 1278 (Wolk) passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, recognizing that it is still a “work in progress”. The bill addresses planning and zoning related to flood protection in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley.

SB 1278 attempts to address county concerns related to provisions of existing law from SB 5 and the rest of the legislative flood protection package that was signed into law in 2007. RCRC Board Chair and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann testified before the committee regarding county concerns with the bill’s current vague language, referencing the joint RCRC letter sent to Senator Wolk. Vann highlighted a number of issues that impede the ability of counties to implement the bill as proposed, such as the lack of information available in order to comply with the law; and that local governments cannot impose building restrictions or deny projects without detailed technical data (from the State) to back up their decisions. Vann shared that counties, as well as cities, are prohibited from entering into development agreements, approving permits, entitlements or subdivision maps unless certain findings are made. She added that as currently written, SB 1278 doesn’t address the detailed technical information local governments need to identify impacted properties subject to permitting and building restrictions.

Senator Wolk acknowledged the unintended consequences of the bill’s language and agreed to try and address these. SB 1278 has been referred to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee for a hearing.

For questions or comments, please contact Kathy Mannion at 916-447-4806.

State Agencies Release Draft Climate Change Adaptation Policy Guide

The California Resources Agency and California Emergency Agency have joined together to release the draft California Climate Change Adaptation Policy Guide, a guidebook to aid regional and local entities in devising strategies to deal with the effects of climate change on local conditions. The state envisions that the document be used as a step-by-step guide in developing climate adaptation policies, as well as providing data and resources for local and regional entities who wish to develop such policies.

The draft guide was released on April 9 during the Office of Planning and Research’s Conference on Confronting Climate Change: A Focus on Local Government Impacts, Actions and Resources. Comments are due by May 18.  To view the draft guide and instructions on filing comments, please visit http://resources.ca.gov/climate_adaptation/local_government/adaptation_policy_guide.html

RCRC staff is reviewing the draft guide and will file comments. Rural counties are encouraged to do the same and send copies of their comments to RCRC’s Staci Heaton at sheaton@rcrcnet.org.

Please contact RCRC’s Staci Heaton at sheaton@rcrcnet.org with questions.

Funding Opportunities from the Grants Clearinghouse to Open May 21, 2012

California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) has been advised that the Grants Clearinghouse will receive approximately $4.5 million in grant funds from the U.S. Forest Service State Fire Assistance program this fiscal year for the 2013 grant cycle. The U.S Forest Service grant funds require a 50% cost share/match ("dollar for dollar"), although grant applications with less than a 50% match will be accepted. CFSC will host several Grant Writing Workshops throughout California starting in June 2012. For more information, or an updated Request for Applications and Planning Tool, please visit http://grants.firesafecouncil.org/ by the opening date of the Clearinghouse.

Fish and Wildlife Executive Committee Adopts Strategic Vision

The California Fish and Wildlife Strategic Vision Executive Committee adopted a Strategic Vision this week in accordance with Assembly Bill 2376 (Huffman, 2010).  The Strategic Vision aims to guide future direction of both the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission). The Strategic Vision should be available April 20 at www.vision.ca.gov.  

Since the release of the interim strategic vision in February 2012, the Blue Ribbon Citizen Commission and Stakeholder Advisory Group have held several meetings to prepare additional recommendations, which have been adopted by the Executive Committee. Examples of these additional recommendations include creating a permanent stakeholder group to periodically advise DFG and the Commission as they move forward; building capacity within DFG to address the complex role that science plays in resource management; and to require open and transparent accounting practices within the Department and Commission to improve public confidence in the organizations.

Please contact Nick Konovaloff at nkonovaloff@rcrcnet.org or (916) 447-4806 with any questions or comments.

Mark Cowin Appointed Director of Department of Water Resources

Mark Cowin has been appointed by the Governor as Director of the California Department of Water Resources, and the position requires Senate confirmation. Cowin has served as Acting Director of the California Department of Water Resources since 2010. From 1981 to 2010, he served in multiple positions at the Department of Water Resources, including junior civil engineer and deputy director.