The Barbed Wire - April 05, 2019

April 5, 2019
Thom Porter’s Confirmation Moves Forward as Chief of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Rural Housing Update
Cannabis Banking Update
Tehama County Unveils New Capitol Display
Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 414 (Caballero) – Small System Water Authority Act of 2019

Thom Porter’s Confirmation Moves Forward as Chief of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

On Wednesday, the California State Senate Rules Committee voted to confirm Thom Porter as Chief of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).  Staci Heaton, RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocate, testified in support of Chief Porter following RCRC’s official confirmation endorsement last month.  Mr. Porter’s nomination will now go before the State Senate and his formal confirmation is likely to occur in the coming weeks.  

At their Board meeting on March 13th, the RCRC Board of Directors adopted a policy to offer a support position for Gubernatorial appointees during the California State Senate’s confirmation process.  As such, RCRC officially endorsed the confirmation of Thom Porter as Chief of CAL FIRE.  RCRC’s confirmation support letter can be accessed here.

Rural Housing Update

On Tuesday, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance (Subcommittee) held a hearing titled “The Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural America: Assessing the Federal Response.”  The hearing brought attention to the foreclosure crisis and rental housing shortages that deprive rural families from affordable housing opportunities.  

The Subcommittee considered several legislative proposals to reform Section 514 and 515 of the Housing Act, which authorize loan programs that provide housing opportunities for the elderly and low-income families in rural areas.  Many of the housing contracts that are financed through Section 514 and Section 515 loans are expiring over the next decade which could displace over 400,000 households.

The aging housing stock in rural areas has increased the rate of rural residents living in substandard housing that lack basic considerations of health, safety, and dignity.  The decaying supply of housing is partially the result of a steady decline of federal investment in rural housing programs, particularly for low and very low income households.  House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-California) told her colleagues there is a clear need for new federal investment in rural housing to address the substandard housing supply and the impending displacement of households living under Section 514 and Section 515 loans.  Chair Waters also said rural housing is an issue of bipartisan concern and a potential area for cooperation with her Republican colleagues.

Cannabis Banking Update

This week, Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) reintroduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES), a bill that would enable states to enforce their own marijuana laws within their borders.  The bill would amend the Controlled Substance Act, so that “its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with State or tribal laws relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marijuana.”  

Included among the provisions that would limit federal enforcement of marijuana laws, the STATES Act would lift the federal prohibition on banking services for marijuana related businesses in states where marijuana has been legalized.  After the legislation was reintroduced, Senator Gardner told reporters that President Trump supports the proposal, however it remains unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) will help push the bill through the Senate.  Without support from Majority Leader McConnell it is uncertain whether the STATES Act will pass the Senate, despite the promise of the President’s signature.

In the House, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and David Joyce (R-Ohio) introduced a companion version of the bill.  Last month, the House Financial Services Committee approved the SAFE Banking Act, legislation that narrowly targets the federal prohibition on cannabis banking.  The House may decide to take on the broader STATES Act which already has support from the White House, according to Senator Gardner.

Tehama County Unveils New Capitol Display

On Wednesday, Tehama County Supervisors Bob Williams and Steve Chamblin were in Sacramento with the Tehama County Economic Development team to unveil the new Tehama County display at the Capitol.  Read More…

Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 414 (Caballero) – Small System Water Authority Act of 2019

RCRC has lent its support to Senate Bill 414, authored by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Monterey).  SB 414 creates the Small System Water Authority Act of 2019.


Specifically, SB 414 provides a process for failing public water systems that serve less than 10,000 people or less than 3,000 service connections to come into compliance, or be absorbed into a new Small System Water Authority (Authority) created by the State Water Resources Control Board and the applicable Local Agency Formation Commission.  The new Authority would work to competently operate currently non-compliant public water systems with either contiguous or non-contiguous boundaries.

RCRC’s support letter can be accessed here.  Currently, SB 414 awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  For more information, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate, can be reached at (916) 447-4806 or


Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.

Cannabis Cultivation Regulation Workshop Scheduled – UPDATED AGENDA

The California Association of Environmental Health Administrators, the California Environmental Health Association, and the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers will be sponsoring a workshop to discuss environmental and safety issues associated with cannabis cultivation on Thursday, May 30, in Murphys.  The purpose of the workshop is to review and discuss environmental and safety issues related to regulated and illegal cultivation of cannabis.

The workshop will feature speakers from the Integral Ecology Research Center, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Water Quality Control Board, the Sonoma County Growers Alliance, and the Berkeley Department of Environmental Science.  The workshop will be structured so that there will be plenty of time for discussion by attendees.  Policy makers, regulators, law enforcement officers, and community members are encouraged to participate.

The workshop will be held Thursday, May 30, at the Ironstone Vineyards: 894 6 Mile Road, Murphys, California.  Meeting materials, including agenda/registration form can be accessed here.


Department of Conservation Releases Working Lands and Riparian Corridors Program Guidelines and First Two Solicitations

California Natural Resources Agency has awarded $20 million in funding for Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program.  Funded by Cap-and-Trade revenues through California Climate Investments, the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program aims to help communities prioritize, develop, and implement projects to strengthen fire resiliency, increase carbon sequestration, and facilitate greenhouse gas reductions. The program is one element of the state’s efforts to improve forest health, protect communities from wildfire risk and implement the California Forest Carbon Plan and Executive Order B-52-18. Projects funded through the program will build on priority projects identified by the Forest Management Task Force and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection through Executive Order N-05-19. The Program is administered by the Department of Conservation.

Six regional block grants are being awarded on a noncompetitive basis to support project implementation in the North Coast, Central Coast, Sierra Nevada, Klamath-Cascade, and Southern California Regions. In addition, two grants are being awarded to assist in implementing statewide efforts. Regional block grant recipients will oversee distribution of funding and collaborative planning with local entities including municipal and Tribal governments, nonprofits and community organizations, fire safe councils, land trusts, resource conservation districts, residents, private and public forest landowners and managers, businesses, and others to accomplish the program’s objectives. Block grant recipients were selected based on their history of implementing related projects, demonstrated capacity to work across regional partners, and ability to serve as fiscal administrators for the program.  For more information on how to participate please contact your regional block grant recipient.

The block grant recipients by region include:

North Coast:

• The North Coast Resource Partnership, $4.25 million

Central California:

• California State Coastal Conservancy, $4.25 million

Southern California:

• Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, $1.5 million

• Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, $1.5 million

• Greater San Diego Resource Conservation District, $1.5 million

Sierra and Klamath-Cascade:

• Sierra Nevada Conservancy, $2 million

• Assembly Bill 2551 implementation (awardees to be determined), $2 million


• Watershed Research and Training Center in partnership with the California Fire Safe

Council, $3 million


NOFA: Senate Bill 2 Planning Grants Program

Click here


RCRC members are encouraged to share letters addressed to state and federal representatives and regulatory bodies with RCRC’s Government Affairs staff.  Click “Read More” to access information related to the current status of legislation impacting California’s rural counties. 

Assembly Bill 217 (Garcia, E.): Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. Assembly Bill 217 establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in the State Treasury and provides that moneys in the fund are available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to the State Water Resources Control Board to provide a stable source of funding to secure access to safe drinking water for all Californians, while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of drinking water service and infrastructure. Status:  AB 217 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Position: Pending

Assembly Bill 343 (Patterson) Forestry: Biomass Energy. Assembly Bill 343 would require the California Natural Resources Agency to create and implement a program to offset the costs of transporting fuels to a biomass energy facility. Status: AB 343 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 394 (Obernolte): California Environmental Quality Act: Exemption: Fire Safety. Assembly Bill 394 expedites fire safety improvements for subdivisions that are at significant fire risk and lack a secondary escape route. Status: AB 394 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1080/Senate Bill 54 (Gonzalez): Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction. AB 1080/SB 54 would establish the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which would require the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to adopt regulations to source reduce and recycle 75 percent of single use packaging and products sold or distributed in California by 2030. Status: AB 1080/SB 54 awaits consideration in their respective Appropriations Committees.  RCRC Status: Support if Amended

Assembly Bill 1111 (Friedman): Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation. Assembly Bill 1111 would stablish the Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation in state government. Requires the office to undertake certain activities, including supporting the outdoor recreation economy of the state by engaging in specified activities. Requires the office to create an advisory committee to provide advice, expertise, support, and service to the office. Authorizes the office to receive the assistance and funds from public and private sources. Status: AB 1111 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1144 (Friedman): Self-Generation Incentive Program. Assembly Bill 1144 requires the California Public Utilities Commission to establish pilot projects to install community energy storage systems in high-fire threat districts.  Status: AB 1144 awaits consideration in the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 19 (Dodd): Water Resources: Stream Gages. Senate Bill 19 requires the California Department of Water Resources to develop a plan to deploy a network of stream gages that includes a determination of new needs as well as opportunities for reactivating existing gages. Status:  SB 19 awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 45 (Allen): Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act 2020. Senate Bill 45 enacts the Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020, which, if approved by voters, authorizes the issuance of bonds to finance projects to restore fire damaged areas, reduce wildfire risk, create healthy forests and watersheds, reduce climate impacts on urban areas and vulnerable populations, protect water supply and water quality, protect rivers, lakes and streams, reduce flood risk, protect fish and wildlife from climate impacts, and protect coastal lands and resources. Status: SB 45 awaits consideration in the Senate Governance & Finance Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 67 (McGuire): Cannabis: Temporary and Provisional Licenses. Senate Bill 67 would extend the time-period for which a temporary license is valid when issued by state cannabis licensing entities, and would ease the process for cannabis operators to obtain a provisional cannabis license as a step toward full licensure. Status: SB 67 awaits consideration in the Assembly. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 209 (Dodd): California Wildfire Warning Center: Weather Monitoring. Senate Bill 209 would establish the California Wildfire Warning Center, a statewide network of automated weather and environmental monitoring stations conducting fire weather forecasting and threat assessment to aid in wildfire prevention and response.  Status: SB 209 awaits consideration in the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 247 (Dodd): Wildland Fire Prevention: Vegetation Management. Senate Bill 247 shifts the responsibility for identifying trees and other vegetation near power lines that utilities must remove from the individual utilities to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.  Status: SB 247 awaits consideration in the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee. RCRC Position: Oppose Unless Amended

Senate Bill 414 (Caballero): Small Systems Water Authority Act of 2019. Senate Bill 414 creates the Small System Water Authority Act of 2019 and states legislative findings and declarations relating to authorizing the creation of small system water authorities that will have powers to absorb, improve, and competently operate noncompliant public water systems. Status: SB 414 awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 724 (Stern): California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter. Senate Bill 724 makes a number of changes to the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (commonly known as the Bottle Bill).  In addition to providing regulatory relief to retailers, the bill adjusts payments and incentives to stabilize existing recycling businesses and bring more recyclers to rural and unserved areas. Status: SB 724 awaits consideration in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. RCRC Position: Support