The Barbed Wire - February 12, 2021

February 12, 2021
State and Direct County Funding in President’s Coronavirus Relief Package
Bill of the Week: SB 286 (Min) – County Officers Elections: Consolidation With Statewide Elections
Registration Now Open - Redistricting Webinar Series- Part 1
RCRC Names Patrick S. Blacklock as Next President/CEO
Available Now - Hometown California Interview with State Controller Betty Yee
Update on Board of Forestry Regulations Proposal
State to Establish Home and Community Hardening Standards for Insurance
RCRC Calls for Urgent Actions to Increase Consumer Access to Convenient Beverage Container Redemption Opportunities
California Public Utilities Commission Adopts Minimum Wireline Communications System Resiliency Requirements
Applications Welcome for New SGIP Energy Storage Program Opportunity for Local Governments

State and Direct County Funding in President’s Coronavirus Relief Package

On Tuesday evening, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over state and local funding, released its portion of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus (COVID-19) reconciliation package.  Notably for RCRC, the House Oversight and Reform Committees’ draft legislative text includes nearly all of its $350.7 billion funding allocation going toward state, local, and tribal aid.  Nationally, counties are expected to be allocated $65.1 billion, which will be allocated directly to county treasuries based on population.  The U.S. Treasury will be in charge of distributing these funds within 60 days of receiving a certification of need from counties and other local governments.  These dollars will not have an expiration date and can be used to cover the following expenses: 

  1. Respond to or mitigate the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 emergency or its negative economic impacts. 
  2. Cover costs incurred as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. 
  3. Replace revenue that was lost, delayed or decreased as determined based on projections of the government as of January 27, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. 
  4. Address negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 disease.

Despite the positive news for counties across the country, the releasing of this legislative text by the House Oversight and Reform Committee does not mean counties will be able to see their allocations just yet.  Firstly, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will need to markup the bill, which is expected to take place on February 12th.  The bill will then go to the House Budget Committee which will reconcile all pieces of the various texts from the other House committees.  From there, the bill is expected to go to the House Floor for a vote by late next week, and passage is expected.  In the U.S. Senate, action on the bill will be deferred until the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump has concluded.  This is likely to mean that a bill is expected to reach President Biden’s desk for signature in mid-March. 
Click here to view the estimated amounts RCRC-member counties are likely to receive.
Click here to read the House Oversight and Reform Committee bill text.
Click here to read the one pager.
Additional details on the $350.7 billion allocation:

  • Any county that chooses to request funds from the U.S. Treasury will be ineligible to request funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or any other U.S. government source for the same expenditures.
  • States will receive $195 billion directly; it is anticipated the State of California will utilize some of these monies to further support county programs such as vaccine roll-out.
  • There are no direct “claw-back” mechanisms; however if the demonstrated need submitted to the U.S. Treasury by counties is deemed to not fit the aforementioned criteria, or the money is not spent appropriately once received, the U.S. Treasury does have the authority to require its return.
  • Currently, the legislation only calls for a “general statement” of certification on how the money will be spent; however the U.S. Treasury could come up with additional guidelines after the bill is signed into law and rulemaking proceedings occur.
  • Cities above 50,000 in population will receive a direct allocation; cities under 50,000 in population will have their monies allocated through the State of California.

RCRC has continually advocated for direct funding to counties to be included in any next round of federal coronavirus relief, regardless of county size and with minimal restrictions on the use of those monies. As this relief package moves through the process, this remains RCRC’s top federal priority.

Bill of the Week: SB 286 (Min) – County Officers Elections: Consolidation With Statewide Elections

RCRC has officially opposed Senate Bill 286, authored by Senator Dave Min (D–Irvine).  SB 286 is very similar to last year’s Senate Bill 1450 (Umberg), which the RCRC Board of Directors took action to oppose.  SB 286 would require the top-two vote-getters seeking election to a county office to face-off in a General Election.

SB 286 would essentially change the current election model for elected county offices by requiring the top-two vote-receiving candidates for a county office in a Primary Election to advance to a run-off in the General Election, including candidates who receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the Primary Election.  

Counties, along with other locally-elected offices, have operated under the current election model for several decades, and it is generally agreed that government has worked well.  SB 286 is unnecessary and would prolong an already lengthy and expensive campaign, especially for seats on the Board of Supervisors.  

RCRC’s letter of opposition can be accessed here.  For more information, contact Paul A. Smith, RCRC Senior Vice President Governmental Affairs, at (916) 447-4806 or

Registration Now Open - Redistricting Webinar Series- Part 1

CSAC and RCRC have teamed up to bring you a two part webinar series that will break down all you need to know about redistricting for your county. The Redistricting Webinar Series – Part 1  focuses on legal requirements, including the Voting Rights Act and changes as a result of AB 849 (2019), and will be of interest to county counsel, redistricting staff, and others who need a working knowledge of the technical aspect of redistricting. The webinar series is open to all supervisor and county staff. Register now for Part 1, occurring on Friday, March 5, 10am-12pm


  • Chris Skinnell, Nielsen Merksamer
  • Marguerite Leoni, Nielsen Merksamer
  • Douglas Johnson, National Demographics Corporation

Date: Friday, March 5, 2021
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Register now!

Part two (date to be announced) will be a conversation with county supervisors and staff on best practices and what you can expect the redistricting process to look like on the ground. If you have any questions please reach out to Dorothy Poole (RCRC) or Ada Waelder (CSAC).

RCRC Names Patrick S. Blacklock as Next President/CEO

On Wednesday, the RCRC Board of Directors voted unanimously to appoint Patrick S. Blacklock as RCRC’s next President/CEO.  Mr. Blacklock assumes the position from Greg Norton who is retiring after 21 years of service with RCRC.  Over a span of five months, the RCRC Executive Committee/Search Committee conducted an extensive recruitment for Mr. Norton’s replacement, and submitted the name of Patrick Blacklock to the Board of Directors for appointment.

Since 2010, Mr. Blacklock has served as Yolo County’s Chief Administrative Officer, and has served as the County Administrative Officer of Amador County and Assistant City Manager of Elk Grove.  Before his municipal career, Mr. Blacklock worked in governmental affairs as Vice President, Government Relations and Director, Administration and Policy Analysis for the California Cattlemen’s Association.

Mr. Blacklock will take the helm of the thirty-seven member county organization on April 5th. 

Available Now - Hometown California Interview with State Controller Betty Yee

On the latest episode of Hometown California, RCRC Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs, Paul Smith, speaks to State Controller Betty Yee.  Paul and Ms. Yee discuss the importance of the relationship between the State and its rural counties and how the two intersect in managing and deploying state resources. With over 35 years in the public sector, learn about how Ms. Yee’s foray into public service began at a very young age.  Hear about the role of the Controller’s Office, and Ms. Yee’s insights about the financial health of rural California counties and the factors that have influenced the evolving landscape of rural county finances. 

Find every episode of Hometown California on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or your favorite listen app.

Update on Board of Forestry Regulations Proposal

This week the California Board of Forestry (BOF) released a revised draft of its proposed changes to the State Fire Safe regulations. The February 8th proposal is accompanied by an explanatory memo and attachment outlining revisions to the language and specific areas of focus for stakeholder feedback.

The BOF has scheduled a public workshop for February 24 at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the revised draft rulemaking language.  BOF staff is requesting that comments on the new proposal be submitted by February 17th in order to allow staff time to consider the feedback before the workshop.  All public comments received by the BOF since the first workshop in November are now available for viewing on the BOF website, and will be updated weekly.

The State Fire Safe regulations set forth basic wildfire protection standards for development in the State Responsibility Area and, beginning July 1, 2021, the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones of the Local Responsibility Area.

For updates from the BOF on the Fire Safe Regulations and other activities of the BOF Resource Protection Committee, subscribe to email updates here. For more information, please contact Tracy Rhine at

State to Establish Home and Community Hardening Standards for Insurance

On Monday, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced that his office has formed a partnership with Governor Newsom’s Administration to establish home and community hardening standards statewide to reduce risk for those living in wildfire prone areas as well as to help make insurance more readily available and affordable in high fire risk areas.  The partnership includes the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), all of which have been evaluating the effectiveness and necessity for community-wide and individual homeowner mitigation standards as California’s annual wildfire seasons have worsened. 

While the hardening program is still in development and the role of the insurance industry is unclear, the new partnership hopes to develop a statewide retrofitting program for communities and homeowners in high fire risk areas that will ultimately lead to not only safeguarding them from high severity wildfires, but will also incentivize insurers to offer more affordable policies in areas where they are currently withdrawing coverage.  The various agencies and departments are slated to begin meeting sometime this month, although it is unclear if those meetings will be open to the public.  The Commissioner’s full press release on the partnership can be viewed on the Department of Insurance website.


RCRC Calls for Urgent Actions to Increase Consumer Access to Convenient Beverage Container Redemption Opportunities

On Tuesday, RCRC spearheaded a local government effort calling upon the Legislature to make several changes to increase consumer access to beverage container redemption opportunities.  California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program is built upon a consumer deposit system in which it should be easy for consumers to get their deposits back (consumers pay the deposit at the time of purchase). With the closure of many certified recycling centers, beverage container redemption opportunities do not exist for many Californians. Over half of California’s counties have five or fewer recycling centers, with three counties having no centers, seven having a single center, and six having only two centers.  Without convenient redemption opportunities, the Beverage Container Recycling Program can easily become a regressive tax that disproportionately impacts lower-income Californians.  

Among the immediate actions RCRC urged the Legislature to adopt are:

  • Devoting additional funding to open/reopen recycling centers in rural and underserved areas.
  • Authorizing CalRecycle to provide additional flexibility to redemption centers, including hours of operation, daily load limits, and allowing use of appointments.
  • Allow the Director of CalRecycle to increase payments to recycling centers in rural and underserved areas to account for the higher transportation and recycling costs of recycling and transportation.

Additionally, RCRC submitted letters to the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees supporting a CalRecycle proposal to expand the number of beverage container recycling pilot projects and extend the duration of the program. In its letter, RCRC suggested many of the same programmatic changes noted above. Coupled with slight program changes, increasing the number of pilot projects could help increase the ability for rural Californians to get their beverage container deposits back.

California Public Utilities Commission Adopts Minimum Wireline Communications System Resiliency Requirements

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously adopted a Decision requiring wireline communications providers to increase system resiliency so they can remain operational during power outages.  The CPUC’s actions are in direct response to the widespread loss of communications service during the late 2019 Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. This Decision helps ensure that rural wireline-dependent communities enjoy the same levels of communications resiliency as do those who have reliable access to wireless communications coverage in Tier 2 and Tier 3 High Fire Threat Districts, such as maintaining service for a minimum of 72-hours immediately following a power outage; maintaining customer access to 9-1-1 service, emergency notifications, and basic internet browsing; and submitting waivers for facilities where it is unsafe or objectively impossible or infeasible to deploy backup power (and discuss actions to mitigate the resulting service loss).

Within the next eight months, wireline providers are ordered to implement 72-hour backup power requirements for critical facilities and network equipment in communities that lack sufficient wireless coverage, and wireline providers must implement 72-hour backup power requirements for all remaining facilities across Tier 2 and Tier 3 High Fire Threat Districts within the next 18 months.

RCRC engaged extensively in this proceeding and many of our suggestions were incorporated in both the Wireless Decision (D.20-07-011) and this Decision.  RCRC again sincerely appreciates the efforts of Supervisors Ted Williams (Mendocino), Lynda Hopkins (Sonoma), David Griffith (Alpine), Lee Adams (Sierra), and Ryan Coonerty (Santa Cruz), and their staff, in preparation of RCRC comments and testimony in this proceeding.  Please contact John Kennedy, RCRC Legislative Advocate, with any questions or for more information.

Applications Welcome for New SGIP Energy Storage Program Opportunity for Local Governments

On Friday, January 15, 2021, RCRC hosted an informational webinar on the new California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Self Generation Incentive Program for Large Thermal Energy Storage (SGIP L-TES).  The new energy storage incentive program mandated by the CPUC is currently accepting applications.  Funds are limited and will be available to fund energy storage solutions for public and private buildings which are equipped with chillers.  Local governments with buildings fitting this profile (administrative centers, courthouses, jails, etc.) are eligible applicants for the SGIP L-TES program.

Eligible applicants include customers of California’s Investor Owned Utility (IOU) companies - Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas, and San Diego Gas & Electric.  The program will cover most, if not all, of the costs associated with the acquisition and installation of specialized energy storage equipment to work with chilled water systems.  IOU customers who take advantage of this program to install new energy storage systems will be able to significantly lower their cooling bills, increase resilience, and better position their facility budgets against future rate changes.

For more information about this program and the application process, please contact Barbara Hayes, RCRC Chief Economic Development Officer.


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


Career Opportunity - County of Del Norte Seeks County Administrative Officer

Del Norte County is seeking a dynamic professional who can lead County Administration and improve the services it provides for the community. The "Results Based Accountability" model of delivering and assessing services will be the primary tool by which the new County Administrative Officer will be evaluated. ln addition, the successful candidate should have excellent team building skills and be adept at forging and strengthening partnerships with all other community development agencies in the community. For more information,see the job bulletin here.

Applications are due by March 4, 2021. Application materials are found here.


Career Opportunity - County of Del Norte Seeks Local Transportation Commission Executive Director 

The Del Norte County Local Transportation Commission (DNLTC) seeks proposals to provide the services of an Executive Director. The Executive Director provides services in transportation administration, planning, coordination, and has training and experience to perform all aspects of the job. The DNLTC expects an agreement with the successful candidate to be entered into on or before June 30, 2021. The contract will be for a term of five years commencing on July 1, 2021. Submission deadline is March 5, 2021. For more information, see here.


Resource pages, deadline extensions, and available programs to assist communities impacted by COVID-19.


DWR Provides Tips for Holding Online Meetings to Address Groundwater Sustainability Plans

As Groundwater Sustainability Plans are being developed to meet the January 2022 deadline, several counties (and water agencies) have asked for advice for engaging stakeholders and interested parties through online resources.  In response to community interest, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Sustainable Groundwater Management Office has put together examples, tips, and tactics to consider. The DWR tips are available here.


Coronavirus Relief Available from the Small Business Administration

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several coronavirus relief options to help alleviate the financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The programs have received an overwhelming number of applications from businesses, so be sure to check the SBA website for the latest updates on the status of these programs.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. After initial funding was quickly depleted, the program received an infusion of an additional $310 billion, allowing the SBA to resume the program on April 27, 2020. Be sure to check the SBA website for the most recent information on the application process and availability of funds.
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans can be used to bridge the gap for businesses while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan; small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  • SBA Debt Relief provides a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are interested in programs for other disasters, the SBA Disaster Loan Assistance portal is available here.


Economic Development Resources for Communities and Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

The California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) has assembled resources for communities and business impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The page will be continually evolving as new resources become available. To go directly to the CALED resources, click here.


Use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Infectious Disease Response

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds may be used for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Check out the Quick Guide to CDBG Eligible Activities to Support Infectious Disease Response for guidance and additional information.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Resource Page Available

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC), RCRC’s local government partner, continues to provide excellent up-to-date state and federal information to counties on this ever-changing pandemic event.  We encourage visiting CSAC’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains vital links to all CSAC COVID-19 advocacy letters and resources.  CSAC’s staff continues to work around the clock to update activities so that all of California’s counties can remain properly informed.


Information related to the current status of legislation and regulations impacting California’s rural counties.

Assembly Bill 1 (C. Garcia): Hazardous Waste: Assembly Bill 1 Establishes several new governance, policy, and fiscal reforms to improve the Department of Toxic Substances Control, including significantly increasing several fees and repealing several important fee exemptions. Status: AB 1 is awaiting consideration by the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Assembly Bill 33 (Ting): Natural Gas: Prohibits new public buildings from having natural gas connections and utilities from subsidizing natural gas line connections. Status: AB 33 is awaiting consideration in the Assembly Utilities and Energy and natural Resources Committee.  RCRC Status: Watch

Assembly Bill 318 (Legine): Hazardous waste: Assembly Bill 318 excludes from classification as hazardous waste green waste that has not been contaminated by a hazardous or toxic chemical during production, harvest, or processing.  Allows those green wastes to be disposed in a permitted solid or hazardous waste landfill or composting operation.  Status:  AB 318 awaits referral to a policy committee in the Assembly.  RCRC Status:  Pending

Assembly Bill 322 (Salas): Energy: Electric Program Investment Charge program: Assembly Bill 322 requires the Energy Commission to allocate at least 20% of all funds appropriated for the Electric Program Investment Charge program (roughly $25 million annually) to bioenergy projects for biomass conversion. Status: AB 322 awaits referral to a policy committee in the Assembly.  RCRC Status: Pending 

Assembly Bill 332 (ESTM): Hazardous waste: treated wood waste: Assembly Bill 332 seeks to reestablish a statutory pathway for the alternative management and disposal of treated wood waste in a landfill.  STATUS:  AB 332 awaits referral to a policy committee in the Assembly.  RCRC Status:  Support.

Senate Bill 7 (Atkins): Jobs and Economic Improvement Environmental Leadership. Senate Bill 7 requires a lead agency to prepare a master environmental impact report (EIR) for a general plan, plan amendment, plan element, or specific plan for housing projects where the state has provided funding for the preparation of the master EIR. Allows for limited review of proposed subsequent housing projects that are described in the master EIR if the use of the master EIR is consistent with specified provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act. Status: SB 7 awaits consideration by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. RCRC Status: Watch

Senate Bill 30 (Cortese): Building Decarbonization: Senate Bill 30 prohibits state agencies from designing or constructing a state facility that is connected to the natural gas grid and prohibits state agencies from funding projects for the construction of residential and nonresidential buildings that are connected to the natural gas grid. Status: Senate Bill 30 awaits consideration by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. RCRC Status: Watch

Senate Bill 38 (Wieckowski): Beverage Containers: Senate Bill 38 replaces the existing Beverage Container Recycling Program (Bottle Bill) with a new recycling program administered by beverage container manufacturers and increases the CRV from $0.05 to $0.10 per container if the state fails to achieve specified recycling rates. Status: SB 38 awaits consideration by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

 Senate Bill 42 (Wieckowski): Department of Toxic Substances Control:  Senate Bill 42 establishes a new Board of Environmental safety to oversee the Department of Toxic Substances Control, consider permit appeals, and propose regulatory changes and establishes an ombudsperson to make and receive public complaints and suggestions.  SB 42 is anticipated to be amended to also include many of the fiscal changes suggested by the Administration to address DTSC’s structural deficit. Status: SB 42 awaits consideration by the Senate Environmental Quality committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 52 (Dodd): State of Emergency: Power Outages. Senate Bill 52 clarifies that deenergization events (also known as PSPS events) qualify as events for which a state of emergency or local emergency can be declared under the California Emergency Services Act. Status: SB 52 awaits consideration in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 99 (Dodd): Community Energy Resilience Act of 2021: Senate Bill 99 requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans. It also sets forth guiding principles for plan development, including equitable access to reliable energy and integration with other existing local planning documents. Status: SB 99 awaits consideration in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.  RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 207 (Dahle): Photovoltaic Recycling Advisory Group: Senate Bill 207 seeks to spur the recycling and reuse of solar photovoltaic panels by requiring an advisory group to make recommendations to ensure that, to the extent possible, all solar photovoltaic panels in the state are reused or recycled at the end of their lives in a safe and cost-effective manner. Status: SB 207 awaits consideration by the Senate Rules Committee. RCRC Status:  Support

Senate Bill 244 (Archuleta): Lithium-ion batteries: illegal disposal: fire prevention: Senate Bill seeks to prevent lithium-ion battery fires by requiring the state to develop training and best practices for the detection, safe handling, and suppression of fires that originate from discarded lithium-ion batteries in solid waste collection vehicles, transfer and processing stations, and disposal facilities.  Status: SB 244 awaits consideration from the Senate Environmental Quality and Natural Resources and Water Committee. RCRC Status: Support 

Senate Bill 286 (Min): County Officer Elections Top-Two Advance. Senate Bill 286 would require the top-two vote-getters seeking election to a county office to face-off in a General Election.  In other words, candidates for county supervisor, sheriff, et. al who receive 50% +1 in the Primary would face an opponent at the General Election.  Status: SB 286 awaits consideration in the Senate Elections & Constitutional Amendments Committee and the Senate Governance & Finance Committee. RCRC Status: Oppose