The Barbed Wire - February 23, 2018

February 23, 2018
2018 Bill Introduction Deadline
California Water Commission Hearing Met with Criticism and Skepticism
Rural Infrastructure Package Update

2018 Bill Introduction Deadline

Last Friday marked the deadline for the introduction of bills for the 2018 portion of the Legislative Session.  RCRC’s Governmental Affairs team is in the throes of analyzing the various legislative proposals, and will be considering positions over the next few weeks.  

An up-to-date synopsis of bills impacting California’s rural counties and RCRC’s position can be accessed via the Legislative Update in each week’s Barbed Wire.  Details on the more than 5,000 introduced bills can be found via RCRC’s Legislative and Regulatory Tracking Tool, accessed here

California Water Commission Hearing Met with Criticism and Skepticism

The California Water Commission (CWC), tasked with dispersing Proposition 1 funds, met on Wednesday to some criticism and skepticism after its staff concluded earlier this month that no water projects proposed thus far meet the initial cost-benefit test.  The announcement confounded the water and farming districts vying for the state bond funding, along with elected officials who helped craft the 2014 proposition.  This week’s meeting was an opportunity for the CWC to review and take additional comment on the status of the applications that CWC staff had assessed and determined lacking.  

Several lawmakers, including Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) and Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), asked the CWC to release the funds earmarked for new water projects, urging expediency as California experiences a very dry winter.

Proposals for Proposition 1 funding range from new groundwater banks, existing reservoir expansions and multi-billion-dollar new dam projects.  Proponents say the projects will add valuable water storage without damaging the environment.

Passed overwhelmingly by voters at the height of California’s most recent drought, Proposition 1 appropriated $2.7 billion for new lakes and water storage.  The measure, which did not earmark funding for any specific project, requires the CWC to grade applications on overall public benefit, relative environmental value, resiliency and implementation risk.

Commissioners assured attendees that the unfavorable initial round of cost-benefit ratio scores is just the first step in the process and that none of the projects have been summarily denied.

Armando Quintero, Chair of the eight-member body, pushed back on the notion that the CWC is being stingy with bond funding.  He says the 70-member review staff in most cases needed more information about the projects and that applicants can appeal the initial scores.  He also noted that the staff has met with and provided guidance to project applicants to clarify the need for additional data to achieve the “public benefit” scores required for approval.  A final decision is expected in July.

Further complicating the conversation for the CWC was the Monday’s announcement by federal regulators that contractors will only receive 20 percent of their initial water allocation because of the state’s dismal snowpack.

Rural Infrastructure Package Update

Last week the White House released the Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure, President Trump’s much-anticipated infrastructure proposal.  The proposal creates a Rural Infrastructure Program with $50 billion of federal investment for surface transportation, waterways, and broadband deployment to empower rural communities.  

The White House issued two press releases this week which breakdown the Rural Infrastructure Program and the White House’s approach to rural broadband.  Federal funds from the Rural Infrastructure Program will be available for a wide array of project classes including:

  • Transportation Broadband deployment
  • Water and wastewater
  • Power and electric

The White House is pitching the Rural Infrastructure Program for its “light touch” of federal oversight which will grant state governors broad discretion over where the money is spent and for what sort of projects.  The funds provided under President Trump’s proposal will go directly to the governors’ offices without asset-specific amounts or regulatory requirements on how the money is spent.

The Legislative Outline was criticized when first released because it did not include dedicated funding for rural broadband deployment.  Rural broadband is a top priority for rural infrastructure, but this week’s White House press release confirms the President’s infrastructure package will not dedicate funding, or direct Governors to use funds, for broadband deployment projects.


Jennifer Moffitt, 37, of Davis, has been appointed undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, where she has served as deputy secretary since 2015. Moffitt was managing director at Dixon Ridge Farms from 2005 to 2015. She was an education, outreach and research specialist at the American Farmland Trust from 2004 to 2005, where she was a land projects coordinator from 2002 to 2004. Moffitt is a member of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $170,328. Moffitt is a Democrat.

Sandra Matsumoto, 43, of Davis, has been appointed to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy. Matsumoto has been associate director for the California Water Program at the Nature Conservancy since 2015, where she was project director from 2004 to 2015. She was project manager at the Los Angeles Community Design Center from 2003 to 2004 and a project analyst at Mintz Levin from 1997 to 1999. She is a member of the Groundwater Resources Association. Matsumoto earned a Master of Business Administration degree in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Matsumoto is a Democrat.

John Brissenden, 69, of Hope Valley, has been appointed to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, where he served from 2005 to 2017. Brissenden has been owner and manager at Sorensen’s Resort since 1980. He was a member of the Alpine County Board of Supervisors from 1989 to 1993 and the Live Oak School District Board from 1978 to 1983. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Brissenden is a Democrat.

Christine M. Ciccotti, 36, of Davis, has been appointed deputy director, chief counsel at the California Department of State Hospitals. Ciccotti has served as a deputy attorney general in the Correctional Law Section at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General since 2014. She was a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Contract Management Agency from 2012 to 2013 and an assistant general counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons from 2009 to 2012. Ciccotti served in several positions for the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps at Nellis Air Force Base and Travis Air Force Base from 2006 to 2009, including trial counsel, chief of contract law, chief of civil law, chief of adverse actions and chief of claims. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $177,900. Ciccotti is a Democrat.


USDA Launches Webpage Highlighting Resources to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis

Click here

Water Education Foundation Hosts 2018 Central Valley Tour

Click here

Report Released on Examining the Local Land Use Entitlement Process in California to Inform Policy and Process

This week, researchers at the University of California, Berkley, and Columbia University released a report titled “Getting it Right: Examining the Local Land Use Entitlement Process in California to Inform Policy and Process.”  The report examined data collected on all residual development projects (of more than five units) over a three-year period in five Bay Area cities (San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Redwood City, and Palo Alto).  The report found that even if housing developments complied with the underlying zoning code, additional scrutiny from the local government were carried out before obtaining a building permit, thus slowing down housing production. 

The report can be accessed here.  An article by the Los Angeles Times titled “Blame California’s Cities and Counties for Housing Delays, Not State Environmental Law, New Study Says” can be accessed here.


Assembly Bill 924 (Bonta): Indian Tribes: Commercial Cannabis Activity.  Assembly Bill 924 would authorize the Governor to enter into agreements concerning cannabis activities on lands of federally-recognized sovereign Indian tribes. Status: AB 924 awaits consideration in the Senate Business, Professions & Economic Development Committee.  RCRC Position: Oppose

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 1667 (Friedman): Agricultural Water Management. Assembly Bill 1667 would make permanent agricultural water conservation criteria established as part of the Governor’s response to the drought. Status: AB 1667 awaits consideration in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. RCRC Status: Oppose

Assembly Bill 1772 (Aguiar-Curry): Fire Insurance Indemnity. Assembly Bill 1772 would extend the minimum limit during which an insured may collect the full replacement cost of a loss relating to a state of emergency to 36 months. Status:  AB 1722 awaits consideration in the Assembly Insurance Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1875 (Wood): Residential Property Insurance.  Assembly Bill 1875 would require an insurer to offer extended replacement cost coverage when issuing or renewing a policy of residential property insurance, and requires the insurer to disclose the premium costs for extended replacement cost coverage. Status: AB 1875 awaits consideration in the Assembly Insurance Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1886 (Carrillo): Payment of Expenses.  Assembly Bill 1886 would require the State to pay for the cost of special elections - proclaimed by the Governor - to fill a vacancy in the office of a member of the State Assembly, State Senate, or the U.S. Congress that has occurred after January 1, 2017. Status: AB 1886 awaits consideration in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2050 (Caballero): Small System Water Authority Act of 2018.  Assembly Bill 2050 would create the Small System Water Authority Act of 2018 and state 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. Defines various terms and requires a change in organization to be carried out as set forth in the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000. Status: AB 2050 currently awaits action on the Assembly Floor.  RCRC Position: Watch

Assembly Bill 2166 (Caballero): California Farm Bill: agricultural technology. Assembly Bill 2166 would require the Department of Food and Agriculture to create a user-friendly navigational link on its Internet Web site that provides farmers and other members of the agricultural industry comprehensive information about regulatory requirements of, and guidance to, operating and

Assembly Bill 2966 (Aguiar-Curry): Disaster Relief. Assembly Bill 2966 would provide that the state share for the removal of dead and dying trees in connection with the Governor’s proclamation of a state emergency issued on a specific date is no more than 90 percent of total state eligible costs. Status: AB 2966 currently 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 824 (Lara): Insurance: Nonrenewal.  Senate Bill 824 would express the intent of the Legislature to clarify that the provisions described concerning cancellation of structural insurance policies is applicable to all insured properties located within a county for which a state of emergency has been declared. SB 824 prohibits nonrenewal of the policies under specified circumstances. Status: SB 824 awaits consideration in the Senate Insurance, Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 930 (Hertzberg): Financial Institutions: Cannabis Senate Bill 930 would state the intent of the Legislature to establish a state-chartered bank that would allow a person licensed to engage in commercial cannabis activity to engage in licensed banking activities in California. Status: SB 930 awaits consideration in the Senate Rules Committee. RCRC Position: Support In Concept

Senate Bill 998 (Dodd): Water Shutoffs: Urban and Community Water Systems. Senate Bill 998 would require an urban and community water system as a public water system that supplies water to more than 200 service connections, to have a written policy on residential service shutoff available in specified languages of the people residing in its service area. Requires certain aspect to be available on its system web site and be provided annually to customers in writing. Status: Senate Bill 998 awaits action on the Senate Floor. RCRC Position: Watch