The Barbed Wire - July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021
RCRC Fifth Annual Rural County Photo Contest Going On Now
Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 680 (Burke) - Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: California Jobs Plan Act of 2021
Wildfire and Forest Resilience Expenditure Package
USDA Taps Top California Forest Official to Helm U.S. Forest Service
Surface Transportation Reauthorization Update
Highway Formula Modernization Act
Catch Up on Hometown California – New Episode Coming Soon!

RCRC Fifth Annual Rural County Photo Contest Going On Now

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) is holding its Fifth Annual Rural County Photo Contest from July 1 through July 31, 2021. The contest invites amateur photographers to capture life in rural California by showcasing the beautiful scenery, activities, communities, history, and charm of RCRC’s 37 member counties.

Photo entries should be sent to All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on July 31, 2021 and must include:

  • Location where the photo was taken, including the county in which it was taken; and
  • Photographer’s full name and email address.

The grand prize winner will receive a $50 gift card, and the winning image will be displayed during RCRC's Annual Meeting taking place September 29 - October 1, 2021 in Monterey County. Contest details, a printable flyer, and official rules are available here.

Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 680 (Burke) - Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: California Jobs Plan Act of 2021

RCRC has expressed opposition for Assembly Bill 680, authored by Assembly Member Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), which would enact the California Jobs Plan Act of 2021 and update guidelines for projects funded by the Greenhouse Gas reduction Fund (GGRF).
AB 680 would update the funding guidelines for the GGRF by July 1, 2023, including requiring prevailing wage for construction projects funded in full or part by GGRF grants.  AB 680 would also require entities receiving grants of $1 million or more for construction projects to provide evidence of a project labor agreement, and would give preference to applicants that demonstrate a partnership with an educational institution or training program targeting residents of disadvantaged, tribal, and low-income communities in the same region as the proposed project. Should the measure pass, AB 680 could have profound impacts on the ability for rural local governments to complete community wildfire prevention and forest resilience projects funded by GGRF programs due to the ambiguous definition of “construction” and the preferential treatment for regions with already-established workforce development programs. 

AB 680 passed the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee on June 28, 2021 and will next be heard Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. RCRC’s letter of opposition is available here. For more information, contact Staci Heaton, RCRC Senior Regulatory Affairs Advocate by email or John Kennedy, RCRC Legislative Advocate by email, or call (916) 447-4806.

Wildfire and Forest Resilience Expenditure Package

On Monday, The Legislature reduced the original $1 billion allocated to the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Expenditure Package on June 15th in the 2021-22 State Budget to $458 million, a move which came as a surprise to many stakeholders. Since the details of the allocations are still being negotiated, it is unclear which programs will receive funding other than $146 million earmarked for fire prevention crews at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the California Conservation Corps (CCC) and roughly $75 million in Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) dollars for prescribed fire and other programs at CAL FIRE. The Legislature’s original $1 billion plan included funding for programs such as the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program at the Department of Conservation and the Watershed Improvement Program at the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, along with local grant funds for community fire prevention projects. The Legislature proposed $500 million in forest health funds for the 2022-23 State Budget; however, those funds cannot be allocated for future budget years on a one-time basis making the future of the proposal subject to next year’s State Budget process. 
The Legislature and Administration have received considerable backlash for the cut, and the Administration has since proposed making the remaining $500 million available for wildfire prevention projects on an “as needed” basis. The proposal also would extend the $200 million annual wildfire expenditure from the GGRF pursuant to Senate Bill 901 (Dodd, 2018) through 2028. RCRC continues to advocate for wildfire prevention and forest resilience funding, including the restoration of the $500 million to the 2021-22 State Budget.

USDA Taps Top California Forest Official to Helm U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday that current USDA Forest Service (USFS) Pacific Southwest (Region 5) Regional Forester Randy Moore has been appointed to succeed USFS Chief Vicki Christensen upon her retirement on July 26, 2021. Moore will make history by becoming the first African-American to lead the USFS in its 116-year existence. Moore, who has served the Region 5 since 2007, has been with USDA since 1978 in various positions across the country and has tackled some of the most difficult national forest land issues in California during his tenure, including tree mortality and worsening impacts from climate change. 
Moore has also worked to forge more productive partnerships with California’s state and local governments. Notably, Moore worked with RCRC and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) to establish a memorandum of agreement for communication between the USFS and counties to help improve relationships between communities and officials at national forests. 
Moore is set to be sworn in on July 26 immediately upon Christensen’s retirement, and will be working in tandem with the current Chief until then during the transition. Following the announcement of Moore, Senator Dianne Feinstein released a statement praising the choice, stating “I look forward to continuing to work with Chief Moore in his new capacity on this and many other important issues.  California understands all too well the challenges facing our forests and I’m glad a Californian will head efforts to tackle them.” 

For more information, see the USDA news release here

Surface Transportation Reauthorization Update

On Thursday, the House passed the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684) — otherwise known as the House’s Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation — in a largely party-line vote of 221-201.  A precursory Rules Committee Meeting took place on Monday and Tuesday with over 250 amendments submitted and 149 amendments approved for debate on the full house floor.  The bill faced criticism from Republicans who called out specific climate provisions in the bill as well as a lack of “pay-fors.”  The $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill includes:

  • Roads, Bridges, and Safety: $343 billion
  • Transit: $109 billion
  • Passenger and Freight Rail: $95 billion
  • Drinking Water Infrastructure & Assistance: $117 billion
  • Wastewater Infrastructure: $51.25 billion 

Additionally, as part of an analysis by Bloomberg Government, Congressional districts in Democratic states are slated to get almost double the funding for surface transportation projects as compared to those in Republican states under the current bill.  In particular, California and New York are slated to receive the most money of any state.  This year’s highway reauthorization is the first such package to feature earmarks — otherwise known as member designated spending requests — in over a decade.  The inclusion of such earmarks is believed to be the cause of the “cash-per-district disparity,” which reflects the partisan and the geographic makeup of blue states, with Democrats asking for far more money and projects than their GOP counterparts.

Highway Formula Modernization Act

Last week, Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) introduced legislation that would direct the Department of Transportation to reevaluate the funding formulas used to distribute federal highway dollars. The Highway Formula Modernization Act of 2021 is the first such reevaluation of federal highway dollars in 16 years.

Catch Up on Hometown California – New Episode Coming Soon!

Looking for something to listen to during your summer travels? Catch up on past episodes of RCRC’s podcast, Hometown California right here and stay tuned for a new episode, coming soon!





The latest update on California state budget action impacting California’s rural counties.


  • Budget negotiations related to an IHSS fiscal penalty proposal continues. The Assembly Floor Report notes that the State Budget includes “trailer bill language to effectuate a seven percent penalty on counties that fail to reach a collective bargaining agreement for their IHSS workers and extends related bargaining tools.” There is no trailer bill language available with details of the penalty proposal. RCRC, along with our county partners, continue to advocate in opposition to the proposed IHSS fiscal penalty.  RCRC encourages member counties to contact their legislator to indicate their strong opposition to this proposal.
  • AB 128 (Main Budget Bill) Highlights
    • $703 million from the General Fund and $43 million from the Air Pollution Control Fund (totaling $746 million) for an agriculture package (details yet to be determined).
    • $1.93 billion from the General Fund, $1.54 billion from the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund of 2021, $7 million from the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Fund of 2014, and $3.5 million from the Safe Drinking Water Account (totaling $3.48 billion) for a water and drought resilience package (details yet to be determined).
    • $250 million from the General Fund for local parks grants.
    • $1 billion from the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund of 2021 for water arrearage debt relief.
  • Trailer Bill Highlights
    • AB 133 provisions, include but not limited to CalAIM, telehealth, Medi-Cal expansion to undocumented adults, Medi-Cal optional benefits, Medi-Cal asset test, conversion of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development into the Department of Health Care Access and Information. The extension of existing telehealth flexibilities, including video and audio visits paid at parity with in-person visits until December 31, 2022 was included in AB 133. Additionally, the bill creates an advisory group on telehealth for purposes of informing the 2022–23 proposed Governor’s Budget.
    • AB/SB 134 provides flexibilities related to MHSA and would appropriate $187 million from the Federal Trust Fund to the State Department of Health Care Services to support community mental health services.
    • AB 141 contains provisions to consolidate the three cannabis licensing agencies into a new Department of Cannabis Control and language extending the cannabis provisional license program. RCRC has significant concerns with the provisions around provisional license timelines and CEQA benchmarks. RCRC is working closely with the Administration and the Legislature to address issues we have raised in a clean-up bill. 
    • AB 143 specifies the methodology to distribute the $65 million in backfill authorized in AB 1869, a 2020-21 budget trailer bill that repealed about two dozen criminal justice administrative fees and vacated all associated debt. Pursuant to the provisions of AB 1869, the backfill will be paid to counties for five years (2021-22 through 2025-26) in recognition of revenue loss connected to elimination of fee authority. The Department of Finance is required to develop a specific county-by-county allocation schedule by October 1, 2021.
    • AB 832 extends a current statewide COVID-19 eviction moratorium for three additional months through September 30, 2021, and allows landlords of qualified low-income tenants to receive 100 percent of rent owed, funded by the $5.2 billion in federal rental relief aid.
    • SB 129 includes $6 billion total in one-time funds ($1.7 billion General Fund and $4.3 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act) for broadband infrastructure. Of the total funding appropriated, $3.75 is allocated to the California Department of Technology to create a statewide middle-mile, $250 million for a loan-loss reserve, and $2 billion for last mile infrastructure projects. Funding is contingent on the allocation details being outlined in trailer bill language before the end of legislative session. 
    • SB 152 contains provisions associated with conducting the recall election and including requirements for counties conducting regular elections before January 1, 2022, as well as consolidating previously called special elections with a gubernatorial recall election. The bill also includes intent language that the Legislature will provide additional resources if cost with the recall increase. AB 128, the main budget bill, passed this month includes $215 million to cover the cost of the recall for counties. It should be noted that update estimates from  the Department of Finance based on SB 152 increases counties cost by $28.4 million. 


Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.

Francesca Negri, of West Sacramento, has been reappointed Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, where she has served in that position since 2016. Negri was Chief at the California Department of Transportation, Division of Procurement and Contracts from 2010 to 2016. She was Chief of Human Resources at the California Department of Motor Vehicles from 2009 to 2010 and held several positions at the California Department of Transportation from 1998 to 2009, including Assistant Chief of the Division of Human Resources, Office Chief of Classification and Hiring, Branch Chief of Return to Work and the Workers’ Compensation Program, and Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $184,488. Negri is a Democrat.

Kelly X. Ranasinghe, of El Centro, has been reappointed to the Board of Behavioral Sciences, where he has served since 2020. Ranasinghe has served as a Deputy County Counsel in the Imperial County Counsel’s Office since 2020. He was Managing Partner at Henderson and Ranasinghe LLP from 2017 to 2020 and Senior Program Attorney at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges from 2014 to 2017. Ranasinghe served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Imperial County Public Defender’s Office from 2011 to 2014 and at the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office from 2008 to 2010. He is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Association of Counsel for Children. Ranasinghe earned a Juris Doctor degree in criminal justice: prosecution and defense practice from the California Western School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Ranasinghe is a Democrat.  


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

CalPERS Investment Returns & Risk Mitigation Update

On July 12, 2021, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) will be announcing its investment returns for the one-year period ended June 30, 2021.  This will occur on the first day of CalPERS Board and Executive team offsite meeting that can be watched virtually here


Forest Stewardship Workshop

The University of California Cooperative Extension is offering training opportunities to help landowners develop sustainable plans to improve and protect their forest lands.

  • Online every Wednesday, (6-7:30pm) starting August 4, 2021 through September 29, 2021, and in-person Saturday, August 28th in Tuolumne County

For more information, see here.


State Water Board Awarding O&M Grants To Disadvantaged Public Drinking Water Systems

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is soliciting letters of interest from public agencies, public water systems or nonprofit organizations to award a total of $27.5 million from uncommitted Proposition 68 funds for disadvantaged communities (DACs) treatment of contaminated groundwater. Specifically, operations and maintenance (O&M) costs are eligible for DAC water systems over a period of three to five years, including (but not limited to) permitting, monitoring and reporting, chemicals, and/or plant operator labor. Letters of interest are due to the SWRCB’s Division of Financial Assistance by July 12, 2021. For more information, see here.


Access the State Grants Portal for a Multitude of Funding Opportunities

Billions of dollars are up for grabs to public agencies and other entities, including tribes and businesses. Grant seekers can access a centralized portal of grant and loan opportunities here, or sign up to receive new grant opportunities delivered straight to your inbox. 


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


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 246 (Quirk) Contractors: disciplinary actions. Assembly Bill 246 allows the Contractors State Licensing Board to take disciplinary actions against a contractor who violates state or local laws prohibiting illegal dumping.  Status: AB 246 passed the Legislature and awaits consideration by the Governor. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 297 (Gallagher) Fire Prevention. Increases funding for forest health improvement and wildfire risk reduction projects and makes other substantive changes to help expedite project completion.  Status: AB 297 awaits consideration in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. RCRC Status: Support

 Assembly Bill 322 (Salas): Energy: Electric Program Investment Charge program: Requires the Energy Commission to consider bioenergy projects for biomass conversion when awarding funds under the Electric Program Investment Charge program. Status: AB awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support    

 Assembly Bill 332 (ESTM): Hazardous waste: treated wood waste: Reestablishes a statutory pathway for the alternative management and disposal of treated wood waste in a landfill.  Status:  AB 332 consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status:  Support

Assembly Bill 819 (Levine) California Environmental Quality Act: notices and documents: electronic filing and posting.  Requires lead agencies to post California Environmental Quality Act notices and documents on their internet websites and to submit CEQA documents to the State Clearinghouse in electronic form.  Status: AB 819 passed the Legislature and awaits consideration by the Governor. RCRC Status: Watch

Assembly Bill 843 (Aguiar-Curry): California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: renewable feed-in tariff: Allows Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) to access the CPUC BioMAT program that provides funding for renewable bioenergy electricity projects, including biomass and biogas. Status: AB 843 awaits consideration in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 881 (Gonzalez) Plastic waste: diversion: recycling: export. Repeals the ability for local governments to claim diversion credit for mixed plastic waste that is exported for recycling. Status: AB 881 awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Watch

Assembly Bill 1311 (Wood) Recycling: beverage containers: certified recycling centers. Makes modest changes to the Beverage Container Recycling Act to increase consumer access to redemption opportunities. Status: AB 1311 awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 1344 (Arambula) State Department of Public Health: Needle and Syringe Exchange Services.  Exempts needle and syringe exchanges services from the California Environmental Quality Act.  Status: AB 1344 awaits consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Neutral 

Assembly Bill 1403 (Levine) Emergency Services. Assembly Bill 1403 clarifies that deenergization events (also known as PSPS events) qualify as events for which a state of emergency can be declared by the Governor under the California Emergency Services Act, but not for a local emergency declared by a local government. Status: AB 1403 awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Assembly Bill 1454 (Bloom) Beverage Container and Litter Reduction Act.  Assembly Bill 1454 makes several changes to the Beverage Container Recycling Program, including creation of a new $25,000 startup loan for the creation of new recycling centers in unserved or underserved areas and increased payments to redemption centers with an even greater increase in rural areas.  Status: AB 1454 awaits consideration by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.  RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 37 (Cortese) California Environmental Quality Act Exemption.  Senate Bill 37 eliminates the ability to use a “common sense exemption” under the California Environmental Quality Act for any projects undertaken at over 40,000 sites throughout the state that appear on the Cortese List of currently or formerly contaminated properties.  The bill will require discretionary projects with no environmental impact at those locations (including many local corp yards, fire stations, airports, etc.) to undergo an initial assessment and prepare a negative declaration.  Status:  SB 37 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Status:  Oppose

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 local emergency can be declared under the California Emergency Services Act. Status: SB 52 awaits consideration on the Assembly Floor. 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. Status: SB 99 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 244 (Archuleta): Lithium-ion batteries: illegal disposal: fire prevention: Senate Bill 244 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 on the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 341 (McGuire) Makes several changes to increase oversight and accountability of telecommunications service outages. Status: SB 341 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support 

Senate Bill 343 (Allen) Prohibits the sale of any product or packaging using a deceptive or misleading claim about its recyclability, including using the chasing arrows symbol unless CalRecycle determines the product or packaging is recyclable.  Requires CalRecycle to identify the types of plastic products and packaging from which a claim of recyclability may be made. Status: SB 343 awaits consideration by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Watch 

Senate Bill 533 (Stern) Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans: deenergization events: microgrids. Requires utilities to discuss in their Wildfire Mitigation Plans efforts to improve their electrical systems, focused on those areas and assets that have been deenergized the greatest number of times.   Status: SB 533 awaits consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 619 (Laird) Organic waste: reduction regulations. Will seek to provide local governments with additional flexibility to achieve the state’s organic waste recycling requirements.  Status: SB 619 awaits consideration by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support