The Barbed Wire - July 31, 2020

July 31, 2020
Senate Republican Leadership Unveils the HEALS Act
Bill of the Week: SB 1348 (Stern) - Fire Prevention: Defensible Space, Vegetation Management, and Fire Hazard Severity Zones
Coming Soon…Episode 2 of RCRC’s Hometown California Podcast
Rural Broadband Deployment
Governor Newsom Releases Final Water Resilience Portfolio
Water Resources Development Act
RCRC Providing Financial Assistance for Wildfire Recovery Efforts in the Town of Paradise
Federal Enforcement of Marijuana Laws

Senate Republican Leadership Unveils the HEALS Act

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, a counter proposal to the House Democrats’ previously-released HEROES Act, that will serve as the first step in negotiations in the next coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package. The HEALS Act does not allocate additional state and local aid beyond what was already allocated under the CARES Act’s $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund. Nevertheless, the Republican proposal provides some flexibility for previously allocated CARES Act dollars. This flexibility would allow for CARES Act money to be spent past the original December 30, 2020 deadline and expand allowable uses of relief payments to include lost revenue. However, only 25 percent of these funds could be used towards revenue shortfalls.

As of Thursday, the White House and Republicans were “very far apart” from Democrats in negotiations over the final package. The current dialogue is focused on a short-term extension of enhanced unemployment benefits and extending the federal moratorium on evictions before they expire at the end of the week. Several Republicans are also signaling support to a smaller bill. Meanwhile, Senate GOP lawmakers remain divided over the price tag of the HEALS Act. Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana) said he was “unlikely” to support the final agreement, adding, “I think the price tag is going to be a deal breaker for many of us regardless of the content.” It remains unclear whether a compromise package can be reached and enacted prior to the slated Summer Recess whereby both houses of Congress are to adjourn for the month of August.

On Thursday, RCRC sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) urging the inclusion of direct funding for local governments in any final relief package. The letter stated in part, “…like our counterparts in more urbanized areas, small, low-population counties remain on the front lines in responding to this deadly and costly pandemic. We appreciate the inclusion of provisions to support counties in a variety of proposals including the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800), the State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act (S. 3752), and the Coronavirus Community Relief Act (S. 3623), and urge the inclusion aspects of these provisions in any final relief package.”

Additional HEALS Act Resources:

Bill of the Week: SB 1348 (Stern) - Fire Prevention: Defensible Space, Vegetation Management, and Fire Hazard Severity Zones

After registering opposition last week to Senate Bill 1348 – as proposed to be amended and authored by Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), RCRC has changed to having “no position”. SB 1348, which relates to defensible space, vegetation management, and fire hazard severity zones, has been further amended to address RCRC’s primary concerns.

RCRC’s position on SB 1348 has evolved throughout its movement through the legislative process. Originally RCRC was in “support” of SB 1348 when first introduced, the legislation would provide a boost to community wildfire prevention efforts by allowing CAL FIRE grants to fund local vegetation management program and public outrace efforts on wildfire prevention measures. RCRC later withdrew its support for the bill when amendments made in May extended fire-safe construction requirements to local responsibility area (LRA) lands and established defensible space requirements for unimproved parcels, which could have had significant impacts on land use planning and development for which RCRC’s counties shoulder the responsibility.

This month, additional amendments were added to SB 1348 that would have jeopardized the California Vegetation Treatment Program, a program adopted by the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection last year after months of public input and stakeholder involvement to bolster the state’s wildfire prevention and vegetation management efforts. Those provisions, which resulted in RCRC opposing the legislation, were removed in amendments on July 29, along with the fire-safe construction requirements and some of the more problematic defensible space requirements for unimproved parcels, due to RCRC’s advocacy on the bill.

Read RCRC's latest letter here.

Coming Soon…Episode 2 of RCRC’s Hometown California Podcast

The new podcast series, Hometown California, engaged listeners from around the globe last week with the release of the first episode, an interview with RCRC Chair, Daron McDaniel (Merced County). The second episode, currently in production, is coming early next week. Be sure to listen in to hear about the role of the trucking industry in rural California, and how the industry has been responding to the pandemic.

Hometown California tells the rural story through the eyes of those who live, work, and play in the rural communities of California. Find Hometown California in your favorite podcast app and subscribe today.

Rural Broadband Deployment

Last week, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) introduced legislation to immediately fund broadband deployment in unserved and rural areas. The Developing Economic Prosperity and Linking Our Youth through (DEPLOY) Broadband Act would appropriate $6.5 billion to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for broadband build-out in unserved areas. It also permanently establishes a minimum 10 percent rural dividend for future spectrum auctions and ensures that funding cannot be combined with any other funds at the FCC. To date, it is uncertain whether this bill (or it provisions) will move forward in the remaining months of the 116th Congress.

Governor Newsom Releases Final Water Resilience Portfolio

Earlier this week, Governor Gavin Newsom released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, a collaborative effort between the California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Food and Agriculture, designed to serve as the Administration’s blueprint to move California forward in ensuring the state’s long-term water resilience and ecosystem health.

The effort began in April 2019 when Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-10-19 calling for a portfolio of actions to address California’s many water challenges. Among those challenges are droughts, floods, extreme weather swings, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater, vulnerable infrastructure, and others. To develop the comprehensive portfolio required by the executive order, the state agencies conducted an inventory and assessment of key aspects of California water, soliciting broad input from tribes, agencies, individuals, groups, and leaders across the state. An interagency working group considered the assessment and input from more than 20 public listening sessions across the state and more than 100 substantive comment letters.

RCRC was involved early in the portfolio development process, providing comments ahead of the initial draft release of the Water Resilience Portfolio, along with its partners in the California Forest Watershed Alliance (CAFWA). Following the draft release in January 2020, RCRC was among the over 200 individuals and organizations that helped to inform revisions, including greater emphasis to upper watershed health and cross-border water issues. RCRC’s comments on the draft release can be viewed here.

Along with the issuance of the final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, the state agencies identified ten key priorities to ensure safe and resilient water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy, and environment.

  1. Implementing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act of 2019.
  2. Supporting local communities to successfully implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014.
  3. Achieving voluntary agreements to increase flows and improve conditions for native fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watersheds.
  4. Modernizing the Delta water conveyance system to protect long-term functionality of the State Water Project.
  5. Updating regulations to expand water recycling.
  6. Accelerating permitting of new smart water storage.
  7. Expanding seasonal floodplains for fish and flood benefits.
  8. Improving conditions at the Salton Sea.
  9. Removing dams from the Klamath River.
  10. Better leveraging of information and data to improve water management.

Additional information about the Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative is available here.

Water Resources Development Act

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 (H.R. 7575) by voice vote under a procedural set of rules that disallowed most amendments. Ahead of the vote, the Congressional Budget Office released a report calculating that the measure would cost the federal government $673 million in the first decade. However, the measure only authorizes projects, meaning each project would still need to win a share of the Army Corps of Engineers’ modest $6 billion in annual appropriations to actually break ground. While lawmakers have said they are committed to completing WRDA bills every other year, some anticipate that if Democrats sweep the November elections they may look to wrap the measure into a major infrastructure stimulus package next year.

RCRC Providing Financial Assistance for Wildfire Recovery Efforts in the Town of Paradise

Over the past few years, RCRC and its affiliate, Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA), have contributed $3.5 million in financial support to California’s rural counties and residents that have been impacted by devastating wildfires. These funds have been used in a variety of ways to assist those who have either lost their primary residence for an extended period of time or have otherwise experienced financial loss that impaired their ability to maintain housing in declared disaster areas. Counties recently impacted by devastating fires include Butte (where the Town of Paradise is located), Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Shasta, Yuba, and Lake Counties.

This week, GSFA received a progress report from the Town of Paradise that detailed how they have used their RCRC-provided grant funds to date. Nearly 150 families in the town have been assisted in having their home building permit fees reduced. The letter can be accessed here.

Federal Enforcement of Marijuana Laws

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee voted to add an amendment into the appropriations four-bill minibus (a modest set of bills that fund certain federal government agencies and activities) that would prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds to prevent states, territories and Native American tribes from implementing their recreational marijuana laws. The amendment was proposed by Representative Tom McClintock (R-Placer) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). The House is expected to vote on this appropriations package on Friday.


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

GO-Biz Hosting Webinars for Businesses Interested in Applying for $80 Million in Tax Credits

The California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) application period is now open, with $80 million in available tax credits. Businesses interested in applying can register to view a live webinar explaining the application process.

The deadline to submit applications is Monday, August 17, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) and the online application website will automatically close once this deadline has passed. The online application can be accessed now, at

Upcoming Webinars

August 6, 2020
Details and Registration

August 11, 2020
Details and Registration

Members of the CCTC team are available to provide technical application assistance ( / 916-322-4051). An application guide, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), program regulations, and a downloadable version of the webinar presentation are available here.


Department of Conservation SGMA Watershed Coordinator Grant Program Workshops Announced

The Department of Conservation will host two workshops to answer potential applicants’ questions about the SGMA Watershed Coordinator Program application. Both workshops are open to all interested applicants and will cover the same content. Please RSVP to to register.

  • Application Workshop – August 6, 2020
    When: 2:30 – 3:30pm
    Where: Microsoft Teams (please RSVP for link)
  • Application Workshop – August 11, 2020
    When: 1:00 – 2:00pm
    Where: Microsoft Teams (please RSVP for link)

Information about the program can be found hereApplications are due by 11:59 p.m. on September 15, 2020. A solicitation and application has been posted here.

Please contact Department of Conservation watershed program staff with questions or comments via email at or phone at (916) 324-0850.


State Water Board Now Accepting SAFER Advisory Group Applications

The State Water Board is now accepting applications for the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group, which provides the State Water Board with advice on the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Expenditure Plan and other SAFER-related policies. Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2020.

There are 10 seats open for the 2020 application period. Applicants will be selected and notified by Winter 2020. County resource staff and other interested parties are encouraged to apply. The electronic application form is available on the SAFER Advisory Group website here.

The SAFER Advisory Group website will be updated with tools and resources regularly, so keep checking the website for more information.


Upcoming Webinar: Improving Roadside Re-vegetation and Stormwater Quality with Compost-Based BMPs

The Caltrans Landscape Architecture Program, in partnership with CalRecycle, University of California Riverside, University of Washington, Filtrexx Sustainable Technologies, Salix Applied Earthcare, United States Composting Council, California Compost Coalition, and R. Alexander Associates, Inc., is presenting two half-day workshops that focus on the use of compost-based best management practices (BMPs) to improve roadside re-vegetation, control erosion, filter stormwater, reduce runoff, and improve stormwater quality.

In addition to rolling out innovative methods of improving water quality, these workshops will provide attendees with the opportunity to ask questions of a diverse team of experts. The workshop team consists of University professionals, researchers, soil scientists, California compost industry professionals, Caltrans landscape architects, and other subject matter experts.

While this webinar is targeted towards Caltrans engineers and landscape staff, it will provide some insight towards this potentially growing market. Additional information about the webinar is available here. Register here.


HCD Announces the Release of the Homekey Notice of Funding Availability

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has announced the release of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $600 million in Homekey funds. The grant funding is available to cities, counties , or other local public entities within California to purchase and rehabilitate housing, as well as hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other buildings and convert them into interim or permanent, long-term housing. Prior to submitting an application, all applicants are required to engage in a pre-application consultation. Priority Applications are due by August 13, 2020 and all applications are due by September 29, 2020. Attend the Homekey Webinar on July 24, 2020 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (register now) or visit the Homekey webpage to learn more.


Career Opportunities

  • Tehama County Seeks Director of Public Works

Tehama County is inviting applications for the position of Director of Public Works. The application deadline has been extended to August 17, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. To apply or for more information, details are available as a PDF or online here

  • Colusa County Seeks Assistant Director of Public Works/Road Commissioner

The county of Colusa is accepting applications for the position of Assistant Director of Public Work/Road Commissioner. The position is open until filled. Details are available here.

  • SRTA Seeks Chief Fiscal Officer

Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA) is seeking a Chief Fiscal Officer. Position details are available here. The position is open until filled. See the SRTA website for updates and submission information.


Amendment to the Federal 2019-20 Community Development Block Grant

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has released an amendment to the federal 2019-20 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The NOFA applies to state CDBG non-entitlement cities and counties applying for funding under Community Development activities, Special Allocations for Economic Development, Colonia, and Native American Communities.

This amendment only affects the Economic Development (ED) set-aside and:

  • Removes the competitive process, allowing all applications, both program and project, to be reviewed and approved on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Extends the ED program application deadline to September 15, 2020.
  • Makes other changes to program activity limits and requirements for proof of capacity, while providing more local flexibility in ED program design and implementation.

You can access the 2019-2020 CDBG NOFA amendment and links to the online application here.


PG&E Weekly Public Webinars on Wildfire Safety and PSPS Mitigation Efforts

PG&E is holding weekly public webinars at which it will provide information on local Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) and wildfire safety efforts, including how it will make PSPS events smaller in size and shorter in duration, efforts to install new grid technology and harden electrical infrastructure, and enhanced vegetation management activities.

Webinars will take place on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Webinars have taken place for many counties. The remaining webinars are scheduled as follows:

  • August 5 – Tulare, Madera, and Fresno Counties  (join webinar here)
  • August 12 – All-Customer Webinar (join webinar here)
  • August 19 – All-Customer Webinar (join webinar here)

See a full schedule, find information to join a webinar by phone, or view past presentations here.


COVID-Related Extensions Possible on CDBG Annual Performance Reports

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announced that the State Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) for non-entitlement jurisdictions requires all CDBG Recipients to submit Annual Performance Reports (APRs) documenting any activity that occurred during fiscal year 2019/2020. The reporting period covers July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. APR documents must be completed and submitted via email to by Friday, July 31, 2020. If the deadline can’t be met due to circumstances caused by COVID-19, please email Francisco Arnaiz outlining the reasons for requesting an extension and the date you expect to submit the report. Additional details are available in the HCD announcement here.


RCRC Annual Meeting in Napa County Cancelled

The RCRC Annual Meeting 2020 has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, the RCRC September Board of Directors Meeting will take place on September 16, 2020 via Zoom.

The Annaul Meeting was scheduled to occur in Napa County this September. Planning is underway to hold a future Annual Meeting in Napa – most likely in 2022 – in order to enjoy the beauty of the County as well as contribute to its economic recovery. More information on the return to Napa will be forthcoming after consideration and action by the RCRC Board of Directors.


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.