The Barbed Wire - June 14, 2019

June 14, 2019
Registration Now Open for RCRC’s 2019 Annual Meeting in El Dorado County!!!
California Legislature Approves 2019-20 State Budget
Cannabis Banking Update
Forest Service Proposes Rule to Overhaul NEPA Environmental Rule Process
Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 209 (Dodd) – Fire-Weather Monitoring

Registration Now Open for RCRC’s 2019 Annual Meeting in El Dorado County!!!

Registration is now open for RCRC’s 2019 Annual Meeting!  This year’s conference will be held September 25-27 at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel in El Dorado County.  This year’s program will feature experts discussing a wide range of topics on critical issues shaping California’s future.  Register today to receive the “Early Bird” rate!  Read More…

California Legislature Approves 2019-20 State Budget

On Thursday, the California Legislature approved the 2019-20 State Budget (Assembly Bill 74), which includes the bulk of the appropriations for the coming fiscal year.  It should be noted that as it stands, the State Budget Package is incomplete – there are nearly two dozen budget trailer bills on a variety of subjects that have yet to be finalized and considered by the Legislature.  These items of importance to RCRC include, but are not limited to, housing, homelessness, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), and safe and affordable drinking water. 

It is expected that further State Budget items will be adopted in the coming days to complete the entire State Budget Package for the 2019-20 Fiscal Year. 

Key Issues/Changes for RCRC Member Counties

The 2019-20 State Budget as approved today:

  • Continues to provide $644,000 for the State’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program for 2019-20;
  • Provides an additional $87.2 million to assist counties in replacing antiquated voting systems;
  • Provides more than $1.3 billion in Cap-and-Trade revenues for various greenhouse gas reduction programs, including $200 million for forest health and wildfire prevention projects pursuant to 2018’s Senate Bill 901 (Dodd) and $25 million for organics diversion programs;
  • Provides $100 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and $30 million from the General Fund to establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water program.  In addition, $3.4 million to the State Water Resources Control Board from the General Fund for administrative start-up costs.  The framework of the fund will be established in a yet-to-be-determined trailer bill;
  • Includes more than $300 million for disaster preparedness, response and recovery activities, including local assistance funds for recovery from the Camp Fire and other 2018 and 2017 wildfires, enhanced emergency response support for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), and funding for prepositioning of state and local government resources that are part of the statewide mutual aid system;
  • Includes an additional $70.3 million to offset IHSS Maintenance of Effort costs based on revised caseload projections and restoration of service hours;
  • Provides $75 million to CalOES for state and local preparation and response related to Public Safety Power Shutdown actions initiated to reduce the risk of utility-initiated wildfires during severe weather.  Funding will likely support installing back-up power at CAL FIRE and CalOES facilities, local planning and training, and establishing community centers with backup power and air conditioning;
  • Includes $650 million in one-time funding to assist local governments in addressing homelessness, though detailed funding allocation methodology is not specified; and,
  • Includes a $750 million one-time appropriation to the California Department of Housing and Community Development to assist local governments with meeting Regional Housing Need Assessment goals. Specific allocation methodology will be outlined in a yet-to-be determined trailer bill.

It is likely that over the next 4 or 5 days, further portions of the State Budget Package will be adopted.  The State Constitution requires a spending plan be in place by July 1st.

Cannabis Banking Update

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Financial Services appropriations bill for Fiscal 2020 that contains language from the SAFE Banking Act (SAFE Act) to allow the banking industry to service marijuana related businesses.  The provision survived an attempt by several Republicans to pass an amendment that would strip the bill of its SAFE Act language. 

Congressmen Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Hal Rogers (R-Alabama), and John Carter (R-Texas) were among the members who rose in opposition and argued the bill would further complicate the marijuana regulatory framework and fail to bring certainty to businesses.  The Republicans pointed out the banking system is inextricably linked from interstate commerce that falls under jurisdiction of federal law.  While the majority of states have legalized marijuana in various capacities, the drug remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substance Act.  Therefore, Republicans argue cannabis banking would remain legally ambiguous, even with passage of the SAFE Act.

Despite this short-term victory for advocates of the SAFE Act, the bill is struggling to make headway in the Senate.  Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) was noted last week for his comment that marijuana should be decriminalized under federal law before granting special exemptions for the banking industry.  It appears Republicans are not eager to pass legislation on behalf of the cannabis industry and Minority Leader Schumer is not supportive of the approach laid out in the SAFE Act either. The bill is unlikely to surmount bipartisan opposition in the upper chamber.

Forest Service Proposes Rule to Overhaul NEPA Environmental Rule Process

On Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Services (USFS) proposed a rule change that would overhaul the environmental review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The proposed rule would create an entire suite of new projects eligible for categorical exclusions that allow public lands projects to proceed under expedited conditions.  Under the new rule, categorical exclusions could be applied to commercial logging activities on up to 7,300 acres if it is determined there are additional restoration benefits to forest health. 

NEPA reform is a policy priority for the Trump Administration and USFS argues the proposed changes would provide the agency with more tools and flexibility to improve forest health and prevent wildfires.  Environmental groups have already risen in opposition to the rule over claims that it would gut critical environmental protections.  After the rule was proposed, the agency will now undergo a 60-day public comment period to receive feedback from the public on the proposal.  The USFS is expected to face strong opposition from environmental groups throughout the rulemaking process. After the rule is implemented it is then expected to face an immediate legal challenge in court.

Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 209 (Dodd) – Fire-Weather Monitoring

RCRC has voiced its continued support for Senate Bill 209, authored by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa).  SB 209 establishes a centralized state wildfire warning center to monitor fire-weather and threat conditions statewide and oversee deployment of a network of automated weather stations in areas not covered by an electrical corporation or local publicly owned electric utility’s weather network. 

The center would also coordinate with electrical corporations and local publicly owned electrical utilities to determine where to deploy weather monitoring stations in high fire threat areas.

RCRC believes that increasing the amount and improving the quality of information on weather conditions will help guide decisions on how to manage fire threats, better preposition scarce resources, and coordinate responses to active fire events.  RCRC also believes that more information on weather conditions will enable publicly owned electrical utilities to better tailor de-energization events to avoid unnecessary service disruptions.

RCRC’s letter can be accessed here.  SB 209 currently awaits action in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.  Please contact John Kennedy, RCRC Legislative Advocate, at (916) 447-4806 or for more information.


The Rural Rundown discusses the legislative and regulatory issues impacting California’s rural counties, featuring commentary and interviews from individuals committed to improving the quality of life in rural California. 

The Rural Rundown can be accessed here




Assembly Bill 41 (Gallagher): Disaster Relief: Camp Fire. Assembly Bill 41 provides that the State share for disaster relief is born by the State as it relates to the Camp Fire that started in November 2018 in Butte County. Status: AB 41 awaits action in the Senate. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 247 (Dahle): Disaster Relief: Carr and Klamathon Fires. Assembly Bill 247 provides that the state share for disaster project allocations to local agencies is up to 100% of total state eligible costs connected with the Klamathon fire that started on July 5, 2018, in the County of Siskiyou, and the Carr Fire that started on July 23, 2018, in the County of Shasta. Status:  AB 247 awaits action in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support

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

Assembly Bill 1080 (Gonzalez)/Senate Bill 54 (Allen): Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction. AB 1080/SB 54 requires manufacturers and retailers to reduce the waste associated with single use packaging and products 75 percent by 2030, requires the state to set standards for what is considered recyclable and compostable, and promotes the development of in-state manufacturing that uses recycled materials. Status: AB 1080/SB 54 both passed their respective houses and await further action in the Senate Environmental. Quality and Assembly Natural Resources Committees, respectively.   RCRC Status: Support

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

Assembly Bill 1144 (Friedman): Self-Generation Incentive Program. Assembly Bill 1144 requires the California Public Utilities Commission to establish pilot projects to install energy storage systems to back up critical infrastructure in high-fire threat districts.  Status: AB 1144 67 awaits consideration in the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1160 (Dahle): Forestry: Timber Operations: Sustained Yield Plans.  Assembly Bill 1160 would extend the effective period of a sustained yield plan from 10 years to 20 years.  Status: AB 1160 awaits consideration in the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1356 (Ting): Cannabis: Local Jurisdictions: Commercial Cannabis. Assembly Bill 1356 provides that if more than 50 percent of the voters of a local jurisdiction voted in favor of Proposition 64, these local jurisdictions must issue a minimum number of licenses authorizing retail cannabis activity within that jurisdiction. Status: AB 1356 awaits action in the Assembly (Inactive File). RCRC Status: Oppose

Assembly Bill 1486 (Ting): Local Agencies: Surplus Land. Assembly Bill 1486 adds more specificity to the types of agencies subject to the Surplus Land Act, by adding sewer, water, utility, and local and regional park districts, joint powers authorities, successor agencies to former redevelopment agencies, housing authorities, and other political subdivisions of this state to the list of agencies that are mandated to follow certain requirements before disposing of surplus land.  AB 1486 also redefines and substantially broadens the term “dispose of” to include the sale, transfer, or other conveyance of any interest in real property.  Status: AB 1486 awaits action in the Senate Governance & Finance Committee. RCRC Status: Oppose Unless Amended

Assembly Bill 1516 (Friedman): Fire Prevention: Defensible Space Fuel Reduction. Assembly Bill 1516 would make various changes to improve California’s fire prevention policies including its defensible space requirements. Status: AB 1516 awaits action in the Senate (Third Reading).  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1810 (Assembly Transportation Committee): Transportation/Cattle Guards. Assembly Bill 1810 allows proceeds derived from a state motor fuel taxes to be spent, at the discretion of a county Board of Supervisors, on the maintenance of cattle guards on the public right-of-way.  Status: AB 1810 awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 66 (Aguiar-Curry): Officer Natalie Corona Memorial Highway. ACR 66 would designate a portion of Interstate 5 in the County of Colusa as the “Officer Natalie Corona Memorial Highway.” Status: ACR 66 recently secured passage in the Senate Transportation Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 73 (Bigelow): California Fairgrounds Appreciation Month. ACR 73 would designate May 2019 as the California Fairgrounds Appreciation Month. Status: ACR 73 Chaptered by Secretary of State RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 62 (Dodd): Endangered Species: Accidental Take. Senate Bill 62 extends the sunset date on a provision allowing an “accidental take” of candidate, threatened, or endangered species resulting from acts that occur on a farm or a ranch in the course of otherwise lawful routine work. It also repeals the sunset on the California Endangered species Act’s Safe Harbor Agreement Program. Status: SB 62 awaits consideration in the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee. RCRC Status: Support

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

Senate Bill 190 (Dodd): Fire Safety: Building Standards. Senate Bill 190 creates a model defensible space program for local governments and requires the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) to provide training resources for local building officials, builders, and fire service personnel to improve building fire safety standards. Status: SB 190 awaits action in the Assembly Organization & Natural Resources Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 200 (Monning): Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Senate Bill 200 establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in the State Treasury and provides that moneys in the fund are available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to the State Water Resources Control Board to provide a stable source of funding to secure access to safe drinking water for all Californians, while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of drinking water service and infrastructure. Status: SB 200 awaits action in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Material Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 209 (Dodd): California Wildfire Warning Center: Weather Monitoring. Senate Bill 209 establishes the California Wildfire Warning Center, a statewide network of automated weather and environmental monitoring stations to conduct fire weather forecasting and threat assessment to aid in wildfire prevention and response.  Status: SB 209 awaits action in the Assembly Governmental Organization. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 253 (Dodd): California Agricultural Conservation Program. Senate Bill 253 requires the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming under the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, to assist government agencies to incorporate the conservation of natural resources and ecosystem services practices into agricultural programs. Requires the Department of Food and Agriculture with advice from the panel, to establish and administer the California Agricultural Conservation Program subject to an appropriation by the Legislature. Status:  SB 253 was placed in Suspend Assembly Rule 96 in the Assembly Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 462 (Stern): Community Colleges: Forestland Restoration Workforce. Senate Bill 462 would require the Chancellor's Office of the California Community Colleges, working in collaboration with the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, to establish a model curriculum for a forestland restoration workforce program that could be offered at campuses of the California Community Colleges. Status: SB 462 awaits action in the Assembly Higher Education & Natural Resources Committee. RCRC Position: Support