The Barbed Wire - June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020
RCRC Rural Rundown Analysis of the Revised State Budget Package
Key Public Lands Legislation Vote Delayed
Governor Issues Executive Order Extending Limitations on Beverage Container Recycling, But Declines to Extend Suspension of Plastic Bag Ban
RCRC Submits Comments to Wildfire Safety Division on Strategic Roadmap to Reduce Utility-Related Wildfire Risk
Rural Broadband
Work Visa Restrictions
RCRC Submits Comments to CDFA on Proposed Industrial Hemp Rulemaking

RCRC Rural Rundown Analysis of the Revised State Budget Package

On Friday evening, the State Assembly finalized and approved a large aspect of the 2020-21 State Budget Package. Late Thursday evening, the State Senate undertook a similar process. The actions of the Legislature enact sixteen (16) budget trailer bills that assist in implementing the 2020-21 State Budget Package, as well as revise the main Budget Bill which was passed nearly two weeks ago. With the exception of two trailer bills (dealing with education finance and higher education), likely to be adopted next week in the State Senate, the State Budget Package is nearly complete. It is expected that further revisions to the State Budget Package will be addressed in August once the State of California fully counts personal income tax receipts (the tax filing deadline was extended until July 15th). Furthermore, several issues still need to be addressed before the Legislature adjourns on August 31.

RCRC Legislative Staff has prepared a summary of the revised 2020-21 State Budget Package, with areas impacted by the revisions and accompanying trailer bills highlighted in yellow. The Rural Rundown can be accessed here.

Key Public Lands Legislation Vote Delayed

Last week, The Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) headed to the U.S. House of Representatives after securing passage in the U.S. Senate by a 73-25 vote. The bill has broad bipartisan support, and it was anticipated that the House would vote prior to the July 4 recess under a rule allowing for a vote without debate; however, critics in the House indicated they would oppose the bill if the vote was approached in this manner. Amid this opposition, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D- Maryland) has decided to present the bill for a vote later in July under a rule which allows for debate.

If enacted, The Great American Outdoors Act would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to help clear the National Parks Service’s maintenance backlog. The LWCF was permanently reauthorized in 2019, but for many years it has been severely underfunded.

Governor Issues Executive Order Extending Limitations on Beverage Container Recycling, But Declines to Extend Suspension of Plastic Bag Ban

On April 22, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-54-20, which suspended for 60 days requirements for stores in unserved convenience zones to either redeem empty beverage containers in-store or pay a $100/day fee to the state. That Executive Order also suspended for 60 days a requirement that recycling centers be open a minimum number of hours per week in order to receive handling fees for recycling beverage containers.

On June 23, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-70-20, which extends those beverage container recycling provisions for an additional 60 days.  In justifying the extension, the Governor noted that “contact exposure at retail establishments, beverage dealers, and recycling centers could spread COVID-19” and that strict compliance with the law would complicate efforts to prevent and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While these limitations may help limit the spread of COVID-19, they also come at a time when it is very difficult for many Californians – especially in rural areas - to find places where they can redeem their empty beverage containers.

Finally, Governor Newsom declined to extend a similar provision included in N-54-20 that suspended the state’s plastic bag ban for 60 days.  That provision had allowed retailers to provide single-use plastic bags to consumers, except for those jurisdictions whose pre-existing local ordinances had been grandfathered into the statewide ban.


On Monday, House Democrats from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Education and Labor Committee, Financial Services Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, Ways and Means Committee, Oversight and Reform Committee, and Natural Resources Committee Chairman came together to release the text of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act (Bill Text | Section-by-Section | Fact Sheet). The $1.5 trillion package merges several typically unrelated bills into one massive "infrastructure" package on everything from roads to education, housing, clean water, broadband and more. Included as the base of the package is the INVEST in America Act, which passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee late Thursday evening on a partisan vote.

Click here for an RCRC in-depth analysis of the Moving Forward Act.

RCRC Submits Comments to Wildfire Safety Division on Strategic Roadmap to Reduce Utility-Related Wildfire Risk

On Wednesday, RCRC submitted comments to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Wildfire Safety Division on their Draft Utility Wildfire Mitigation Strategy and Roadmap. The Wildfire Safety Division, within the CPUC, is charged with ensuring electrical utilities reduce their wildfire risk, primarily through the development and execution of Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans. In 2021, the Wildfire Safety Division will transition from the CPUC to the California Natural Resources Agency (pursuant to 2019 legislation) and, in preparation of that move, developed a strategic roadmap and vision for a sustainable California that has access to safe, affordable and reliable electricity with no catastrophic utility-caused wildfires. This roadmap was developed in consultation with many state agencies, perhaps most notably with the Forest Management Task Force which has unique insight to one of the most common causes of utility-related wildfire ignitions: contact with vegetation.

RCRC is encouraged by the Wildfire Safety Division’s foundational principle of ensuring the utility wildfire mitigation strategy have a local lens to account for differences in wildfire risk exposure in various communities and take a more strategic approach, as well as be rooted in effective collaboration between stakeholders, long-term resilience and adaptation, and make risk-informed, data-supported decisions. Utilities must deepen their collaboration with an array of state and local agencies, as well as communities, rather than overly rely on Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS) and other costly standalone programs and activities as a central wildfire mitigation tool.

To view the Wildfire Safety Division’s Draft Roadmap and Strategy, see here. Comments will be accepted through June 30, 2020.

Rural Broadband

On Wednesday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) was joined by members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force and other House Democrats to introduce the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act (H.R. 7302), another bill to boost broadband in the time of COVID-19 and beyond. The bill would put $100 billion into building high-speed broadband infrastructure in underserved as well as unserved communities and subsidize the service to make sure it was affordable. It would also put billions of dollars into broadband adoption programs. The bill is part of House Democrats' $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act.

Click here for a section by section and click here for a fact sheet.

Additionally, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) introduced his own bill that would accelerate the buildout of rural broadband infrastructure. Specifically, the measure would speed-up disbursement of government subsidies for telecom companies. The measure represents a victory for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and certain telecom industry interests that feared Senator Wicker may push to more dramatically upend the set-up for the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund October auction. Accelerating Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Act of 2020, which Senator Wicker is now leading alongside Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), would not change when the auction starts. The measure would instead create a fund that the FCC can tap to persuade winning auction bidders to conclude broadband build-outs faster rather than taking several years. It would authorize $6 billion for that purpose.

Work Visa Restrictions

On Monday, President Trump signed a proclamation to suspend the issuance of certain temporary worker visas through the end of 2020, cracking down further on immigration after signing a more narrow measure in April. The order applies to H-1B visas, H-2B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and certain J-1 visas. It is the latest effort by the Trump Administration to satisfy immigration hawks and groups that argue American workers should be prioritized, especially amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Notably excluded from the ban were agricultural visas, known as H-2A or “guest worker.” Counter to many of the Trump Administration’s policies, his Administration has approved a quarter-million of these H2-A temporary agricultural visas, a 55 percent increase from President Obama’s final year in office. With the current wages and conditions for U.S. agricultural workers, maintaining a steady floor of these “guest workers” is crucial to keeping grocery costs from dramatically swelling.

Click here for a fact sheet about the proclamation.

RCRC Submits Comments to CDFA on Proposed Industrial Hemp Rulemaking

In December 2018, the U.S. Congress enacted the 2018 Federal Farm Bill which, among other things, legalized the commercial production of hemp. Last Fall, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published an Interim Final Rule on Industrial hemp cultivation, testing and enforcement. In order for hemp cultivation to be federally legal, a state must enact regulatory structures that meet USDA’s guidelines in the Interim Final Rule and have an approved State Plan. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has undergone technical assistance with USDA to construct California’s State Plan and has issued formal rulemaking to comply with federal rules, as well as California Law. However, CDFA has not yet submitted a State Plan to the USDA for approval.

On Monday, RCRC submitted formal comments to CDFA on their proposed Industrial Hemp regulations prior to the 2020 growing season. Industrial hemp may provide new opportunities for farmers to invest and diversify farm operations with a new commodity, but can also present new regulatory issues for rural local governments. RCRC is committed to preserving local control and ensuring that counties, via County Agricultural Commissioners, have the tools to address any impacts associated with hemp production. For example, CDFA proposes strict timeframes for an Agricultural Commissioner to sample industrial hemp for testing, which ensures it is, in fact, distinct from cannabis. Among RCRC’s requests is for CDFA to take full advantage of the flexibility provided by USDA by prescribing a 15-day sampling timeframe, thus better managing the workload of an Agricultural Commissioner during harvest. To view RCRC’s comments in full, see here.


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

Caltrans and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Announce SB 743 Virtual Town Hall

The California Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) are hosting a Virtual Town Hall for a conversation on Senate Bill 743, which authorized OPR to update California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines and require lead agencies to evaluate Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as a transportation analysis metric. These CEQA changes take full effect and apply statewide on July 1st. A new Frequently Asked Questions document, and other SB 743 resources are available on the OPR SB 743 website.

Date:  July 1, 2020
Time:  1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

For more information about the SB 743 Virtual Town Hall webinar, see the announcement here. Register for the webinar here or view it live on the OPR YouTube Channel.


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.

HCD will host a webinar on June 29 at 1:30 p.m. to answer questions and help potential applicants prepare successful applications. You can register for the webinar here, and access the 2019-2020 CDBG NOFA amendment and links to the online application here.


North State Drinking Water Solutions Network Webinar

The Northern California Water Association is hosting the inaugural meeting of the North State Drinking Water Solutions Network on Wednesday, July 8, from 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. The meeting, being held via webinar, will focus on sharing information regarding:

  • Drinking water challenges in the Sacramento River Basin
  • Updates from the State Water Board regarding new state funding and technical assistance opportunities, including the Safe & Affordable Drinking Water Fund and Administrator Policy
  • Existing non-profit technical assistance and training programs available to small water systems, schools, and others
  • Ongoing efforts by water suppliers to expand access to safe drinking water and the Sacramento Valley Water Quality Coalition’s work to protect surface water and groundwater quality

Representatives from local government, water systems, nonprofit technical providers, landowners, and others interested in advancing drinking water solutions are invited to attend. Additional details are available here.


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 is July 6, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. To apply or for more information, see the job bulletin here.

  • Colusa County Seeks Assistant Director of Public Work/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.

  • Butte County Seeks Chief Administrative Officer

Butte County is recruiting for the position of Chief Administrative Officer. The filing deadline is July 20, 2020. To apply or for more information, see the announcement 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.


CARB to Host an Air Regulatory Overview Webinar for Public Agencies in California

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will be hosting an Air Regulatory Overview webinar for public agencies on June 29, 2020.

This course is an overview of air regulations that public agencies in California have compliance requirements including:

  • Idling Limitations;
  • On-Road Public Fleet Regulation;
  • In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation>
  • Periodic Smoke Inspection Program; and
  • Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP).

DATE:     June 29, 2020
TIME:     1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:  Register


Public Forums for Southern California Edison’s Proposed Rate Increase on Electric Customers

Public Forums to discuss Southern California Edison’s 20.5% rate increase request with the California Public Utilities Commission have been scheduled to occur on Tuesday, June 30th and Wednesday, July 1st at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. each day. To participate and make public comments at that time, call 1-800-857-1917, passcode 1673482, or you may view the public meeting here. For the full public notice, see 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 Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Mendocino,  Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, and Yuba Counties. Upcoming webinars are scheduled as follows:

  • July 1 – Humboldt, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties (join webinar here)
  • July 8 – Glenn, Tehama, and Shasta Counties (join webinar here)
  • July 15 – Alpine, Tuolumne, and Mariposa Counties (join webinar here)
  • July 22 – Merced, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties
  • July 29 – San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties
  • August 5 – Tulare, Madera, and Fresno Counties

See a full schedule, find information to join a webinar by phone, or view past presentations here. Check back for links to future webinars.


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.


2020 Sustainable Groundwater Management Watershed Coordinator (SGMA) Grant Program

A new 2020 Sustainable Groundwater Management Watershed Coordinator (SGMA) Grant Program is being launched at the Department of Conservation. Grants are being offered for watershed coordinators in parts of the state impacted by implementation of SGMA. Information about the program can be found here. Applications 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.


RCRC Annual Meeting in Napa County Cancelled

The RCRC Annual Meeting 2020 has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This meeting was scheduled to occur in Napa County this September. Several factors led to this difficult decision, most notably, current and future state and local government guidelines. 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.


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

Assembly Bill 609 (Levine): CEQA: Electronic Filing and Posting: Assembly Bill 609 requires lead agencies to post various CEQA notices on their internet web sites and expands the universe of CEQA documents that lead agencies must submit to the State Clearinghouse. Status: AB 609 awaits consideration in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Assembly Bill 1071 (Limon): Climate Change: Agriculture: Agricultural Climate: Assembly Bill 1071 requires the council to provide guidance in the development of, and to coordinate the activities of member agencies of the council for, a grant program, known as the Agricultural Climate Adaptation Tools Program, as specified, to provide funding for activities that include development of specified planning tools for adapting to climate change and developing resiliency strategies in the agricultural sector, using the best available science. Status: AB 1071 awaits consideration in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. RCRC Status: Watch

Assembly Bill 1958 (Cooper): State Plan of Flood Control: Facilities: Assembly Bill 1958 would protect critical flood protection infrastructure by bolstering the maintenance of levees throughout California. Status: AB 1958 awaits consideration in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 2459 (Bigelow): Alcoholic Beverage Licenses: County of Mariposa: Assembly Bill 2459 would authorize the Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue up to 10 additional new original on‑sale alcoholic beverage licenses to bona fide public eating places in Mariposa County that have a seating capacity for 50 or more persons.  Status: AB 2459 awaits consideration in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.  RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 2642 (Salas): Multi-benefit Land Conversion Incentive Program: Assembly Bill 2642 requires the Department of Conservation to establish and administer a program named the Multi-benefit Land Conversion Incentive Program for purposes of providing grants to groundwater sustainability agencies, or other specified entities designated by groundwater sustainability agencies, for the development or implementation of local programs supporting or facilitating multi-benefit land conversion at the basin scale. Status: AB 2642 held by Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support.

Assembly Bill 3256 (Garcia): Bond Act: Assembly Bill 3256 Enacts the Economic Recovery, Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act, which, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in a specified amount to finance projects for an economic recovery, wildfire prevention, safe drinking water, drought preparation, and flood protection program. Status: AB 3256 Assembly Rules Committee, pending referred to the Assembly Floor with Amendments. Note: The deadline for submission to the Secretary of State for the November 2020 ballot was 25 June 2020. RCRC Status: Watch

Senate Bill 45 (Allen): Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act 2020. Senate Bill 45 enacts the Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020, which, if approved by voters, authorizes the issuance of bonds to finance projects to restore fire damaged areas, reduce wildfire risk, create healthy forests and watersheds, reduce climate impacts on urban areas and vulnerable populations, protect water supply and water quality, protect rivers, lakes and streams, reduce flood risk, protect fish and wildlife from climate impacts, and protect coastal lands and resources. Status: SB 45 has passed out from the Senate and awaits consideration from the Assembly. Note: The deadline for submission to the Secretary of State for the November 2020 ballot was 25 June 2020. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 974 (Hurtado): California Environmental Quality Act: Water Systems: Senate Bill 974 exempts from CEQA certain projects that benefit a small community water system that primarily serves one or more disadvantaged communities or that benefit a non-transient noncommunity water system that serves a school that serves one or more disadvantaged communities, by improving the small community water system's or non-transient noncommunity water system's water quality, water supply, or water supply reliability, or by encouraging water conservation. Status: SB 974 awaits consideration on the Senate Floor. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 989 (Dahle): Sierra Nevada Conservancy: Sierra Nevada Region: Senate Bill 989Modifies areas listed under the definitions of the Sierra Nevada Region and its subregions as specified for purposes of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Status: SB 989 In Assembly, held at desk. RCRC Status: Support