The Barbed Wire - May 14, 2021

May 14, 2021
U.S. Treasury Releases Guidance on Funds to Counties
Bill of the Week: AB 754 (Mathis) - Sustainable Groundwater Management: Groundwater Sustainability Plan
Register Today! RCRC Presents a Live Webinar - Resources for Local Governments, Hosted by California Treasurer Fiona Ma
ICYMI: Hometown California Sits Down with Patrick “Pat” Blacklock, RCRC President and CEO
Bipartisan Carbon Tax Bill Reintroduced in House
Biden Administration Unveils Plan to Conserve 30 Percent of U.S. Lands and Water
Garamendi Introduces Bill to Unlock Federal Financing for Western Water Storage

U.S. Treasury Releases Guidance on Funds to Counties

On Monday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released guidance on the State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan. The bill includes $350 billion in aid to state and local governments as well as $65.1 billion in direct aid to every county in America. Additionally, the U.S. Treasury opened the new portal that counties must complete to receive Fiscal Recovery Funds. State and local governments can begin applying for the aid this coming Monday, May 17th. Coinciding with the release of these funds, several Republican-led states have been in a legal battle with the Biden Administration over whether states can cut taxes after taking relief money and using it to solidify their budgets. The U.S. Treasury insisted on Monday that the relief money not be used to subsidize tax cuts, directly or indirectly. Under the State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund program, California will receive nearly $43 billion in funding, including $27 billion for the state government, $7.7 billion for California counties, and $8.2 billion for California cities.

The U.S. Treasury will be noticing the Interim Rule which governs how the funds can be used for a 60-day comment period in the coming days. RCRC encourages member counties to provide feedback to RCRC Acting Vice President Governmental Affairs, Staci Heaton, at


Bill of the Week: AB 754 (Mathis) - Sustainable Groundwater Management: Groundwater Sustainability Plan

RCRC has expressed support for Assembly Bill 754, authored by Assembly Member Devon Mathis (R-Inyo), which would authorize the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to extend the deadline for submission of a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) for a high- or medium-priority basin by up-to-180 days after January 31, 2022 upon the request of a local agency or groundwater sustainability agency.

Since their enactment over five years ago, the laws and regulations that are collectively referred to as the “Sustainable Groundwater Management Act” (SGMA) have directed local agencies to undertake significant research, analysis, planning, and political brokering over the management of local groundwater resources. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions, as well as other challenges to conducting robust stakeholder engagement and public review, local governments have been greatly hindered from conducting the kind of public process that they intended in order to meet the comprehensive requirements for submitting plans for high- and medium-priority basins. This bill will allow counties and groundwater sustainability agencies that encountered issues with drafting GSPs in 2020 to request additional time to ensure that plans submitted to DWR are informed by the stakeholder and public input necessary to meet the requirements of SGMA.

AB 754 was heard at the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife on April 26th, and passed with nine votes in support and four opposed (and with two committee members not recording a vote). RCRC and Modoc County Supervisor Geri Byrne testified in lead support of the bill. AB 754 will next be heard Wednesday, May 19th in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC’s letters of support are available here. For more information, contact Sidd Nag, RCRC Legislative Advocate by email or call (916) 447-4806.

Register Today! RCRC Presents a Live Webinar - Resources for Local Governments, Hosted by California Treasurer Fiona Ma

RCRC is pleased to present a webinar hosted by California Treasurer Fiona Ma entitled Resources for Local Governments. The webinar is scheduled to occur on Wednesday, May 26th at 10:00 a.m.

Treasurer Ma has identified programs within the Treasurer’s Office that offer both direct and indirect benefits to local governments. Indirect benefits include those programs that provide financial resources and/or tax credits to businesses in your communities, thus reducing the cost of operations and encouraging capital investment and job creation in local communities.Treasurer Ma will be joined by professional staff from each of the programs presented. There will be an opportunity for Q&A as the webinar unfolds.


Local Agency Investment Fund Program

The Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF) Program offers local agencies the opportunity to participate in a major portfolio using the investment expertise of the Treasurer’s Office – at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

Director Kristin Szakaly-Moore and LAIF Administrator Christina Sarron will discuss the benefits of and recent changes to the LAIF Program.


California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA)

The Authority has a number of programs that work collaboratively with public and private partners to provide innovative and effective financing solutions for California’s renewable energy, energy efficiency, and advanced transportation and manufacturing industries.

David Gibbs, Program Manager of the California Hub for Energy Efficiency Financing will present the Small Business Energy Efficiency Financing Program which provides financing options for energy efficiency retrofits for small-to-medium businesses.

Xee Moua with the Sales and Use Tax Exclusion Program will discuss the tax benefits for equipment purchases that promote alternative energy and advanced transportation companies in your communities.

Gabrielle Stevenson from the California Pollution Control Finance Authority will discuss the low-cost innovative financing solutions targeting California businesses and environmental industries, as well as the California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) which encourages financial institutions to make loans to small businesses.



CalSavers is California’s new retirement savings program created for the millions of Californians who do not have a way to save at their job. CalSavers was created by legislation passed in 2016 requiring California employers that do not already sponsor a retirement plan to participate in CalSavers – an automatic enrollment individual retirement account (IRA) with no employer fees and employers are not fiduciaries. For California workers, enrollment is easy, investing is simple, and accounts are portable.

Jonathan Herrera from CalSavers will present this program.


Register now and join RCRC and Treasurer Fiona Ma for this informative overview of programs that can benefit your community and the businesses that call it home.

ICYMI: Hometown California Sits Down with Patrick “Pat” Blacklock, RCRC President and CEO

In the latest episode of Hometown California, our host, Paul A. Smith, sits down for a conversation with Patrick "Pat" Blacklock, the new President and CEO of RCRC. Learn how Pat's journey in the county family began, what led him to RCRC, and his vision for RCRC's advocacy and support of rural counties.  At what Californians hope may be the tail end of pandemic shutdowns, in a redistricting year with new challenges brought about by the pandemic, and with a gubernatorial recall election on the horizon, hear how Pat is looking toward the future as he begins to lead RCRC in these unique times.

Having worked as CAO of both Amador and Yolo counties, Pat shares his perspective on the similarities and differences of rural California counties. Listen in to hear what Pat sees as priorities for RCRC, his plans for setting the organization’s path for the future, and his secret to maintaining work/life balance when counties run 24/7. Download the episode now, and find other episodes of Hometown California right here.

And, next week, don't miss a new episode of Hometown California when Paul speaks with Rich Gordon, President and CEO of the California Forestry Association (soon-to-be retired). Aside from being at the CA Forestry Association, Mr. Gordon has a long history service in California. Listen in to hear about his facinating journey from his first elected position nearly 20 years ago to his current role, and how his experiences have impacted his understanding of California’s rural counties.

Bipartisan Carbon Tax Bill Reintroduced in House

Last week, Representative Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) re-introduced the MARKET CHOICE Act, which seeks to implement a fee on carbon emissions.  Such a fee structure would send 70 percent of the revenue to the Highway Trust Fund and eliminate the federal gas tax.  The bill would do this by levying a $35 per-metric-ton tax on fossil fuels — specifically coal, oil, and gas — a charge that would begin in 2023 and increase by 5 percent every year, indexed to inflation.  In addition to sending 70 percent of the revenue to the Highway Trust Fund, the measure calls for the remaining 30 percent to be distributed through a yet-to-be created trust fund at the U.S. Department of Treasury. 

Biden Administration Unveils Plan to Conserve 30 Percent of U.S. Lands and Water

Last week, the Biden Administration released its initial report on 30 by 30, which details how the coalition of executive agencies wants to achieve President Biden’s goal of conserving 30 percent of the country's lands and waters by 2030, focusing on voluntary and locally led efforts instead of a nationally mandated program. The report, submitted to the National Climate Task Force, was developed by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. It lays out some key principles and policies known as the America The Beautiful Initiative and outlines eight principles that should guide the nationwide effort. These include: a pursuit of collaborative approaches; a commitment to supporting the voluntary conservation efforts of farmers, ranchers, and fishers; and honoring of Tribal sovereignty and private property rights. The Biden Administration hopes to use the 2023 Farm Bill to strengthen and expand many of the existing programs detailed in the report.

Garamendi Introduces Bill to Unlock Federal Financing for Western Water Storage

Last week, Representative John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) introduced bipartisan legislation making low-interest federal financing available for reservoir and drought resiliency projects. This bill (H.R. 2979) would amend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to make public water projects such as the off-stream Sites Reservoir Project eligible for low-interest, longer-term federal loans from the Environmental Protection Agency. Specifically for California, the bill would unlock nearly $6 billion in low-interest federal financing for western water storage projects, including funds to build the off-stream Sites Reservoir in California’s northern Sacramento Valley.


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


“Coyote in the Urban Environment” Webinar

The California Fish and Game Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife are conducting a “Coyote in the Urban Environment” webinar on Friday, May 28, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. In the workshop, topics of statewide significance will be discussed specific to community-level coyote management plans, outreach, and education strategies to help address potential conflict. For more information, visit the California Fish and Game Commission website here.

Register here!


CSAC and RCRC Redistricting Webinar Series Now Available for Viewing

This spring, CSAC and RCRC teamed up to bring you a 2021 Redistricting Webinar Series, breaking down all you need to know about redistricting for your county.Participants received insights beneficial for developing an effective timeline, gathering public input, methods of line drawing, understanding the legal requirements, and so much more. View the recorded presentations and download the slides here.


Free Training Webinar for How to Use the California Vegetation Treatment Program

The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is offering a free training webinar about how to use the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to streamline California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance for vegetation treatment projects. 

The training course will cover the following topics: 

Part 1: Overview of the CalVTP Program EIR

  • Treatment types and activities
  • Treatable landscape
  • Eligible project proponents

Part 2: Preparing a CEQA Document Using the CalVTP Program EIR

  • CEQA Fundamentals – Program EIRs
  • Project-Specific Analysis
  • Project-Specific Analysis/Addendum
  • Decision Documentation and Approval Process
  • MMRP Implementation

Wrap Up: CalVTP Training Resources

Date: Thursday, May 20, 2021
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT
Register here

Visit the How to Use the CalVTP webpage for training materials.


International Shipments, Payments, & Protecting Your Brand: A Webinar for Rural and Native American Firms

On May 26, the U.S. Commercial Service (CS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, will be holding the third and final webinar in the spring 2021 series focused on global digital marketing/sales strategies, for rural and Native American organizations. This free webinar will focus on international shipments, payments, & protecting your brand. For more information, see here.
Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Time: 12:00-1:30pm Pacific
Register 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.


State Department Offers Free Domestic Well Water Quality Testing

The Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR’s) Groundwater Protection Program is seeking volunteers with domestic wells to allow water quality samples be collected. These samples would be collected over time through a passive sampler and give DPR a better understanding of groundwater quality, specifically as it relates to pesticides. All equipment and testing is free to the volunteer. For more information, see here or contact


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 April 21, 2021 through June 16, 2021, and in-person Saturday, May 15th in San Bernardino County
  • Online every Tuesday, (6-7:30pm) starting June 1, 2021 through July 27, 2021, and in-person, Saturday, June 26th in Sonoma County

For more information, see here.






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.