The Barbed Wire - May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020
Federal Relief to State and Local Governments
Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1347 (Galgiani) – Veterinary Medicine
RCRC Weighs in on Latest SB 1383 Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Organics Regulations
State Air Board Considers Regulations to Eliminate Diesel Trucks
Amending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Rural Communities Face Unique Challenges Not Yet Addressed by Federal Aid Response
Governor Extends the Timeline for Local Governments to File Reimbursement Claims Regarding Crimes Committed in State Prisons/State Hospitals
Rural Broadband
Cannabis Banking
KEEPING UP
BULLETIN BOARD
CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) ASSISTANCE

Federal Relief to State and Local Governments

Although the House of Representatives narrowly passed the HEROES Act last Friday evening, Senate Republicans have no immediate plans to advance another relief package. The Senate adjourned for the long Memorial Day week and will return on June 1 to consider a handful of appointments, work on the re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address reforms to the Paycheck Protection Program (funds for the Paycheck Protection Program will likely be exhausted in late May or June, which may put pressure on both houses of Congress to develop and enact some secondary relief package).

On Monday, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) formally introduced the State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act (S. 3752). This legislation provides an additional $500 billion in aid to state and local governments, territories and tribes to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, with the smallest communities in line for a direct slice of the money. It eliminates the current 500,000 resident population threshold, allowing every state, county, municipality, U.S. territory and the District of Columbia to qualify for direct federal assistance. Additionally, the SMART Fund targets funding to areas of greatest need based upon infection rates and revenue losses and overturns the U.S. Treasury’s guidance on how state and local governments could use the CARES stabilization funding.

Under the new bill, $16 billion would be set aside for Native American tribes. The remaining $484 billion would be allocated to states, territories, the District of Columbia, counties and municipalities as follows:

  • One-third of the $484 billion would be distributed based on each state or territory's percentage of the U.S. population. Counties and municipalities would each get one-sixth of the state allocation, in proportion to their share of the state's population.
  • One-third would be distributed according to each share of nationwide COVID-19 infections, with counties and municipalities again getting one-sixth of their state's money based on population.
  • The final third would be parceled out based on each state's revenue losses as a percentage of combined state losses over the course of this year. Counties and municipalities again would get their one-sixth share, based on their revenue losses in proportion to overall losses in their state.

Each state would receive at least $2 billion from the first two tranches — up from $1.25 billion in the CARES Act — on top of any money they receive from revenue losses in the third tranche. The funds could be used for pandemic-related costs occurring in 2020 through the end of 2022, or to replace lost revenue during that period.

Senators Cassidy and Menendez first unveiled their proposal in late April. Since then, they made a key change by eliminating the floor in their original plan that would have limited aid to cities and counties with 50,000 or more residents.

On Tuesday, Congresswoman Sherrill introduced H.R. 6954 to amend title VI of the Social Security Act to establish a Coronavirus Local Community Stabilization Fund. With bipartisan support from nine co-sponsors so far, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Late this week, RCRC expressed to Congressional leaders the need to enact further federal assistance to states and counties. Read the letter here.

Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1347 (Galgiani) – Veterinary Medicine

RCRC has lent its support to Senate Bill 1347, authored by Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton). SB 1347 would allow animals in animal shelters to receive immediate and necessary basic first aid and preventive care without the presence of a veterinarian.

Specifically, SB 1347 would expand the types of veterinary care services that may be provided by properly trained employees at an animal shelter without the presence of a veterinarian. These services would include preventative or prophylactic vaccinations, administration of nonprescription medication, and basic first aid. SB 1347 also allows animal shelter officers, employees, and volunteers to perform wound care and administer medication without the presence of a veterinarian, when in accordance with a written treatment plan provided to the shelter by a licensed veterinarian. RCRC believes SB 1347 would allow rural animal shelters and its agencies or humane societies to properly treat animals, prevent communicable disease transmission, and will ultimately save the lives of adoptable pets.

The Senate Business, Professions & Economic Development Committee heard SB 1347 on Monday, where it passed on an 8-0 vote. RCRC’s letter can be accessed here. For more information, please contact Tracy Rhine, RCRC Legislative Advocate, at (916) 447-4806 or trhine@rcrcnet.org.

RCRC Weighs in on Latest SB 1383 Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Organics Regulations

RCRC has, once again, provided extensive comments on a draft of CalRecycle’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Organics regulations, which the agency has been developing pursuant to 2016’s Senate Bill 1383 (Lara). The most recent draft was made available for 30-day comment in response to the Office of Administrative Law’s rejection of the previous draft and direction that the agency re-draft several portions of the regulations for the sake of clarity.

The most recent draft’s amendments were largely cosmetic, but it did make some dramatic changes to enforcement and penalty language that could impact local jurisdictions trying to comply with the requirements in good faith. RCRC pointed out those changes in a letter filed with the agency on May 19, 2020 and stressed the difficulties that rural jurisdictions would already face in complying with the regulations without the undue burden of the more stringent enforcement.

RCRC continues to not only pursue alternate compliance pathways for small jurisdictions, but will continue to request a delay in SB 1383 implementation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read RCRC’s comments here.

State Air Board Considers Regulations to Eliminate Diesel Trucks

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is accepting comments on its latest draft of the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) regulations, a rulemaking aimed at reducing emissions from the commercial truck fleet at the direction of the Administration. Government entities such as counties would also be regulated under the new requirements.

The ultimate goal of the ACT regulations is to replace much of the existing light-medium duty and heavier commercial vehicle fleet with electric vehicles by the year 2030. The requirements begin with truck sales and a complicated reporting mandate for fleet operators and brokers aimed at building an inventory of the state's fleet and what types of fuels are currently in use.

However, the latest version of the regulations gives no consideration to implementation costs in the wake of COVID-19, nor does it analyze the feasibility of using electric vehicles in rural areas where topography varies and where new barriers such as public safety power shut-offs could make zero emission vehicle use by counties a hazard to public safety. RCRC filed extensive comments on the latest version of the regulations to engage the agency on rural concerns.

For more information on the ACT regulations, visit CARB's website here.

Amending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Leaders in the House of Representatives have agreed to hold a vote next week on the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886), which will make urgently needed changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The legislation, introduced by Representative Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota) and Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas), comes amid growing concern in both parties that the PPP program is impractical for many employers, especially those in tourism driven economies. Currently, the government will forgive PPP loans after eight weeks if businesses use the funds to maintain their workforce. The amended legislation would give businesses 24 weeks to spend the money as well as eliminate a requirement that forced businesses to spend at least 75 percent of the funds on payroll if they want the full amount of the loans to be forgiven.

In a related matter, late this week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) put forth further changes to the Paycheck Protection Program in a bill being fast-tracked in the Senate. The proposed changes would:

  • Extend covered period for 7(a) loans from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020;
  • Extend PPP loan lifetime from 8 weeks to 16 weeks, and ensure borrowers who have maintained payroll for 8 weeks will not lose forgiveness eligibility due to the extension to 16 weeks;
  • Allow borrowers to purchase PPE and make safety upgrades/investments with loan funds; and
  • Ensure lenders are not held liable for the borrow certification and documentation during application.

As mentioned, the Senate adjourned without considering these reforms, but is expected to address the PPP in early June.

Rural Communities Face Unique Challenges Not Yet Addressed by Federal Aid Response

In a news article published on Tuesday, Rural County Representatives (RCRC) Chief Operating Officer / Chief Financial Officer, Lisa McCargar, provided insight about barriers that impede the ability of rural businesses to access government aid programs developed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As emphasized in RCRC’s ongoing advocacy for direct federal funding for small counties, many rural areas face strained financial resources, especially following the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. The response thus far—while recently moving in a positive direction— has been inadequate to address the distinct needs of rural communities. With unique insight into the plight of rural California, the article highlights the need for future federal aid packages to address rural-centric financial issues.

Read the full article here.

Governor Extends the Timeline for Local Governments to File Reimbursement Claims Regarding Crimes Committed in State Prisons/State Hospitals

On Tuesday, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-65-20 addressing several issues in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Among its provisions, the Executive Order (EO) further extends the time limit for local governments to submit reimbursement claims under Section 4750 of the California Penal Code (PC). The time limitation, first extended in March in response to COVID-19, has been delayed for an additional 60 days.

Under PC Section 4750, counties and cities with state prisons or state hospitals within their jurisdiction are eligible to receive reimbursement for various costs related to certain crimes committed at those facilities. The reimbursements are subject to strict administrative guidelines and time limitations. The latest extension acknowledges that local administrative services are experiencing increased demand as a result of the pandemic. As such, additional time is being allowed for local jurisdictions to meet the deadlines for submission.

Rural Broadband

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a teleconference forum with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to discuss critical consumer protection, broadband, and spectrum issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the hearing focused on receiving updates from Chairman Pai on what the FCC was doing to keep Americans connected during the pandemic, including the COVID-19 telehealth program and increased broadband access. The teleconference lacked much of the typical partisan discord so often associated with broadband and 5G discussions, with most members agreeing that obtaining and keeping broadband was vital during the pandemic and that the FCC was working hard to try to make that happen. Democrats focused slightly more on the gaps in broadband access the pandemic had exposed, while Republicans focused more on what the FCC was doing to help expand coverage given the current state of broadband. Additionally, both Democrats and Republicans praised FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's Keep Americans Connected pledge and the 750-plus Internet Service Providers who had signed on to it.

Additionally, on Monday FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released an op-ed on Medium announcing to expect a 5G infrastructure vote at the FCC’s June 9 meeting along with votes on an October rural broadband auction and next-generation broadcast TV tech.

Cannabis Banking

As part of the HEROES Act, SAFE Banking provisions were included to protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. Many Republicans have been quick to reject the cannabis provision’s inclusion, noting that the word “cannabis” is used 68 times in the Heroes Act which is more than “job” or “jobs” combined, an emphasis especially critical for an economic stimulus bill. Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado), chief sponsor of the SAFE Banking legislation, made the case on the House Floor this week that while some Republican lawmakers might argue that the cannabis language does not belong in a coronavirus bill, the measure would actually protect public health by reducing the threat of spreading the virus through cash transactions. His office has also published a one-pager highlighting these and additional reasons why cannabis banking provisions should be included in the final COVID-19 Phase 4 package. It should be noted that reforming federal banking law to allow for state-sanctioned commercial cannabis activities remains a top priority of RCRC.

KEEPING UP

Del Norte County Solid Waste Director Appointed to State Recycling Commission

Tedd Ward, Director of Del Norte County Solid Waste Authority and current Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority (ESJPA)Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Chair, was officially appointed on Tuesday to the Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling. Mr. Ward has been a valuable participant in the ESJPA since 2018, and was elected TAG Chair in March 2020.

The Commission was established by Assembly Bill 1583 (Eggman) in 2019 to advise CalRecycle on the recyclability of products and packaging. Mr. Ward’s appointment will ensure a rural perspective and voice on the Commission.

For more on the Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling, visit CalRecycle’s website here.

BULLETIN BOARD

CARB Announces Upcoming Informational Webinars for Public Agencies

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced upcoming informational overviews for public agencies on a variety of air quality regulations and how to comply.

Compliance Overview: Truck & Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment

Course topics include the following:

Truck and Bus Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Engine Model Year Schedule
  • Exemptions & Extensions
  • How to Report for Regulation Flexibilities
  • Broker and Dispatcher Requirements
  • DMV Registration

Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP):

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Program Updates

In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Requirements Currently in Effect
  • Future Compliance Deadlines

Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) & Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM):

  • PERP Eligibility
  • Program Requirements
  • ATCM Program & Updates
  • Enforcement & Inspections

DATE:     May 28, 2020
TIME:     1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:  Register

DATE:     June 9, 2020
TIME:     1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:   Register

Air Regulatory Overview for Public Agencies in California

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

 

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Holds Weekly Webinars to Answer Questions on New CEQA Process

Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg; 2013) requires a new process to analyze transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to vehicle miles traveled (VMT); more information can be found here. In order to answer questions that may arise as implementation nears for this new CEQA metric, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) will hold weekly “Office Hours” on a variety of topics from May 20th to June 24th. Please note that May 27th specifically focuses on rural implementation. Register here.

May 20, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Deeper Dive: Details on VMT Assessment Methods

May 27, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Implementing "743" in Rural Areas

June 3, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Other Land Uses Beyond Residential, Office, and Retail

June 10, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Tiering, Other Legal Topics

June 17, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
To Be Determined

June 24, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
To Be Determined

 

Career Opportunity- SRTA 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.

 

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.

 

County Drought Advisory Group Webinar

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has organized two webinars for the sixth CDAG stakeholder meeting to discuss and gather input on the Draft Report and Risk Scoring Tool released on April 14, 2020. This will be a 2-day meeting:

  • Part 1 for the sixth CDAG meeting will be held on May 27, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon via webinar only. The purpose of this part is to review, clarify, discuss, and receive comments on the drought and water shortage risk scoring and tool. Webinar registration information and further details can be found on the event page here.
  • Part 2 of the sixth CDAG meeting will be held on May 28, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon via webinar only. The purpose of this part is to discuss and receive comments on the Draft Report recommendations addressing drought and water shortage contingency planning for small water systems and rural communities. Webinar registration information and further details can be found on the event page here.

Agendas for both webinars will be posted to their respective event pages prior to each meeting.

 

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

PG&E announced a schedule of 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 Butte, Colusa, Lassen, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, and Yuba Counties. Upcoming webinars are scheduled as follows:

  • May 27 – El Dorado, Amador, and Calaveras Counties (join webinar here)
  • June 17 – Mendocino and Lake Counties
  • June 24 – Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties
  • July 1 – Humboldt, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties
  • July 8 – Glenn, Tehama, and Shasta Counties
  • July 15 – Alpine, Tuolumne, and Mariposa Counties
  • 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.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) ASSISTANCE

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.