The Barbed Wire - May 24, 2024

May 24, 2024
RCRC-Sponsored Organic Waste Legislation, Assembly Bill 2902 (Wood), Passes Assembly
Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 2561 (McKinnor) - Local Public Employees: Vacant Positions
State Opens Comment Period for Black Bear Conservation Plan
House of Representatives Passes Fire Victims Tax Relief Bill
Federal Government Initiates Rulemaking to Reschedule Cannabis
Biden-Harris Administration Announces $81 Million from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda for Drought Resilience in San Joaquin Valley
Secretary Haaland Highlights Locally and Tribally Led Conservation Efforts in Southern California
Save the Date for RCRC Webinar on Empowering Rural Counties by Navigating Gubernatorial Appointments

RCRC-Sponsored Organic Waste Legislation, Assembly Bill 2902 (Wood), Passes Assembly

On May 21st, RCRC-sponsored Assembly Bill 2902 (Wood, D-Healdsburg) passed the Assembly by a vote of 73-0.  AB 2902, which provides additional flexibility to local governments implementing  CalRecycle’s SB 1383 organic waste diversion regulations, now advances to the Senate where it will likely be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee in mid-June.

CalRecycle’s SB 1383 regulations impose many requirements on local agencies, are generally tailored to work within the solid waste collection system that exists in urban areas, and are often poorly suited to deal with the needs and challenges of lower-population and rural areas.  The regulations provide very little flexibility to accommodate differing local needs, and rural and sparsely populated areas of the state face many of the greatest implementation challenges and cost increases.

AB 2902 extends the existing rural exemption under which the state’s 19 counties with fewer than 70,000 residents (and cities within those counties) are exempt from SB 1383’s collection and procurement obligations. Those 19 counties are Lake, San Benito, Tehama, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Siskiyou, Amador, Lassen, Glenn, Del Norte, Colusa, Inyo, Plumas, Mariposa, Trinity, Mono, Modoc, Sierra, and Alpine.  The bill also provides three years for rural jurisdictions that outgrow that population cap to come into full compliance with SB 1383.

For slightly larger counties, AB 2902 allows the 12 non-rural counties that generate less than 200,000 tons of solid waste annually (El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Kings, Mendocino, Madera, Napa, Nevada, Shasta, Yuba, Sutter, and Yolo Counties) to submit an alternative organic waste management plan for most of their unincorporated areas to CalRecycle for approval.  That process is expected to provide more flexibility for CalRecycle to take into consideration and accommodate unique local needs and challenges.

AB 2902 also seeks to provide more flexibility for CalRecycle to consider granting additional “elevation waivers” for areas below 4,500 feet in elevation and where nearby bear populations pose a public safety and animal welfare risk.  Other components of AB 2902 seek to increase local benefits from edible food recovery programs, sustain the use of organics for local animal feed practices, promote carbon farming, adjust procurement targets to exclude populations covered by exemptions, facilitate the development of smaller-scale community composting programs, and reinforce existing caselaw that local compost and mulch give aways as well as rebates are not a gift of public funds.

RCRC’s letter of support is available here.  For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, John Kennedy.

Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 2561 (McKinnor) - Local Public Employees: Vacant Positions

RCRC, along with a broad coalition of local government associations, oppose Assembly Bill 2561, authored by Assembly Member Tina McKinnor (D-Inglewood). This measure requires local public agencies with bargaining unit vacancy rates exceeding 10 percent for more than 180 days (approximately 6 months) to produce, implement, and publish a plan to reduce their vacancy rates to 0 percent within the subsequent 180 days. The bill also requires the public agency to present this plan during a public hearing to the governing legislative body and to publish the plan on its internet website for public review for at least one year.

Local public agencies – like all other employers in California and across the nation – face several challenges related to recruitment and retention due to a number of factors, such as rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, The Great Resignation, competing with the private sector for a limited hiring pool, and some disinterest in returning to in-office work. Many specialty positions like nurses, licensed behavioral health professionals, social workers, utility workers, police, teachers, and planners are experiencing nationwide workforce shortages and a dwindling pipeline for new entrants, driven by both an expansion of services and an aging workforce.

Sizable vacancy rates exist in the public sector - for the state and for local employers. While the bill notably omits the state, the vacancy rate for the State of California has consistently been above 10 percent statewide for at least the past 20 years. For counties, the issue of vacancies is particularly acute with the highest rates typically in county behavioral health, the sheriff’s department, corrections, and employment and social services.

Requiring local public agencies to produce, implement, and publish a plan every time one of their many bargaining units exceeds 10 percent vacancy rates for more than 180 days will keep local agencies on a perpetual cycle in order to comply. This will be incredibly taxing on agency staff and financial resources, likely resulting in diverting county staff away from core service delivery to comply.

If the true intent of AB 2561 is to provide a path for local public agencies to reduce staff vacancies, diverting staff away from core service delivery and mandating they spend time producing reports on their vacancy rates will not achieve that goal. Adding another unfunded mandate on public agencies will not solve the problem this bill has identified. It is just as likely to create even more burn-out from employees tasked with producing the very report the bill mandates.

AB 2561 passed off the Assembly floor on May 22 and is awaiting committee referral in the Senate. RCRC’s letter of opposition is available here. RCRC encourages counties to oppose this measure and contact their legislative delegation. For additional information, contact RCRC Policy Advocate, Sarah Dukett

State Opens Comment Period for Black Bear Conservation Plan

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has opened a public comment period for the state’s draft Black Bear Conservation Plan, which was released in April 2024. The draft plan serves as an update to the previous plan, which was developed in 1998. CDFW defines two main goal for the Plan: 1) To conserve black bear populations and 2) to provide opportunities for black bear hunting, viewing and public education while minimizing bear-human conflict and considering animal welfare in black bear conservation. CDFW will be accepting comments until June 14, 2024. For more information, including full text of the draft Plan and instructions on how to comment, visit the CDFW Black Bear website.

House of Representatives Passes Fire Victims Tax Relief Bill

On Tuesday May 21, the House voted 382-7 in favor of the Federal Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2023 (H.R. 5863). The bill's vote occurred only after a House majority led by Representative Mike Thompson (D-Lake County) signed a discharge petition seeking action on the bill, triggering a need to act by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote before going to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

The Federal Disaster Tax Relief Act excludes from taxpayer gross income, for income tax purposes, any amount received by an individual taxpayer as compensation for expenses or losses incurred due to a qualified wildfire disaster (a disaster declared after 2014 as a result of a forest or range fire).

The bill includes Representative Thompson's legislation that would exempt thousands of qualified wildfire victims in California, including Pacific Gas and Electric fire victims, from having to pay federal income tax on their settlement money or pay tax on attorney fees that are included in the settlement. This relief would also apply retroactively to qualified victims.

“Fire survivors have been through enough in the wake of losing their homes and livelihoods to wildfires — it’s wrong to tax them on the settlement money meant to help them rebuild their lives,” said Representative Thompson on Tuesday. “Today’s bipartisan vote to provide tax relief to fire survivors is an important step towards recovery for those who lost homes, businesses, and loved ones and sends a clear message to Senate Republicans: It’s time to work with us to pass much-needed relief for disaster victims.”

Federal Government Initiates Rulemaking to Reschedule Cannabis

On May 21st, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided a notice of proposed rulemaking that would transfer cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs (such as heroin) have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse, while Schedule III drugs (such as codeine and anabolic steroids) have moderate to low potential for dependence. Since 1996 when California became the first state to legalize the medicinal use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis, 37 other states have followed suit and a total of 23 states have legalized adult-use of cannabis since 2012.

This rulemaking comes of the heels of a request from President Biden in October 2022 to the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services to initiate a process to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Notably, this rulemaking does not extend to synthetically derived THC, nor does it affect the status of hemp, which is excluded from the definition of cannabis. While cannabis business activities would remain illegal under federal law, they would no longer be barred from certain tax deductions for allowable business expenses. Further, rescheduling cannabis would have no detrimental effect on state regulatory structures, nor would it have any effect on cannabis businesses’ ability to access financial services or banking.

The federal rulemaking docket can be accessed here. For more information, contact RCRC Policy Advocates Sarah Dukett or Leigh Kammerich.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $81 Million from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda for Drought Resilience in San Joaquin Valley

On Tuesday May 21, 2024, the Department of the Interior announced $81 million from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for water conservation and drought resilience south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California’s San Joaquin Valley. 

For several decades, the Central Valley Project has served the communities and economies of central California. The project, extending 400 miles, is a complex, multi-purpose network of dams, reservoirs, canals, hydroelectric powerplants and other facilities, which reduces flood risk for the Central Valley and supplies domestic and industrial water supplies across the region. The project supports about 2.5 million people a year, providing supplies to 250 contractors in 29 of California’s 58 counties. 

Central Valley Project water deliveries south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are dependent on Reclamation’s ability to pump water from the Delta, San Luis Reservoir water storage, and conveyance through Central Valley Project canals. Through the new drought plan, Central Valley Project South-of-Delta contractors will share a portion of their wet water year supplies for use in driest years. This will help provide critical water supplies to refuges and cities, save permanent crops from being fallowed in drought years, and keep water in the San Joaquin River in the worst of drought years. 

The plan provides major benefits both to farmers and to salmon in the San Joaquin, California’s second longest river. The river restoration program has junior water rights and is vulnerable to severe water cutbacks in the driest of years. The creation of a “drought pool” of additional water supplies in these driest of years will help ensure that there is water for the salmon when they most need it. 

To realize the benefits of the drought plan, the contractors, in collaboration with Reclamation, have identified a number of critical infrastructure projects that are key to successful implementation. The $81 million investment from the Inflation Reduction Act announced Tuesday will help fund a majority of the projects. The funding will also help to establish additional aquifer storage, recharge and recovery wells, re-operations of existing surface storage, and conveyance capacity expansion. 

Secretary Haaland Highlights Locally and Tribally Led Conservation Efforts in Southern California

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited Southern California last week, where she met with federal, state, Tribal and local officials and community members to learn about their vision for conserving the area’s natural and cultural resources and meeting shared clean energy goals through the proposed establishment of Chuckwalla National Monument and expansion of Joshua Tree National Park.  

The proposal to establish Chuckwalla National Monument encompasses more than 600,000 acres of existing Bureau of the Land Management public lands within Imperial and Riverside counties in Southern California. The desert landscape holds historic objects and cultural significance for many Tribes in the area, and it provides critical habitat and corridors for wildlife, including the Mojave Desert tortoise and Bighorn Sheep.  

The proposal – which has been introduced by members of the California congressional delegation in both chambers of U.S. Congress – builds upon decades of work from Tribes, elected officials, and community members to conserve the greater Chuckwalla landscape and build a responsible clean energy future. 

Save the Date for RCRC Webinar on Empowering Rural Counties by Navigating Gubernatorial Appointments

On June 13th, join RCRC for an informative webinar titled “Navigating Gubernatorial Appointments: Empowering Rural Counties.” 

This webinar aims to demystify the application process for gubernatorial appointments and the various responsibilities associated with stepping into these important roles. It will be hosted by Sierra County Supervisor Lee Adams, featuring Morgan Carvajal, the Chief Deputy Appointments Secretary at the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.  

Date: Thursday, June 13 
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. 
Register here  | See Flyer Here 


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


Employment Opportunities


Mendocino County

Shasta County

Shasta County is seeking a County Clerk/Registrar of Voters - Salary: $150,432.00 Annually. The position closes at 5:00 p.m. on June 7, 2024. To learn more here or to apply, see here.


CCDEH and CAEHA Seeking Shared Executive Director and Advocate (Sacramento - Remote)

The California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH) and California Association of Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) are seeking to fill a shared executive director and advocate position in Sacramento. This is a full-time position shared between these two public health organizations. This position is open through June 1, 2024, 5:00 PM, or until filled. Compensation and benefits are negotiable. Submit resumes by email to To learn more, see the job announcement here.

CCDEH is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was established in 1956 to promote public environmental health in California – especially at the local government level. CCDEH has three staff and a budget of approximately $.5million. CAEHA is a 501(c)(4) non-profit established in 1968 with 3 staff and a budget of approximately $2.0million. CAEHA serves CCDEH and local environmental health programs through state-wide advocacy and staffing support. Both organizations work closely with the hazardous materials and 
safety regulators in the California Unified Program. The incumbent will be expected to advocate on behalf of the local Unified Program agencies as well as CCDEH. For additional information on these organizations see:,, and


2024 Public Meetings of the Drought Resilience Interagency & Partners (DRIP) Collaborative

Mark your calendars for the upcoming 2024 meetings of the Department of Water Resources DRIP (Drought Resilience Interagency & Partners) meetings. Members of the public may observe each meeting and provide public comments in-person (Sacramento) or remotely. Click the links below for information about each upcoming meeting.

July 12, 2024 | 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

October 18, 2024 | 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


Access the State Grants Portal for a Multitude of Funding Opportunities

Billions of dollars are up for grabs to public agencies and other entities, including tribes and businesses. Grant seekers can access a centralized portal of grant and loan opportunities here, or sign up to receive new grant opportunities delivered straight to your inbox


Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.

Andy Fecko, Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) General Manager was awarded the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) 2024 Excellence in Water Leadership Award on May 8th for his leadership and commitment to water resource issues, especially in reducing fuel load in our National Forest system lands. At PCWA, Fecko manages several billion dollars of infrastructure that must be operational at all times, including during and after wildfires that have become more common and destructive in the past decade. In response to the devastating Kings Fire in 2014, Fecko led the region’s creation of the French Meadows Forest Restoration Project – a public/private forest health partnership. The project consists of 30,000 acres of ecological thinning within the Tahoe National Forest. This is a first-of-its-kind project that established the formula for success in California forest management, which is based on collaboration.



RCRC press releases and related news clips about RCRC and our member counties. Please note that a subscription may be required to read some external publications.


Undoing important investments in wildfire prevention would place California in harm’s way – The Sacramento Bee

Californians have witnessed 15 of the 20 most destructive wildfires in our state’s history in the last decade. What was once known as “fire season” has become a year-round battle against Mother Nature. Although weather patterns have tamed the most recent wildfire seasons over the last two years, heavy precipitation has led to increased “fuel loads” — vegetation in fire-prone forested landscapes.


California’s largest reservoir fills for a second year in a row – The San Francisco Chronicle

Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in California, is virtually full for the second year in a row, following months of steady storms. NASA satellite images show how much conditions have changed at Shasta Lake from about two years ago, when the reservoir was at just 39% of total capacity.


What Californians are paying for home insurance in every ZIP code – The San Francisco Chronicle

In California, homeowners may pay anywhere from under $1,000 to more than $10,000 per year to insure their homes — and it may depend in large part on where they live, state data analyzed by the Chronicle shows.