The Barbed Wire - May 28, 2021

May 28, 2021
Wildfire Emergency Act
Bill of the Week: SB 493 (Bradford) – Local Government Financing: Juvenile Justice
Watch Now! Resources for Local Governments, Hosted by Treasurer Fiona Ma
Senate and Assembly Appropriations Suspense Files
Sonoma, Shasta and Tehama Counties Reach Agreement With PG&E on Kincade and Zogg Wildfire Claims
Rural Jobs Act Introduced
Biden Administration Advances Offshore Wind Off California Coast
ICYMI: Hometown California Gets Up Close with Rich Gordon, California Forestry Association President and CEO

Wildfire Emergency Act

On Wednesday, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla along with Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel) introduced the Wildfire Emergency Act, a bill with the goal of reducing catastrophic wildfires in the West.  The Wildfire Emergency Act has three primary provisions: forest restoration projects; critical infrastructure and energy flexibility; and, research, training and disadvantaged communities.  RCRC Senior Regulatory Affairs Advocate Staci Heaton was quoted in the press release in support of the legislation. “RCRC has continually advocated for a commonsense approach toward reducing the effects and severity of wildfires that have plagued California over the past decade. This bill would work to accomplish this objective by encouraging landscape scale projects to reduce wildfire risk in federal forests, involving the non-profit sector in addressing forest health and resilience, building a more robust forest workforce, creating opportunities for disadvantaged communities to benefit from land stewardship activities, and creating more resilient communities and energy grids.”  The House bill is also co-sponsored by RCRC’s California Delegation Representatives John Garamendi (D-Wlanut Grove), Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), Jim Costa (D-Fresno), and Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena).

Bill of the Week: SB 493 (Bradford) – Local Government Financing: Juvenile Justice

In a joint letter last month, Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), Urban Counties of California (UCC), and California State Association of Counties (CSAC) expressed opposition to Senate Bill 493 by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). This measure would redirect 95 percent of each county’s Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) funding to non-law enforcement public agencies and community-based organizations and revise the composition of local Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils. 

The redirection of JJCPA funds in SB 493 would severely impact counties as these funds are often dedicated to staffing and personnel costs that make up the backbone of our juvenile probation departments. JJCPA, along with various other local assistance services and programs, were statutorily incorporated into the 2011 Public Safety Realignment fiscal structure, where it now is guaranteed a minimum level of Vehicle License Fee (VLF) funding and enjoys constitutional protections approved in Proposition 30 (2012). While counties are not opposed to evaluating ways to improve JJCPA reporting and the structure of local coordinating councils, this measure would destabilize a stable, constitutionally protected funding structure when counties are assuming vast new responsibilities on the juvenile justice continuum.

RCRC is pleased to report that SB 493 was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 20, 2021, and is considered a dead bill. RCRC continues to prioritize advocacy efforts to ensure that constitutionally protected realignment funding for counties is preserved. The joint letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee may be viewed here. For additional information, contact Sarah Dukett by email or call 916-447-4806.

Watch Now! Resources for Local Governments, Hosted by Treasurer Fiona Ma

On Wednesday, RCRC presented a webinar hosted by California Treasurer Fiona Ma entitled Resources for Local Governments. The webinar was a discussion of 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 was joined by professional staff from each of the programs presented. To learn more, view the webinar here.

Senate and Assembly Appropriations Suspense Files

Friday, May 21, 2021, marked the last day for fiscal committees to meet and either pass or hold fiscal bills which had been placed on the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees’ Suspense Files this legislative session.  Several hundred bills were addressed on the Suspense Files, and the following are of particular interest to RCRC:


Bills Held in Appropriations Committees
Assembly Bill 377 (R. Rivas) would have established new state water quality standards more stringent and difficult to enforce than current state water quality rules.

Assembly Bill 1434 (Friedman) would have significantly accelerated the schedule for reducing indoor residential domestic water use standards by 2030.

Senate Bill 223 (Dodd) would have prohibited small community water system operators from discontinuing service in cases of nonpayment. 


Bills Passed in Appropriations Committees
Assembly Bill 32 (Aguiar-Curry) would make permanent telehealth flexibilities enacted during the pandemic, including payment parity for Audio-only visits. RCRC is in support of this measure.  

Assembly Bill 37 (Berman) would make California a statewide universal vote-by-mail state.

Assembly Bill 252 (R. Rivas) would establish the Multibenefit Land Repurposing Incentive Program at Dept. of Conservation for compensating landholders converting ag-producing lands into other specified uses in order to meet local groundwater sustainability plans.

Assembly Bill 428 (Mayes), which would require that term limits imposed on county boards of supervisors be for no fewer than two terms, passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

Assembly Bill 431 (Patterson), which would extend timber harvest plan exemptions for tree removal activities done to comply with state defensible space requirements, passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assembly Bill 754 (Mathis) would authorize Dept. of Water Resources to extend the statutory deadline for submitting high- and medium-priority basin plans by up to 180 days.

Assembly Bill 1139 (Gonzalez) seeks to replace the existing net energy metering tariff for rooftop solar with a new tariff under which utilities will pay the owners of rooftop solar far less for the energy produced by those systems.  AB 1139 seeks to address substantial cost shifting between solar and non-solar utility customers, but in doing so will substantially increase electrical bills for solar customers.  The bill also deems all rooftop solar projects to be “public works” projects for which prevailing wages must be paid.

Assembly Bill 1346 (Berman and Gonzalez) would require the California Air Resources Board to adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations by July 1, 2022 on new small off-road engines produced after January 1, 2024 to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions. Small off-road engines include lawn, garden and outdoor power equipment at or below 19 kilowatts.

Assembly Bill 1431 (Frazier), an RCRC sponsored bill that would codify various portions of the 2018 California Forest Carbon Plan, passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

Senate Bill 37 (Cortese) eliminates the ability to use a “common sense exemption” under the California Environmental Quality Act for any projects undertaken at over 40,000 sites throughout the state that appear on the Cortese List of currently or formerly contaminated properties.  The bill will require discretionary projects with no environmental impact at those locations (including many local corp yards, fire stations, airports, etc.) to undergo an initial assessment and prepare a negative declaration.  RCRC has major concerns with the bill and is working with the author to address those problems. 

Senate Bill 38 (Wieckowski) replaces the existing Beverage Container Recycling Program (Bottle Bill) with a new recycling program administered by beverage container manufacturers, requires all retailers with over $4 million in annual sales to redeem consumer beverage containers, increases the CRV from $0.05 to $0.10 per container, and repeals the $10.5 million annually set aside for payments to cities and counties to address recycling and litter.  While RCRC is strongly supportive of efforts to increase consumer redemption opportunities, RCRC objects to doubling the CRV and repealing city/county payments and so has an “Oppose unless Amended” position on the bill.

Senate Bill 99 (Dodd) establishes a new grant program at the Energy Commission to help local governments develop and implement community energy resilience plans and expedite the permitting of projects to improve local energy reliability.  RCRC is strongly supportive of SB 99 and has been an active participant in refining the bill to better accomplish the author’s objectives.

Senate Bill  335 (Cortese) would substantially cuts the amount of time available to California employers to review whether claimed workplace injuries are, in fact, related to work. For most claims the investigation period is reduced from 90 to 45 days. For claims covered by legal presumptions the investigation period is reduced even further to 30 days. This measure is problematic for public agencies and RCRC working in with California employers coalition in opposition to the bill. 

Senate Bill 552 (Hertzberg) would, among other provisions, would require counties to establish a County Drought Task Force, or enact an equivalent drought emergency response plan.

Senate Bill 533 (Stern) requires utilities to discuss in their Wildfire Mitigation Plans efforts to improve their electrical systems, focused on those areas and assets that have been deenergized the greatest number of times.  RCRC is strongly supporting SB 533 as a way to ensure that PSPS events are phased out as utilities upgrade their electrical systems.

Please contact the RCRC Government Affairs staff at (916) 447-4806 with any questions.

Sonoma, Shasta and Tehama Counties Reach Agreement With PG&E on Kincade and Zogg Wildfire Claims

On Wednesday, an agreement was reached to settle local government civil claims against PG&E for the 2019 Kincade Fire and the 2020 Zogg Fire. A total of $43.36 million will be made to ten public entities, which include Sonoma, Shasta and Tehama counties. The 2019 Kincaid Fire ravaged over 120 square miles in Sonoma County, destroying 374 structures, injuring four people and took 13 days to contain. The 2020 Zogg Fire burned over 80 square miles in Shasta and Tehama counties, destroying 204 structures, killing four people and injuring 1, and took 16 days to contain. The cause of both fires are still under investigation.

Rural Jobs Act Introduced

Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Rural Jobs Act, legislation that would build on the success of the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) by bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment to some of the most disadvantaged rural communities in America. The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to designate $1 billion in NMTC investments for Rural Job Zones—defined as areas with less than 50,000 residents and are not urbanized areas adjacent to a city or town—collectively for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Under this definition, Rural Job Zones would be established in 342 out of the 435 Congressional districts across the U.S.

Biden Administration Advances Offshore Wind Off California Coast

On Tuesday, Secretary of the U.S. Interior Deb Haaland, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl, and Governor Gavin Newsom announced an agreement to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California.  This milestone is part of the Biden Administration’s goal to create thousands of jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.  The U.S. Department of the Interior has identified an area northwest of Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County as well as an area near Humboldt County as potential Wind Energy Areas. 

ICYMI: Hometown California Gets Up Close with Rich Gordon, California Forestry Association President and CEO

On the newest episode of Hometown California, Paul A. Smith sits down for an up-close interview 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 of service in California. Learn what sparked his interest in getting involved with public education and public policy making, when he ran (and won) a seat on the San Mateo County Board of Education—his first elected position. After 13 years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, find out why Rich still describes it as "the best electoral job in California." Find out what motivated him to become President of one of RCRC’s sister organizations, the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), and hear about highlights of his leadership years.Listen to hear about how Rich fell in love with rural California, went on to serve in the California State Assembly, and so much more. His fascinating journey, from his first elected position nearly 20 years ago to his current role, will give you a glimpse of how his experiences have impacted Rich Gordon's understanding of California’s rural counties. Listen now.


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


State Air Board Launches Smoke Spotter App

On Wednesday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) launched the Smoke Spotter app, a new, first-of-its-kind application to help California residents know when a prescribed fire is happening in their area so that they can prepare for the associated smoke impacts. The app provides information to help educate the public on prescribed fire, its positive impacts on forest resilience and how to prepare for the related smoke, including:

  • Location, size, and burn status;

  • 24-hour statewide smoke forecasts;

  • Personalized alerts that notify users when a prescribed fire will be burning nearby (notifications can be set for multiple locations);

  • Current Air Quality Index (AQI) data to help users make health-based decisions; and,

  • Additional information on prescribed fire, its benefits, and how users can protect themselves from smoke.

The app is part of the state’s overall strategy to improve the health and resilience of California’s forests and wildlands, and will be integrated with the work of the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force to encourage increased use of prescribed fire to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The app is available for download in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. For more information, see CARB’s announcement here.


California Opportunity Zone Site Updates

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) released a comprehensive update to the California Opportunity Zone site.  The new site features a multitude of funding opportunities, resources, best practices, and tools to support economic and business development in economically-distressed communities. For a list of site updates, see 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.


Alpine County Seeks Assistant Auditor-Controller

The County of Alpine is seeking an Assistant Auditor-Controller.  The position is open until filled. To apply or for additional information, visit the Alpine County website here.


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 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.


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.


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. 


Brent Jamison, 46, of Rocklin, has been reappointed Deputy Director of the California Department of General Services Interagency Support Division, where he has served in that position since 2014. Jamison was Chief of the Department of General Services Office of Fleet and Asset Management from 2011 to 2014. He was Deputy Secretary of Policy and Planning at the California State and Consumer Services Agency from 2009 to 2010 and Assistant Deputy Director of Legislation at the California Department of Consumer Affairs in 2009. Jamison served in multiple positions at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research from 2004 to 2009, including Deputy Director of Legislation, Assistant Deputy Director and Senior Legislative Analyst. He was a Law Clerk at the Law Offices of Dan Brace in 2003 and at the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division from 2001 to 2002. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $155,004. Jamison is registered without party preference.
Jason Kenney, 36, of Roseville, has been reappointed Deputy Director of the Real Estate Services Division at the Department of General Services, where he has served in that position since 2018. Kenney held several positions at the Department of General Services from 2016 to 2018, including Assistant Deputy Director, Chief of the Project Management and Development Branch and Deputy Director of Strategic Planning. He was Chief of the Business Management Branch at the Department of State Hospitals from 2014 to 2015, where he was Chief of the Acquisitions and Business Services Office from 2013 to 2014. Kenney was Asset Management Manager at the California Department of Motor Vehicles from 2011 to 2013, where he was an Associate Governmental Program Analyst from 2010 to 2011 and a Staff Services Analyst from 2009 to 2010. He was a Staff Services Analyst at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from 2008 to 2009, where he was an Office Technician in 2008. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $185,268. Kenney is registered without party preference.
Zackery P. Morazzini, 48, of West Sacramento, has been reappointed Director of the Office of Administrative Hearings at the Department of General Services, where he has served in that position since 2015. Morazzini was General Counsel at the California Fair Political Practices Commission from 2011 to 2015. He served in several positions at the California Department of Justice from 2001 to 2011, including Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and Graduate Legal Scholar. Morazzini was an Attorney at Martinez and Kaminski from 2000 to 2001 and at the Pacific Legal Foundation from 1999 to 2000. He earned Master of Laws and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $186,084. Morazzini is a Republican.

Angela Shell, 46, of Wheatland, has been reappointed Chief Procurement Officer at the Department of General Services, where she has served in that position since 2017. Shell served in several positions at the Department of Transportation from 1998 to 2017, including Division Chief and Chief Procurement Officer in the Division of Procurement and Contracts, Assistant Director of the Office of Business and Economic Opportunity, Chief of the Office of Construction Support, Labor Compliance Program Manager and Labor Compliance Program Analyst. She was an Office Technician at the California Department of Insurance from 1996 to 1998 and an Office Assistant at the Contractors State License Board from 1994 to 1996. She is a directorate member of the National Association of State Procurement Officials and board member of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $185,628. Shell is a Republican. 


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.