The Barbed Wire - November 12, 2021

November 12, 2021
Infrastructure/Reconciliation Update
California Redistricting Draft Maps Available for Public Input
House Passes Bill to Expand Internet Access
Senator Padilla Introduces Bills to Reform Federal Wildfire Disaster Response
Representative Garamendi Introduces Biomass and Biogas for Electric Vehicles Act

Infrastructure/Reconciliation Update

On Friday, November 5, 2021, the House passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (H.R. 3684 – The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) by a vote of 228-206, with 13 Republicans backing it despite GOP leadership exerting pressure on party members to vote against the bill. All but six Democrats voted for the measure following an intense evening of negotiations between House progressive and moderate Democrats, capped by a late-night intervention from President Biden to ultimately come to an agreement. President Biden is due to sign the bill into law once Congress returns from recess. 
Despite the success on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), was unable to secure a vote on the $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill that makes up much of the rest of President Biden’s domestic agenda. The House instead voted to approve a procedural measure, teeing-up a vote after the House returns the week of November 15th and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases its long-awaited cost analysis of the proposal. This concession was in response to a small group of moderates who refused to vote for the reconciliation package without the CBO score. Progressives also made a concession by supporting the infrastructure legislation before a vote on the larger spending package. 
The bipartisan infrastructure bill reauthorizes surface transportation and water programs for five years, adding $550 billion in new spending. It also includes $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects; $39 billion for transit and $66 billion for rail; $65 billion for broadband; $65 billion for the electric grid; $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure; and, $25 billion for airports.
Of particular significance to RCRC member-counties:

  • $40 billion of the broadband funding is designated to go to “Grants to States for Development” based on a “formula-based grant program.” 
  • Broadband projects would have a 100/20 megabits per second download/upload build standard.
  • The bill includes $2 billion for “Support for Rural Areas” administrated by the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as $600 million for states to issue Private Activity Bonds to finance broadband deployment specifically for projects in rural areas.
  • The bill extends the Secure Rural Schools program for three years. 

Click here to view a California-specific fact sheet released by the White House on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

California Redistricting Draft Maps Available for Public Input

On Wednesday, the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) announced the release of draft maps for the state’s Congressional, Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization districts ahead of the CA Supreme Court mandated November 15, 2021 deadline.

The Commission received a large collection of communities of interest testimony during the summer, considered how the testimony could inform boundaries, and incorporated public input into draft maps.

The Commission has developed the following Draft Map Public Input Meeting Schedule:

  • November 17, 2021—Congressional District Feedback
  • November 18, 2021—Assembly District Feedback
  • November 19, 2021—Senate District Feedback
  • November 20, 2021—Board of Equalization & Any District Feedback
  • November 22, 2021—Any District Feedback
  • November 23, 2021—Any District Feedback

The public is encouraged to provide feedback using this form:

Public input meeting appointments can be made here.

For more information, please visit

House Passes Bill to Expand Internet Access

Last week, the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act (H.R. 3193) passed the House by a vote of 410-16. The bill would make it easier for rural and impoverished communities to pursue broadband projects through Economic Development Administration grants, including difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment. The bill also ensures that local communities can partner with the private sector in carrying out broadband projects and gives communities more flexibility in complying with their funding match requirements. The Senate has yet to act on a bipartisan companion bill (S. 1695) introduced in May 2021.

Senator Padilla Introduces Bills to Reform Federal Wildfire Disaster Response

Last week, Senator Alex Padilla introduced two bills to “redesign the federal government’s response to wildfires and provide additional resources to ensure equity for communities experiencing natural disasters.” The first is the FIRE Act, which would make several changes to the Stafford Act that governs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) including examining ways to speed up the FEMA assistance process. The second is the Disaster Equity and Fairness Act, which would ensure that FEMA’s disaster preparedness and response efforts fully addresses emergency food and water needs following a disaster. In the Senate, the FIRE Act and the Disaster Equity and Fairness Act are co-sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein and in the House, the bills were introduced by Representatives Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), Jared Huffman (D- San Rafael), and Jimmy Panetta (D- Carmel Valley).

Representative Garamendi Introduces Biomass and Biogas for Electric Vehicles Act

On Monday, Representative John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) introduced the Biomass and Biogas for Electric Vehicles Act (H.R. 5899) which would allow biomass facilities generating renewable electricity to participate in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard program. 


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


CDFA Healthy Soils Program Incentives Funding Available

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has opened up their applications for the Healthy Soils Program (HSP) Incentives Funding! The funding is distributed on a first come-first serve basis so get your application in as soon as possible to participate. The HSP is currently accepting grant applications until February 25, 2022 or until funds are expended.

The HSP Incentives Program provides financial incentives to California growers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), and improve soil health.

Do you need help with the HSP application? 

Click here for more information about Healthy Soils Program 


Career Opportunities

  • Yolo County Seeks Sustainability Coordinator

Yolo County invites applications for the position of Sustainability Coordinator. The incumbent is responsible for the day-to-day effective operations and coordination of the County’s Sustainability Plan, Climate Action Plan, General Plan-related sustainability initiatives, and others as necessary.  The position closes December 6, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. For details and application instructions, see the job posting here.

  • Madera County Seeks Division Director of General Services

Madera County invites applications for the position of Division Director of General Services. The Division Director will direct, plan, organize, and coordinate multiple functional areas of the General Services Division of County Administration. The position closes November 16, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. For additional information, see the job bulletin here.

  • Tehama County Seeks Chief Administrator

Tehama County is seeking a Chief Administrator who will proactively and energetically serve as a leader in carrying out Board policies, and who will be creative in bringing forth options to solve problems. The position closes November 30, 2021 at 5 p.m. View the recruitment flyer, and for more information click here.

  • Yolo Land Trust Seeks Development and Outreach Coordinator

The Yolo Land Trust is recruiting for a Development & Outreach Coordinator to join its small, but mighty team. The position is responsible for the planning, coordination, and operation of the Yolo Land Trust’s development and communication programs; serves as the lead staff for the Land Trust’s community and fundraising events and for the digital communications about the organization; and provides administrative support as needed. For additional information or to apply, view the job announcement here. This position is open until filled.


California Air Resources Board Offers Webinars on Regulatory Compliance Training

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is offering a variety of training webinars for regulatory compliance on issues affecting public fleets such as Off-Road Regulations, Truck and Bus Rules, and Diesel Truck Rules. 

The In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets Regulation (Off-Road Regulation) requires fleet owners to report to CARB, label their off-road vehicles, and reduce emissions from older equipment.  This course provides detailed information to help fleet owners understand and comply with the Off-Road Regulation: 

Date:        December 9, 2021
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register

The Compliance Overview: Truck & Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment course include the following topics:

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

Advanced Clean Truck (ACT)

  • Manufacturers ZEV Sales Requirements
  • One-Time Reporting
  • Future ZEV Rules

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:        December 16, 2021
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register


GO-Biz Cannabis Equity Grants Available for Eligible Local Jurisdictions

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has announced $35 million is available in FY 2021-22 for eligible cities and counties to promote equity and eliminate barriers to populations and communities that were disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition. Local jurisdictions can be awarded up to $75,000 for assistance on cannabis equity program development, or up to $7 million for cannabis equity program applicants and licensees to gain entry to the state’s regulated cannabis marketplace. Grant applications must be received by December 13, 2021 and will be awarded no later than March 15, 2022. For more information on this grant and how to apply, see here


FEMA Announces Application Period for 2021 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began accepting applications on September 30, 2021 for $1.16 billion in FY 2021 Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants, providing localities the opportunity to receive Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grants. These grants recognize the growing hazards of extreme weather events and the need for risk mitigation activities to promote climate adaptation and resilience. The financial assistance through the BRIC program may fund state and local government pre-disaster capability and capacity building activities, mitigation projects, and cover management costs.

FEMA informational webinars can be accessed here, and more information can be viewed here or at The FEMA application period closes on January 28, 2022


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.


Mark Bontrager, of Napa, has been appointed to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. Bontrager has been Behavioral Health Administrator for the Partnership HealthPlan of California since 2021. He was Director of Regulatory Affairs and Program Development for the Partnership HealthPlan of California from 2018 to 2021 and Executive Director of Aldea Children and Family Services from 2007 to 2018, where he was Deputy Director from 2005 to 2007. Bontrager was an Attorney in private practice from 2002 to 2006 and held multiple positions at the Villages of Indiana Inc. from 1996 to 2003, including Program Manager, Therapist and Social Worker. Bontrager is vice chair of the Napa County Workforce Investment Board. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Indiana University School of Law and a Master of Social Work degree from the Indiana University School of Social Work. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Bontrager is registered without party preference.


Lauren C. Bowers, of Rancho Cordova, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the El Dorado County Superior Court. Bowers has served as a Deputy County Counsel at the El Dorado County Counsel’s Office since 2013. She was an Associate at the Law Office of Dale S. Wilson from 2005 to 2013 and an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law from 2007 to 2009. Bowers earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Warren C. Stracener. Bowers is a Democrat.


Philip H. Heithecker, of Chico, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Butte County Superior Court. Heithecker has been a Sole Practitioner since 2018. He was a Partner at Washington and Heithecker from 1996 to 2018, an Associate at Hermansen, Berglund and Washington from 1995 to 1996 and a Deputy District Attorney at the Butte County District Attorney's Office from 1992 to 1995. Heithecker  earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert A. Glusman. Heithecker is registered without party preference.


Karlene  M. Navarro, of Petaluma, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sonoma County Superior Court. Navarro has served as Director of the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach for the County of Sonoma since 2019. She was a Sole Practitioner from 2014 to 2019, serving as an Appellate Attorney for the Sixth District Appellate Program and the First District Appellate Project from 2016 to 2019 and as an Attorney for the Sonoma County Conflicts Panel. She was a Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law in 2018. Navarro served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Solano County Public Defender’s Office from 2010 to 2013, at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office from 2009 to 2010 and at the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office from 2007 to 2009. Navarro earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Allan D. Hardcastle. Navarro is a Democrat.