The Barbed Wire - November 3, 2023

November 3, 2023
RCRC Chair Doug Teeter Speaks in Sacramento at 5-Year Anniversary Remembrance of 2018 Camp Fire
RCRC to Host Webinar on Significant Labor and Land Use Changes Coming in 2024
CPUC Holds Webinar on Rail Safety Oversight, Accident Investigations, Trespassing, and Public Safety
Bill to Exempt All Wildfire Relief Payments from Federal Income Taxes Passes Out of Ways and Means
Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act Reintroduced in Congress
President Biden Announces Over $5 Billion to Support Rural Communities

RCRC Chair Doug Teeter Speaks in Sacramento at 5-Year Anniversary Remembrance of 2018 Camp Fire

RCRC Chair, Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter, was in Sacramento on Thursday for an event on the West Steps of the State Capitol, reflecting on the 5-year anniversary of Butte County’s 2018 Camp Fire. Recognized as the “deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history”, with 85 lives lost and “untold residential and commercial structures lost”, participants gathered today to share about recovery efforts and recognize those who played a key role in those efforts.  

In the company of Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, Treasurer Fiona Ma; local Butte County staff, leaders, and heroes; and many others, Chair Teeter spoke of the impact to the counties. He acknowledged that while Paradise is the most widely known area devastated by the Camp Fire, several other communities faced the same danger in the tragedy, and challenges in the recovery including Magalia, Concow, Yankee Hill, Butte Creek Canyon, and Butte Valley. Supervisor Teeter praised Butte County Planning, the staff, and the community of Magalia for the area’s General Plan Update, dubbed the “Upper Ridge Community Plan”, which received a National American Planning Association award. Supervisor Teeter extended gratitude to the staff of Butte County, who provided support for the county and its residents in the face of the devastation and in the recovery efforts, first from the 2018 Camp Fire, followed in 2020 by the North Complex Fire, and then the Dixie Fire in 2021. The event was livestreamed from the capitol steps and can be viewed on YouTube. Chair Teeters comments begin at 24:45 here

For information about RCRC’s advocacy efforts surrounding wildfire mitigation, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Staci Heaton

RCRC to Host Webinar on Significant Labor and Land Use Changes Coming in 2024

Join RCRC on Thursday, November 9th at 1pm for a webinar titled: “Significant Labor and Land Use Changes Coming in 2024".

During this past legislative session, the State of California passed a number of labor and land use bills that are expected to significantly impact California’s counties in 2024. This webinar is intended to assist counties in preparing for these legislative changes, focusing on four key bills: 

  • Assembly Bill 1633 (the Housing and Accountability Act);  
  • Assembly Bill 338 (Fuel Reduction Work); 
  • Assembly Bill 1484 (Temporary Public Employees; and  
  • Senate Bill 525 (Minium Wage for Healthcare Workers) 

Attendees will receive an overview of the new laws and a discussion of the potential impacts for local government, followed by an opportunity for participant questions.

Register Here

CPUC Holds Webinar on Rail Safety Oversight, Accident Investigations, Trespassing, and Public Safety

On October 18th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held a webinar on rail safety in California featuring a discussion led by CPUC Rail Safety Division Director, Roger Clugston on rail safety oversight, accident investigations, trespassing, and public safety. The webinar was intended for local government representatives and officials with rail lines in their communities. Director Clugston provided an overview of the division’s regulatory and enforcement work on railways, as well as the bridges and tunnels that convey rail traffic, including rail crossing funding programs.  

Applications for Priority List grade separation projects for Fiscal Years 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 closed on October 20, 2023. The CPUC conducts an investigation every two years to determine the Priority List to finance grade separation at-grade crossings of local roads or state highways for the next two fiscal years.  

The Rail Safety Division also continues to study public safety issues associated with trespassing from homeless encampments and individuals along railroad tracks and rail property. Along with personal risks to the homeless individuals, these encampments can create maintenance hazards of train equipment affecting safe operations.  

To access the webinar’s recording, see here. More information on the CPUC’s Rail Safety Division can be found here. For questions, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate Leigh Kammerich or Sidd Nag.

Bill to Exempt All Wildfire Relief Payments from Federal Income Taxes Passes Out of Ways and Means

On November 2nd, the House Ways and Means Committee passed a disaster tax package, which includes the Protect Innocent Victims of Taxation After Fire Act (H.R. 4970) co-authored by Congressmen Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena). The bill excludes from gross income, for income tax purposes, any amount received after 2019 and before 2026 by an individual taxpayer as a qualified wildfire relief payment. The bill defines such payment as compensation for expenses or losses incurred as a result of a federally declared forest or range fire disaster. It now moves to the House floor for consideration.

Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act Reintroduced in Congress

On November 2nd, a bicameral, bipartisan group of U.S. Congress Members reintroduced the Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act to address pay issues for federal firefighters. Currently, federal firefighters working for the Departments of Agriculture and Interior are subject to a pay cap for overtime hours during wildfire season, which often results in them not being compensated for their hard work. The legislation aims to waive premium pay caps for federal firefighters engaged in battling wildfires, allowing them to receive fair compensation for their efforts. The current pay cap discourages experienced firefighters from responding to wildfires, impacting federal wildfire response capabilities, especially later in the fire season.  The bill also requires the Departments of Agriculture and Interior to submit a report outlining the resources, policies, personnel changes, and investments needed to support an expanded, year-round firefighting workforce. 

The reintroduction of the Act was led by Senator Alex Padilla and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). Co-sponsors include California Representatives Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena); Jared Huffman (D-Marina); Scott Peters (D-La Jolla); Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley); Katie Porter (D-Irvine); and Colorado Representative Joe Neguse (D). Original co-sponsors include Missouri Senators Steve Daines (R) and Jon Tester (D); New Mexico Senators Ben Ray Luján (D) and Martin Heinrich (D); Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen (D); and California Assembly Members Ted Lieu (D-Torrance); Julia Brownley (D-Oakpark); Nanette Barragán (D-Hermosa Beach); Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). 

President Biden Announces Over $5 Billion to Support Rural Communities

On November 1st, President Biden visited Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Minnesota, as part of the Investing in Rural America Event Series. During the visit, he announced over $5 billion in new investments to support rural prosperity, economic development, competition, and sustainability. For more information, view the factsheet here


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


November Discussion on Williamson Act Key Topics with the Department of Conservation

Join Department of Conservation staff for a monthly discussion on key topics under the Williamson Act. County staff and members of the public are invited to these hour-long, virtual sessions where staff from DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection (DLRP) discuss select topics, provide technical assistance, and invite questions on Williamson Act implementation. The remaining session in 2023 is scheduled for November 16th and will be an Open Question Hour. For questions, contact For more information, please visit


ReCover California Program for Homeowners Affected by the 2020 Disasters

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has launched its ReCoverCA Housing Programs for those affected by 2020 disasters. Homeowners who lost their single-family home or manufactured housing unit in a 2020 disaster or has mitigation or home-hardening needs on their property may be eligible for up to $500,000 to help rebuild, depending on unique housing needs. Some homeowners may also qualify for up to $50,000 for mitigation assistance, even if the home sustained no damage from the disasters. 

Eligible MID areas for ReCoverCA 2020 are:
•    FEMA DR-4558—Butte, Napa, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma Counties
•    FEMA DR-4569—Fresno, Los Angeles, Napa, Shasta, Siskiyou, and Sonoma Counties

To learn more about the program, eligibility details, and to apply, please visit the ReCoverCA website.


USDA Rural Development Disaster Grant Assistance in California - Upcoming Webinar

USDA Rural Development’s California team will highlight disaster assistance programs which are available to help rural and Tribal communities to restore community facilities and repair water infrastructure that was damaged by natural disasters in 2022. This webinar will provide rural leaders and potential applicants the opportunity to discuss specific projects and learn the application process.  

Date: Thursday, November 9, 2023
Time: 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. PST
Register here.  Registration is required.

Contact with any questions or requests. 


Career Opportunities

  • Yolo County is recruiting to fill its Deputy County Counsel II/III position. The recruitment is open until filled, with the initial application review date of October 13, 2023. The appointing authority will place the selected candidate at the appropriate class or salary level, depending on their background and experience. The salary range is $110,573 - $165,547 annually. Those interested in this opportunity can apply here.
  • Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District is seeking to fill the Assistant General Manager position. Learn more about this opportunity to join an irrigation district that is focused on customer service, modernization, and diversification to meet current and future challenges. Read the solicitation here. Visit the district website for more information.


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.

Rebecca Ramirez, of Davis, has been reappointed to the State 9-1-1 Advisory Board, where she has served since 2021. Ramirez has served as Interim Fire Chief for the Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District since 2023. She was Fire Chief for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Fire Department from 2020 to 2023 and for the City of Woodland Fire Department from 2017 to 2019. She held several positions for the City of West Sacramento Fire Department from 1993 to 2017, including Deputy Fire Chief, Division Chief, Battalion Chief, Captain, Engineer and Firefighter. Ramirez is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and California Fire Chiefs Association. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Columbia Southern University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Ramirez is a Democrat. 

Andrew White, of Dixon, has been reappointed to the State 9-1-1 Advisory Board, where he has served since 2021. White has been Police Chief for the City of Martinez since 2023. He was Police Chief for the City of Clearlake from 2018 to 2022. White was an Instructor and Scenario Evaluator at the Napa Valley College Criminal Justice Training Center from 2007 to 2022. He was Police Commander for the Suisun City Police Department from 2015 to 2018, and served in several sworn positions there from 2002 to 2015. White was a Dispatcher at the Napa Police Department from 2002 to 2004. He is a member of the California Police Chiefs Association. White earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management and Information Technology from Union Institute and University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. He is a Republican.


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.


California loses four more home insurance brands – San Francisco Chronicle

Four small insurers won't renew California home policies in 2024 due to a nationwide decision by their parent company, Kemper Corp., to exit the preferred personal lines market. Major insurers like Allstate and State Farm have cited increasing wildfire damage for their pullout decisions, but these companies, including Kemper Independence Insurance Co., Merastar, Unitrin Direct Property and Casualty Insurance Co., and Unitrin Auto and Home Insurance Co., have less than 1% of the homeowners insurance market share. They'll service existing policies but won't renew them, planning a full withdrawal from California by Feb. 28, 2025. The California Department of Insurance has attempted to bring more insurance options back to the state, with some criticism from advocacy groups.


Sites Reservoir project plans finalized – ABC 10

California's Sites Reservoir project has reached a significant milestone, with finalized plans for a reservoir that would be the second largest off-stream reservoir in the nation, increasing Northern California's water storage capacity by up to 15%. The project aims to deliver water primarily during dry periods and droughts. Situated about an hour north of Sacramento, the reservoir is expected to cost around $3.5 billion and is set to be completed by 2030 or 2031. The project's reduction from 1.9 million acre-feet to 1.5 million acre-feet came after an economic feasibility review. This initiative aims to enhance water resilience in the face of climate change.


State Continues to Advance Sustainable Groundwater Management with Release of 17 Basin Determinations – Department of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced decisions regarding groundwater sustainability plans for 17 non-critically overdrafted groundwater basins. This marks progress toward achieving long-term sustainability for these critical water sources, addressing water resiliency for communities and the environment. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) guides DWR in evaluating the plans to ensure they are based on the best available science and information. Plans for 12 basins were approved, while five were deemed incomplete due to deficiencies like lacking a clear overdraft elimination plan and land subsidence management. The GSAs in incomplete basins have 180 days to correct these deficiencies. DWR will continue to support local agencies in managing their groundwater basins sustainably.


California can require railroads to eliminate pollution, EPA decides – San Francisco Chronicle

California has won federal approval to enact a first-in-the-nation rule requiring railroads in the state to reduce, and eventually eliminate, harmful air pollution from their locomotives. The railroad industry is already challenging the proposed rule in court.