The Barbed Wire - September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020
Census 2020 Enters the Final Days: Help Get the Word Out for a Complete Count of Rural California
Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1159 (Hill) - Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19: Critical Workers
Hometown California and the 2020 National Election: The Race for the White House, Battle for Control of the U.S. Senate, and What’s in Play for the House of Representatives
President Trump Visits California to See Wildfires
Senator Feinstein’s Wildfire Legislation
Coronavirus Relief Negotiations
Government Funding Legislation to Avoid a Shutdown

Census 2020 Enters the Final Days: Help Get the Word Out for a Complete Count of Rural California

As the U.S. Census Count enters the final days, there is still concern about the level of responses from the rural communities within California. With all that our residents face, especially now with active fires, we need your help to spread the word so residents do not miss their chance to be counted. With the Census Count ending September 30th, the best way to respond is online or by phone. It is going to require all-hands-on-deck to help ensure a complete count of rural California.

Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Send an email blast to your networks, and encourage others to do the same (Download template here)
  2. Post on social media (Download graphics and a media toolkit here)
  3. Share digital or printed in-language flyers with community members and their families (Available here)
  4. Spread information about how to complete the census


Phone  (844) 330-2020

Mail  Return your paper Census form you received in the mail


Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1159 (Hill) - Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19: Critical Workers

Throughout the 2020 Legislative Session, RCRC and a large coalition of stakeholders expressed strong concerns with efforts to provide enhanced workers’ compensation benefits to persons who are not classified as public safety personnel in light of COVID-19.  A number of legislative measures were put forth to provide a worker with a rebuttable presumption when claiming a COVID-19 illness. As such, Senate Bill 1159, authored by Senator Jerry Hill (D- San Mateo), was put forth as the primary legislative measure to make changes to the workers’ compensation system, including a rebuttable presumption. Initially, RCRC joined a coalition to raise concerns about the costs of the enhanced benefit and the functionality of the outbreak-based presumption trigger contained in SB 1159.

The coalition requested changes to address these specific concerns with SB 1159. The amendments offered by the coalition attempted to address the significant administrative burden for employers while leaving the fundamental policy direction of the bill intact. Even though these amendments were not incorporated, SB 1159 easily secured passage in the Legislature. And, on Thursday, SB 1159 was signed into law by Governor Newsom.

Hometown California and the 2020 National Election: The Race for the White House, Battle for Control of the U.S. Senate, and What’s in Play for the House of Representatives

Hometown California is kicking off the 2020 Election season with Leah Askarinam, Hotline Editor-in-Chief of the National Journal in Washington D.C. in a three-part series focused on the November National Election.

In the first episode, our host, Paul A. Smith, speaks with Leah about the 2020 Race for the White House. Examining polling trends and the current national climate, Leah and Paul provide a state-by-state look at the Electoral College and discuss the likelihood of President Trump's ability to win the White House and whether President Trump could lose the popular vote and still win the presidency. As you listen in to this insightful conversation, grab a pen and paper if you want to keep up with the math of the election map. You can download a printable election map here. (Download episode)

Released today, the second episode in the series examines the battle for control of the United States Senate, with special focus on key races happening in California. (Download now)

Subscribe today on your favorite podcast service so you don’t miss the series conclusion when Leah and Paul discuss what’s in play for the House of Representatives.

For more about the National Journal, check it out on the web here:

President Trump Visits California to See Wildfires

On Monday, President Trump traveled to California to receive a briefing on the response efforts to the recent wildfires engulfing the state and region. President Trump blamed the devastation on a failure of state officials to manage their forests and cast doubt on the science on climate change and its role in exacerbating the fires. During his visit, the President argued that forest mismanagement was the primary culprit for catastrophic fires in recent years, telling officials they should "clean" the forest floors to safeguard forests from dry leaves and fallen, "explosive" trees that ignite "like a matchstick." Washington Governor Jay Inslee provided a stark counter opinion to the President for his comments redirecting blame for the wildfires away from climate change, “it is maddening right now that when we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, with the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that ... these are climate fires."

Senator Feinstein’s Wildfire Legislation

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing that included Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 (S. 4431). The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senator Feinstein and Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana), would help protect communities from catastrophic wildfires by implementing wildfire mitigation projects, sustaining healthier forests that are more resilient to climate change and providing important energy and retrofitting assistance to businesses and residences to mitigate future risks from wildfire. During the Committee hearing, Senator Daines stressed the importance of passing the bill, stating “we are at a critical time. The West is burning. People are dying. And our way of life as we know it is in danger… My bill with Senator Feinstein offers 53 pages worth of solutions." Senator Daines also thanked first responders, law enforcement, fire officials and more for their work battling the fires across the West, and he held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives because of the fires. RCRC has indicated its strong support for Senator Feinstein’s legislation. The RCRC support letter can be viewed here.

Coronavirus Relief Negotiations

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of about 50 lawmakers in the House of Representatives unveiled their own coronavirus (COVID-19) relief plan in a new effort to revive coronavirus stimulus negotiations. The Problem Solvers Caucus, comprised of centrist Democrats and Republicans, proposed a $1.52 trillion package, though up to $2 trillion could be available if coronavirus conditions worsen. The “March to Common Ground” proposal includes another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, $100 billion for COVID-19 testing, $500 billion for state and local governments, $15 billion for the United States Postal Service, and $12 billion for broadband hotspots in underserved communities. The package also includes supplemental unemployment insurance at $450 per week for the first eight weeks, then provide up to $600 per week after that but capped at 100 percent of a person’s salary. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) reiterated on Tuesday that Democrats should stand firm in their funding demands and said she could agree to a $2.2 trillion package but would go no lower.

Additionally, Speaker Pelosi said on Wednesday that the House should remain in session until lawmakers can strike a bipartisan agreement on new coronavirus relief. Meanwhile, the Senate is currently scheduled to leave after the first week of October. But Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-South Dakota) suggested Tuesday that the Senate could leave earlier if it passes a continuing resolution next week to fund the government past September 30th and if COVID-19 talks remain at an impasse.

Government Funding Legislation to Avoid a Shutdown

The main order of congressional business for the remainder of September is to enact a continuing resolution (CR) – an extension of current government funding – before funding expires at the end of this fiscal year on September 30th. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said he would like the House of Representatives to pass a CR next week, giving the U.S. Senate up to a full week to vote on the bill. House Democratic leadership and the Trump Administration have agreed to keep the CR clean of controversial policy provisions – a “clean CR” - including pandemic relief. Funding for most programs will be frozen at current levels, but the big decision remaining is how long the extension will last. It is largely believed that the extension will likely last until around December 18th, but some Democrats are pushing to have the extension last until Spring, leaving it to a new Congress and possibly a new Administration to finalize fiscal year 2021 funding levels.


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

CPUC to Hold Public Forum on Frontier Communications Bankruptcy

On Wednesday, October 7th, the CPUC is holding two public meetings on Frontier Communication’s bankruptcy application, a process that must undergo CPUC approval. One workshop will be held from 10am to 4:30pm (see here) to discuss the bankruptcy proceeding, and a public forum will be held in the evening from 5:30pm to 6:30pm for public comment, see here. The CPUC is specifically requesting input from the public and Frontier customers and would like to know the following:

  • Your experience with Frontier's services and service terms
  • Knowledge of other service providers offering service where you live or work
  • Experience with services from these other service providers
  • Concerns with your ability to access emergency services
  • Suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for resolving concerns, difficulties, hardship, etc.
  • Potential impact to your communities
  • Type of information that the Commission should consider in assessing Frontier's long-term viability
  • Information regarding successes and/or failures with other restructuring deals and their impact to customers/the public after 1-3 years

Public input will help the CPUC determine whether Frontier's request for a transfer of control is in the public's interest, and what, if any, conditions should be included. Written public comments may also be submitted at any time here. For more information on this issue, please see here.


Rail Safety Precautions That Save Lives, Raising Community Awareness

September 21-27, 2020 is Rail Safety Week. Led by Operation Lifesaver, this annual event educates and spreads awareness about the importance of taking precautions around trains.

Even though safety is the number one commitment between industry, roads managers and municipal first responders, rail tragedies still occur. Last year, in California, there were 189 deaths related to pedestrian trespassing and grade-crossings. Increasing community awareness, and safety education continue to be the best strategies for preventing rail tragedies. In a recent blog post, Operation Lifesaver sheds light on the issue and provides tips to keep drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists safe when encountering rail crossings.

For materials or information about how your community can participate in Rail Safety Week, see here.


Application Deadline Extended for Community Development Block Grant Program

Due to recent wildfires, the California Department of Housing and Community Development has amended the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Response Round 1 (CDBG-CV1) , extending the application deadline from August 31, 2020 to September 21, 2020.

Funding for this NOFA is made available pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Funding is available on an allocation basis for eligible non-entitlement jurisdictions, and will serve the same jurisdictions as the state administered CDBG program.

The CDBG-CV1 funding provides support for communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with various types of assistance, including:

  • Businesses and microenterprises/Economic development
  • Public services
  • Acquisition of real property to be used for treatment or recovery of infectious diseases
  • Medical and homeless facility improvements

Applications are being accepted through HCD’s online Grants Network, eCivis. Find more information on the CDBG Website and send questions to


HCD Announces Help for Those Affected by Northern California Wildfires in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties

On August 22, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the White House approved California's request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the state's emergency response to wildfires burning in Northern California and support impacted residents in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties.

This declaration helps people in those counties through support and services that includes:

  • Crisis counseling
  • Housing and unemployment assistance
  • Legal services

If you sustained losses from the Northern California fires in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, or Yolo Counties, you can now apply for assistance.

To begin the process:

  1. Apply online with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) OR
  2. Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY).

HCD encourages the use of online applications whenever possible. For additional information and important details, see the entire HCD announcement here.


CARB to Host Regulatory Training for Public Agencies

The California Air Resources Board will be hosting a  compliance overview of the Truck and Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment on October 8, 2020. 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:            October 8, 2020
TIME:             1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:     Register


Bureau of Reclamation Seeks Public Input on Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement About Proposal to Raise Shasta Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public input on the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) related to the proposal to raise the 600-foot-tall Shasta Dam by 3% (or an additional 18.5 feet). This proposed project would increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet or more than 200 billion gallons—enough water to support two million people a year. The resulting dedicated environmental storage is anticipated to improve water quality in the Sacramento River below the dam by lowering water temperatures for anadromous fish survival, such as Chinook salmon and other fish that migrate from the ocean to rivers to spawn.

The supplemental EIS provides information relevant to Reclamation’s application of Clean Water Act Section 404(r), updates modeling to be reflective of the 2019 Biological Opinions, and provides an updated analysis on effects to the McCloud River. View the Draft Supplemental EIS here. Submit comments to David Brick, Bureau of Reclamation, CGB-152, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825, via telephone at 916-202-7158 (TTY 1-800-877-8339) or via email at dbrick@usbr.govComments are due by close of business on September 21, 2020.


State Water Board Now Accepting SAFER Advisory Group Applications

The State Water Board is now accepting applications for the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group, which provides the State Water Board with advice on the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Expenditure Plan and other SAFER-related policies. Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2020.

There are 10 seats open for the 2020 application period. Applicants will be selected and notified by Winter 2020. County resource staff and other interested parties are encouraged to apply. The electronic application form is available on the SAFER Advisory Group website here.

The SAFER Advisory Group website will be updated with tools and resources regularly, so keep checking the website for more information.


HCD Announces the Release of the Homekey Notice of Funding Availability

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has announced the release of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $600 million in Homekey funds. The grant funding is available to cities, counties , or other local public entities within California to purchase and rehabilitate housing, as well as hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other buildings and convert them into interim or permanent, long-term housing. Prior to submitting an application, all applicants are required to engage in a pre-application consultationAll applications are due by September 29, 2020. Visit the Homekey webpage to learn more.


Career Opportunities

  • Colusa County Seeks Assistant Director of Public Works/Road Commissioner

The county of Colusa is accepting applications for the position of Assistant Director of Public Work/Road Commissioner. The position is open until filled. Details are available here.


Resource pages, deadline extensions, and available programs to assist communities impacted by COVID-19.

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.

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.


Assembly Bill 995 (Garcia): Hazardous Waste. Assembly Bill 995 creates a new governance structure for the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and increases a wide variety of fees to partially offset DTSC’s fiscal imbalance. Specifically, AB 995 establishes a new board to oversee and establish goals for DTSC’s operation and consider appeals from permit decisions. AB 995 requires the state to establish a task force to make recommendations on changes to the existing fees and taxes that fund DTSC’s operations and the cleanup of contaminated sites. Status: AB 995 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Status: Concerns


Assembly Bill 1080 (Gonzalez)/Senate Bill 54 (Allen): Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction. Assembly Bill 1080/SB 54 would have required the state to reduce the waste associated with single use packaging and products 75 percent by 2030, requires the state to set standards for what is considered recyclable and compostable, and promotes the development of in-state manufacturing that uses recycled materials. Status: AB 1080 and SB 54 failed passage when the Legislative clock ran out of time for their consideration. RCRC Status: Support


Assembly Bill 2421 (Quirk): Emergency Standby Generators. Assembly Bill 2421 requires local agencies to make the installation of an emergency standby generator within the physical footprint of a macro cell tower site that meets specified requirements a permitted use subject only to local agency administrative review. Status: AB 2421 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Status: Support


Assembly Bill 2459 (Bigelow): Alcoholic Beverage Licenses: County of Mariposa. Assembly Bill 2459 would authorize the Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue up to 10 additional new original on sale alcoholic beverage licenses to bona fide public eating places in Mariposa County that have a seating capacity for 50 or more persons. Status: AB 2459 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Status: Support/Co-Sponsor


Senate Bill 68 (Galgiani): Hazardous Waste: Treated Wood Waste. SB 68 repeals the sunset date for the existing regulatory framework for disposal of treated wood waste. Without this change, there will be very limited disposal options for treated wood wastes, thereby significantly increasing management and disposal costs associated with those wastes. Status: SB 68 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position: Support


Senate Bill 182 (Jackson): Local Government: Planning and Zoning: Wildfires. SB 182 creates a structure of increased fire risk strategies to be used by local governments to plan and permit for housing development in a VHFRA, defined as state, local and locally designated Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHSZ). This bill adds reducing development pressure in VHFRA as an objective of the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) plan through considering allocating a lower portion of housing to a jurisdiction, if appropriate, due to the risk to life and safety to catastrophic wildfire. Status: SB 182 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Status: Support


Senate Bill 1159 (Hill): Workers Compensation: Coronavirus. Senate Bill 1159 would provide enhanced workers’ compensation presumption benefits for coronavirus infections. Status: SB 1159 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Status: Oppose