The Barbed Wire - September 28, 2018

September 28, 2018
RCRC President’s Award Presented to Carmel Angelo
RCRC Welcomes Sonoma County to Membership
Governor Brown Signs Landmark Forest Health Bill
FCC Approves Small Cell Siting Proposal
Congress Struggles to Pass the 2018 Farm Bill

RCRC President’s Award Presented to Carmel Angelo

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) announced that Carmel Angelo, Mendocino County Executive Officer, was recognized with the 2018 RCRC President’s Award for her work on behalf of California’s rural counties. Presented during RCRC’s Annual Meeting each September, the RCRC President’s Award was born out of the desire to publicly acknowledge individuals that take the time to go above and beyond their everyday roles to further advance the cause of California’s rural counties. Read More…

RCRC Welcomes Sonoma County to Membership

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) has added Sonoma County to its membership, bringing the total number of RCRC member counties to thirty-six.  The RCRC Board of Directors unanimously approved the addition at their meeting in Napa County last week.  Supervisor Lynda Hopkins will serve as the Delegate on the RCRC Board of Directors representing Sonoma County.  Read More…

Governor Brown Signs Landmark Forest Health Bill

Last Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 901 (Dodd), a comprehensive forest health bill aimed at reducing future wildfire risk and improving the condition of California’s forests and wildlands.  The contents of the bill originated in the Wildfire Preparedness and Response Conference Committee (Committee), a special committee convened to examine the practices and equipment of investor-owned utilities (IOUs) related to high-severity wildfires, and also to assess the ability of the IOUs to absorb their liability costs when found negligent in a destructive wildfire event.  At the urging of RCRC and other stakeholders, the Committee eventually turned its attention to general forest health issues. 

Championed largely by Assembly Members Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), the final legislation included several components to help manage and restore the state’s forest and wildlands, as well as a $1 billion investment from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund over the next five years for forest health programs.

The Governor also signed a number of additional measures connected to forest health and wildfire prevention, including Senate Bill 1260 (Jackson), a bill to encourage and empower the state to increase use of prescribed burning to promote more resilient forests, as well as Senate Bill 1079 (Monning), which allows for up to 25 percent advanced payment of grant funds from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for forest health projects to various agencies, including local governments.  The suite of bills represents a significant step forward for forest health and wildfire prevention policy in California.

The full list of forest health and wildfire legislation signed by the Governor can be accessed here.

FCC Approves Small Cell Siting Proposal

On Wednesday, by a 3-1 vote, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a policy that will impose new condensed timelines on state and local governments in the siting of small cell wireless facilities.  The FCC’s action also limits regulatory fees and leasing rates that states and local governments may assess for the placement of small cell facilities, as well as restrict the aesthetic review and requirements attached to the siting of these facilitates.  

This Declaratory Ruling and Third Report & Order (Order) will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.  RCRC submitted a letter of opposition to this proposal last week, joining the National Association of Counties (NACo) and other organizations in urging the FCC to disapprove this invasive policy that eliminates the ability of local governments to recoup funding for services and limits permissible local land use planning and review.  Additionally, RCRC refuted the arguments made by the telecommunication industry that capping leasing and permit fees in all jurisdictions will incentivize more building in a high-cost markets (i.e. rural areas).  Furthermore, the Order prohibits any “in-kind” requirements by local governments upon the telecommunications industry, such as a lower placement fee for facility siting in an urban area in exchange for deployment in an under-served area.

Challenges to the FCC’s decision are expected. The FCC’s press release can be accessed here.

Congress Struggles to Pass the 2018 Farm Bill

Negotiations between the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to craft a reauthorization of the Farm Bill remain at a standstill.  The major differences between each chambers’ versions of the 2018 Farm Bill have not, and will not, be reconciled by Sunday, September 30, 2018, when the 2014 Farm Bill expires.  However, Congress could agree upon a short-term extension despite comments made by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), one of the leaders of the negotiations, indicating that he hopes to avoid a temporary Farm Bill extension because it opens the door for more lobbyists and interest groups to influence the legislative process.  

The Farm Bill is sometimes referred to as an “omnibus” bill because it is a large, complicated piece of legislation that funds hundreds of programs for foresters, farmers, and other rural businesses.  The statutory language within the Farm Bill funds each program differently.  Some elements, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and federal crop insurance programs, receive mandatory funding that will continue without a new Farm Bill.  These programs have a permanent authorization from Congress, and will continue to operate.  Mandatory programs equate to a substantial portion of the Farm Bill and therefore some of the most popular programs in the legislation (namely SNAP and crop insurance) will continue to function which is why Congress is seemingly willing to allow the 2014 Farm Bill to expire without an extension.

The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills include hundreds of other important programs beyond SNAP and crop insurance.  Thirty-nine of these programs do not receive mandatory funding from Congress, and will expire when the new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2018.  Among these 39 are key rural development programs including:

  • Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance
  • Value-added Agricultural Product Market Development Grants
  • Pending Water and Waste Disposal Applications

Combined, these programs contribute $228 million annually to projects that spur economic development in rural America.  In addition, over $455 million in conservation funding will expire.  The Conservation Reservation Program will maintain funding but it will lose its legal authority to approve new contracts or issue new block grants.

Despite the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress is unlikely to resume negotiations until after the midterm elections on November 7, 2018.  Republican negotiators will attempt to finalize the 2018 Farm Bill in the lame duck session of Congress before January 1, 2019, but House Democrats are likely hold out if they take control of the lower house on election night.  Depending on how election night plays out, there is likely to be very little progress towards a new Farm Bill before 2019.


The Rural Rundown discusses the legislative and regulatory issues impacting California’s rural counties, featuring commentary and interviews from individuals committed to improving the quality of life in rural California. 

The Rural Rundown can be accessed here


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

Public Meeting for Residents Impacted by 2017-18 Wildfires, Mudflows, and Debris Flows

Click here


RCRC members are encouraged to share letters addressed to state and federal representatives and regulatory bodies with RCRC’s Government Affairs staff.  

Assembly Bill 1875 (Wood): Residential Property Insurance.  Assembly Bill 1875 would require an insurer to offer extended replacement cost coverage when issuing or renewing a policy of residential property insurance, and requires the insurer to disclose the premium costs for extended replacement cost coverage. Status: AB 1875 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1919 (Wood): Price Gouging: State of Emergency. Assembly Bill 1919 would make it a misdemeanor, upon proclamation or declaration of an emergency to increase the monthly rental price advertised, offered or charged for residential housing to an existing or prospective tenant by more than a specified percentage or greater than the rental price advertised, offered, or charged within 30 days immediately prior to the date of the proclamation or disaster. Status: AB 1919 has been signed into law by the Governor.  RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 1954 (Patterson): Timber Harvest Plans: Exemption: Flammable Materials. Assembly Bill 1954 would delete the inoperative date of an exemption from some or all provisions of the Forest Practices Act of 1973 concerning a person engaged in specified forest management activities. Status: AB 1954 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2348 (Aguiar-Curry): Winter-Flooded Rice: Incentives. Assembly Bill 2348 would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation that would provide an incentive to farmers to maintain winter-flooded rice. Status:  AB 2348 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2447 (Reyes): California Environmental Quality Act: Land Use. Assembly Bill 2447 would require the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to publish a list of subject land uses and a map that identifies disadvantaged communities and areas within 1/2 mile radius of the disadvantaged communities. Requires a lead agency to provide certain notices to owners and occupants of property located within one-half mile of any parcel or parcels, and to any schools located within one mile of any parcel or parcels, involving a subject land use. Status: AB 2447 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position: Concerns

Assembly Bill 2518 (Aguiar-Curry): Innovative Forest Products and Mass Timber. Assembly Bill 2518 would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in collaboration with the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, to explore markets, including export markets, for milling, development, and expansion of innovative forest products and mass timber, that require consistence with the state's climate objectives on forest lands. Status: AB 2518 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2551 (Wood): Forest and Wildland Health Improvement. Assembly Bill 2551 would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention to establish, implement, and administer the Forest and Wildland Health Improvement and Fire Prevention Program, which is intended to promote forest and wildland health, restoration, and resilience, and improve fire prevention and preparedness throughout the state. Status: AB 2551 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2594 (Friedman): Fire Insurance. Assembly Bill 2594 would revise the standard forms of policy and extend the period in which to bring suit to 24 months after the inception of the loss if the loss is related to a state of emergency, as specified. Status: AB 2594 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Assembly Bill 2908 (Berman): Tire Recycling: California Tire Regulatory Fee. AB 2908 would amend the California Tire Recycling Act. Requires, upon a specified finding by the Department of Resources and Recycling and Recovery, a waste tire generator, that is a retail seller of new tires to end user purchasers, to pay a state tire regulatory fee and to remit that fee to the state on a quarterly schedule for a deposit in the California Tire Recycling Management Fund. Requires the Department to track revenue from the state tire regulatory fee separately. Requires a public hearing. Status: AB 2908 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position:  Support

Assembly Bill 3036 (Cooley): Solid Waste: Definition. Assembly Bill 3036 would exclude from the State Integrated Waste Management Act's definition of solid waste byproducts from processing food, if those byproducts meet certain conditions, including, among others, that the byproducts are intended for use as animal feed. Status: AB awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position: Watch

Assembly Bill 3112 (Grayson): Controlled Substances: Butane.  Assembly Bill 3112 would impose restrictions on the sale of butane.  Status: AB 3112 has been signed into law by the Governor.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 452 (Glazer): The California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act. Senate Bill 452 is considered the bottle bill “short term fix” and is intended to increase recycling opportunities. SB 452 proposes to return processing payments to 2015 levels and extends plastic recycling market development incentives. SB 452 would also limit take back responsibility for dealers in unserved zones to 24 containers per day, temporarily relieve dealers by suspending the take-back obligation in zones that became unserved due to a recycling center closure until December 2021, and provides additional handling fees in rural areas annually for three years, among other provisions. Status:  SB 452 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 824 (Lara): Insurance: Nonrenewal.  Senate Bill 824 would express the intent of the Legislature to clarify that the provisions described concerning cancellation of structural insurance policies is applicable to all insured properties located within a county for which a state of emergency has been declared. SB 824 prohibits nonrenewal of the policies under specified circumstances. Status: SB 824 has been signed into law by the Governor.  RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 833 (McGuire): Emergency Alerts: Evacuation Orders: Operators. Senate Bill 833 would provide for a red alert system designed to issue and coordinate alerts following an evacuation order. Requires the red alert system to incorporate a variety of notification resources and developing technologies that may be tailored to the circumstances and geography of the underlying evacuation, as appropriate. Status: SB 833 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 894 (Dodd): Property Insurance. Senate Bill 894 would require an insurer, in the case of a total loss to the primary insured structure under a policy of residential property insurance, to offer to renew the policy. Increases the minimum coverage for additional living expenses in the case of a loss related to a declared state of emergency. Requires an insurer who decides not to offer to renew a policy after the expiration of that period to report the decision to not offer to renew the policy to the Insurance Commissioner. Status: SB 894 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 917 (Jackson): Insurance Policies. Senate Bill 917 would provide that insurance policies that do not cover the peril of landslide shall not exclude coverage for any loss or damage attributable to a landslide if the landslide resulting in loss or damage was proximately caused by another covered peril, as provided.  Status: SB 917 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 1079 (Monning): Forest Resources: Fire Prevention Grant Fees. Senate Bill 1079 would relate to existing laws authorizing the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to provide grants to entities, including, but not limited to, private or nongovernmental entities, Native American tribes, or local, state, and federal public agencies, for the implementation and administration of projects and programs to improve forest health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Authorizes the Director to authorize advance payments to a nonprofit organization, a special district, or a Native American tribe. Status: SB 1079 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support

Senate Bill 1215 (Hertzberg): Drinking Water Systems and Sewer Systems: Consolidation. Senate Bill 1215 would authorize the State Water Resources Control Board to set timeline and performance measures to facilitate completion of extension of service of drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Authorizes ordered consolidation with a receiving sewer system for, or extension of sewer service to, a disadvantaged community under specified circumstances. Status: SB 1215 awaits the consideration of the Governor. RCRC Position: Oppose

Senate Bill 1260 (Jackson): Fire Prevention and Protection: Prescribed Burns. Senate Bill 1260 would require a local agency to transmit a copy of their adopted ordinance to the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection within a certain number of days of adoption. Requires a local agency to make a finding that ingress and egress for a subdivision meet regulations regarding road standards for fire equipment access, as provided. Gives the Department the option, if it elects not to purchase insurance, to determine proportionate share of liability, as provided. Status: SB 1260 has been signed into law by the Governor. RCRC Position: Support