RCRC opposes Assembly Bill 338, authored by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Davis), as introduced. This measure would change the definition of public works to include fuels reduction projects done under contract, thereby requiring prevailing wage for projects paid for in part or whole by public funds. The bill was passed by the Legislature in 2022 as Assembly Bill 1717 but was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom.  

Wildfire risk mitigation is of paramount importance to RCRC member counties, many of which rely on state and federal grant dollars to complete crucial fuels treatment projects to safeguard communities. Many rural communities also struggle with housing and workforce development issues and depend almost wholly on public funds so that fire safe councils, community collaboratives and other local organizations can work with local governments to utilize the available local workforce to maximize their scarce resources to provide community fuels treatment projects.  

While well-intended, AB 338 could have the unintended consequence of putting small, local contractors out of business by requiring payment of prevailing wage for fuels treatment work paid for by public grant dollars and other public funds, leaving local agencies reliant on a small pool of large, out-of-area contractors to complete projects. AB 338 as written will slow the pace and scale of fuels treatment and drive up project costs while ultimately shrinking local available jobs without a substantial commitment by the state to increase investments in forest resilience grant programs, particularly in disadvantaged communities.  

AB 338 has been referred to the Assembly Labor and Employment committee. RCRC’s letter of opposition is available here. For more information, please contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Staci Heaton.