California Legislation update 3/27/13

by Cate Moore on March 29, 2013

This week the legislature is taking their spring break, which means we get our breather too.

We previously covered the reasons for our stances on the various SRA fee bills.  This week we will look at some of the others.

CCFA supports the following bills:

AB 245 will lift the exemption from the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act currently enjoyed by the Western Climate Initiative.  WCI is the separately incorporated arm of the California Air Resources Board that handles all of the money gathered by the cap-and-trade auctions.  It is unconscionable that this amount of money be gathered by a public agency without public oversight.

AB 350 expands the size of a fire protection buffer around a structure and the size of the trees that may be cut within that buffer without requiring a THP.  We feel this allows more flexibility in designing and executing fire protection buffers to allow for terrain challenges.

AB 763 deals with controlling and/or eradicating invasive aquatic plants.  The part we like about this bill is that it requires all of the agencies, federal, state and local, to coordinate and formulate a comprehensive plan before they proceed.  If we could get something like this into forestry, we wouldn’t be stuck trying to both do and undo something at the same time at the behest of two different agencies.

AB 1097 declares that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s primary purpose is to serve fishermen and hunters.  It’s what Fish and Game was originally charted to do and we would welcome a return to that attitude.

AB 1230 was recently amended to readdress the allowed methods for hunting bears and bobcats in a cooler emotional atmosphere than 2012.  The law has been realigned to match hunting rules in place for other animals.  We feel the best way to keep a wild animal from becoming a nuisance is to provide them with a compelling reason to avoid people and their property.

SB 731 makes changes the CEQA to aid the development of “smart infill” projects, primarily low income housing near transit station.  The part of the bill that catches CCFA’s attention is the provision for adding measurable standards (“thresholds of significance in the bill’s parlance) into CEQA reports for noise, aesthetics, parking, traffic and so forth.  If a project meets the standards, it does not need further review.  All CEQA investigations should have measurable standards that define whether or not an EIR is required.

CCFA opposes the following bills:

AB 823 requires that agricultural land that is converted to another use be mitigated by replacing it with equivalent land.  Losing agricultural land is a problem in California, but this bill does nothing to address the reasons pushing people into converting their land, like lack of profitability, lack of management options, excessive regulations, providing funds to pay inheritance taxes or or buy out heirs who no longer want to participate in the farm.  Instead, it adds to their financial burden by requiring them to essentially buy more land.

AB 1213 grants protect bobcats a special protected status.  Bobcats are not endangered and do not need special protection.  This a totally emotional bill that does not consider what special status for bobcats will do to disturb natural balances of predator and prey.

SB 132 makes a law out of an issue that should be resolved by an internal agency policy adjustment.  It requires that mountain lions be perceived to be an imminent hazard to public health or safety be taken by nonlethal methods unless there is an immediate danger of death or physical harm.  This is another bill driven purely by emotion; making a law out of this issue is overkill.

There are a cluster of bills to amend the constitution to require a only 55% majority to approve an array of bonds.  Since California already finds itself taxed and fee’ed into penury, we oppose these bills on principal.  We do not expect any changes to come to California’s spend-happy public policy until California is forced into a triage of its public programs.

  • AB 1188: emergency service infrastructure
  • ACA 3: public safety infrastructure
  • ACA 8: local infrastructure improvement bonds
  • SCA 4: local government transportation
  • SCA 7: libraries
  • SCA 8: transportation

This week’s legislative status table:

CA Legislation Progress 3_27_13

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