There was significant action in the SRA fee arena this week.
In the first committee hearing of a “Repeal the SRA fee” bill, the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee heard SB-17; the result was predictable given that this is a Democrat-controlled committee and none of the Democrats are eager to see a funding source dry up. The bill failed in committee but was granted an opportunity for reconsideration.
There were moves in other SRA-related bills in reaction:
The hearing date for SB-125 was pushed back to April 23.
Wes Chesbro gutted and amended AB-468 to repeal the SRA fee and create in its place a disaster management fund which will be funded through surcharges on property insurance and may be used by CalFIRE, CalEMA and/or the National Guard to cover disaster recovery expenditures. This is an obvious act of realpolitik that recognizes the only way the SRA fee will get repealed by this legislature is by providing another, more appealing, funding source to replace it. The overall effects would be:
- Everyone who owns property insurance pays into the fund. This means that the urban sectors of the state don’t get a free ride anymore.
- The annual costs to rural properties are expected be lower than the SRA fee structure.
- The surcharge is based on a percentage of the overall insurance bill and is not a flat fee that has no correlation to the value of the property. This means that more valuable properties will be paying more.
AB-245 (require the Western Climate Initiative to submit to California sunshine laws) has had its committee hearing postponed. My personal wild speculation suggests that ARB is putting up a huge fuss about this.
AB-1051 was amended to add open space projects to its greenhouse gas mitigation projects. On the plus side, it does recognize that “working land” can absorb carbon as well as parks. Still, participating in these projects may open a landowner up to a world of nit-picky judgements between the benefit of his green growing plants and the deficits of the machinery used to maintain them and their environment. Who needs another set of reports to file?
SB-132, the bill that requires non-lethal taking of mountain lions when feasible, passed its committee hearing. It was amended to remove “relocation” as a usable potential disposal mechanism for a captured mountain lion and a reporting requirement was added to record just what was done with the captured lion.
SB-621, which extends compliance deadlines for diesel emissions standards, failed to pass its committee hearing, but was granted the opportunity for reconsideration.
SB-123 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is the first of the “Environmental and Land-Use Court” bills to be heard. SB 123 and AB-515 make us very nervous, but, unfortunately, the effects will only be known after implementation. The whole timbre of these courts will be set by the judges placed in them. If we get enviro-freaks, we will be in a world of hurt. If we get judges that understand that environmental goals must be achieved while also protecting property rights and being mindful of business constraints, we will come out ahead.
AB-823 will be heard by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. We do not oppose the goal of AB 823, but we believe the method is counter-productive and fails to address the causes of ag land conversion. We are disappointed that our argument was not mentioned in the bill analysis.
Here is the April 14 legislative snapshot: CA Legislation Progress 04_14_2013