This week was very busy, with a large quantity of committee hearings held and votes taken.
The biggest story of the week was the passage of AB-904 out the Natural Resources Committee. It has been sent on to Appropriations. This bill creates the Working Forest Management Plan (WFMP), which is based on the very successful NonIndustrial Timber Management Plan.
The Santa Cruz County forestry community had a scare last week where Supervisor Leopold attempted to introduce a consent-calendar motion to request that Santa Cruz County be exempt from the WFMP. This was pulled from the consent calendar and defeated, primarily because the supervisors felt there had not been sufficient discussion of the topic.
It is also interesting that the only member of the Natural Resources Committee not supporting the WFMP was our own Assemblyman Stone. We are disappointed, but not surprised, as he has historically been a hard-core opponent of forestry.
AB-350, which proposes to increase the size of tree that may be removed within 500’ of structure without a THP for the purpose of fire safety from 18 DBH to 28 DBH, failed passage in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, with reconsideration granted. This is expected to be pushed off until next year as a two-year bill.
AB-468, which creates an disaster management fund to be funded by surcharges on property insurance, has been elevated to an urgent bill. This means it will take a 2/3 vote to pass and it will take effect immediately upon passage. One of the provisions of this bill is the repeal of the fire prevention (SRA) fee. We are not overly thrilled with yet more money flowing into the state’s maw, but do concede that this scheme at least touches everyone who gets state protection and that the billed amount will be related to the value of the protected property.
AB-823, which requires any conversion of agricultural land to be mitigated by the acquisition or protection of other agricultural land, has passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and has been sent to the Assembly Agriculture committee. CCFA opposes this bill as it does nothing to address the pressures driving people to convert the ag land to other uses and instead simply adds another, expensive, hoop to jump through which may actually serve to drive even more land conversion to cover the costs.
AB-875, which legislates where the AB 1492 lumber tax money will go, has passed the Natural Resources Committee and moved on to Appropriations. CCFA feels this bill allocates far too large a percentage of the proceeds of AB 1492 to salmon restoration projects, favoring this over forest improvement projects.
AB-1097, which originally sought to reaffirm the original purpose of the Department of Fish and Game, has now morphed entirely into a bill that declares the usage rules for the Mirage Trail in the Magnesia Spring Ecological Reserve. We have no further interest in this bill
SB-123, the Senate version of the bill that creates CEQA and land use sub-courts within the judicial system, has been amended such that a new surcharge will be added to environmental license plates to fund the system, which we find peculiarly appropriate, since most of the fuss and bother in this arena comes from the sort of people who buy environmental license plates.
A collection of bills were sent to their respective Appropriation suspense files, including most of the bills relating to the SRA fee.
As usual, all the gory details are in the status table.