The California Legislature is preparing to officially return to work August 12. This week, several bills (SB-1, SB-11, SB-436, SB-633 and SB-731) have been amended in advance of their upcoming committee hearings. Most of the amended bills deal with CEQA changes or Green programs.
We have not heard any definite news about AB-904 from the legislature, although there are rumors that is is suspended while negotiations between all the interests go on behind the scenes. There has been activity within local agencies such as the Santa Clara County Water District as environmental activists continue their campaign to force the Southern Subdistrict out of bill. CCFA has been supporting efforts to keep the Southern Subdistrict capable of participating in the provisions of the bill by attending hearings and testifying.
See CA Legislation Progress 2013_ Aug_8 for full details of our tracked California bills.
On the federal front, two different versions of the Farm Bill have passed both the House and the Senate. They still need to be reconciled. The House version (H.R. 2642: Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013) has the forest roads provisions of the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act folded into it and requires the USDA’s Biobased Markets Program to include forest products. This version of the bill is causing controversy because the House also removed all Food Stamp provisions from it, preferring to treat this program in a separate bill. Talks are expected to continue through the August recess to reconcile the differences before the September 30 deadline of the current Farm Bill.
In the meantime, H.R. 2026: Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act of 2013 and S. 971: Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act continue to gather cosponsors, though not so much from our local legislators.
Tax reform prospects are poor, but Congress has been discussing it. The forestry community is urging that any reforms take forestry’s unusual business cycle into consideration when drafting the reforms. The community hopes to retain capital gains treatment of harvested timber, and deductions for growing costs and reforestation expenses.
H.R. 818: Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act has ben merged into H.R. 1526: Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act. The merged bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee and will be in the House floor in September.