California 2013 Legislation Synopsis

by Cate Moore on September 21, 2013

The California Legislature has adjourned for the year.  As we discovered last year, the California legislation process is a frustrating and unpredictable affair, often governed by unbridled emotionalism and subject to strange twists at the eleventh hour when one thinks the matter at hand has been settled.

The gut-and-amend procedure is especially unpredictable; one bill that CCFA tracked this year changed completely at least four times through this method.  It’s a very poor way to create a law, even if we sometimes profit by it. Typically, a gut-and-amend happens at the very end of the legislative session, when deals are being cut for votes, and it results in a bill that has not been properly vetted.  It’s also very hard to detect these bills if you don’t happen to have someone on the inside, so you have no idea what is even in the bill much less time to analyze its probable impacts before it has been voted on and passed along the chain.

That said, the year wasn’t as damaging as it might have been considering the supermajorities in each house that might have led to over-exuberance on the part of the Democrats.  Here are the particulars:

Sent to Governor

You may weigh in with the governor’s office on these bills at:

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

We recommend using fax or phone; physical mail can get hung up in security checks at the capitol mail room and we are currently having difficulties bringing up the email form.

AB-8Alternative fuel and vehicle technologies funding plan.  It funds programs to enhance hydrogen fuel networks for vehicles and programs to repower “high-emitting engines” to approved engines.  The bill involves a surcharge on vehicle registration fees and changes the parameters of the vehicle buy-back program to remove high-emitting vehicles from the roads.  This bill provides an awful lot of funding for a technology (hydrogen fuel) that is not ready for prime time.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – YES, Monning – YES
             San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
             Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – No vote recorded

AB-502Commercial Law: secured transactions sets rules for securing property in financial transactions.  We are interested in this bill because timber is one of the categories of property mentioned.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – NO, Monning – YES
             San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
             Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

AB-744 Timber Harvesting Plans: Exempt Activities This is a last-minute gut-and-amend that took a dead recycling bill and resurrected it as a pilot project for testing whether increasing the diameter of the trees one may take in the forest fire prevention exemption can result in reduced risk of catastrophic wildfires.  This bill only applies to Modoc, Siskyou or Trinity Counties and sunsets three years after the regulations have been put in place.  It allows the taking of trees up to 24” in diameter measured from 8” from the ground (which is not standard measuring practice) within areas determined to be moderate, high and very high fire hazard zones. It will be difficult to determine in a three year span just how effective the new practice is; fires cannot be guaranteed to happen in the right zone to test the effectiveness of the treatment.  That said, it is still a WIN for forestry, since we need to start somewhere to get effective wildfire hazard reduction management tools in place in the public consciousness.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – NO (the only Assembly NO recorded), Monning – No vote recorded
              San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
              Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

AB-763Aquatic invasive plants: control and eradication Requires all involved agencies to coordinate in the control and eradication of aquatic invasive plants.  We hope this sets a trend for requiring interagency coordination and cooperation, making this a WIN for forestry.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – YES, Monning – YES
             San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
             Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

AB-904Working Forest Management Plan.  This bill became irrelevant to CCFA territory when a last-minute amendment excluded the southern subdistrict from the law.  This bill extends the NTMP model to larger properties, allowing them to gain regulatory relief in exchange for sustainable forestry practices.  Our exclusion from this bill is going to affect primarily the Santa Cruz Land Trust, which already has land in NTMP and was hoping to use the WFMP for lands they have recently acquired or will acquire in the future.  This is very disappointing for those of us in southern redwoods, but is a WIN for forestry the rest of the state.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone -YES, Monning -No Vote Recorded, now that the southern subdistrict is excluded.
While the southern subdistrict was in the bill, the vote was Stone – NO (there were only 2 NOs in the Assembly) and Monning – No Vote Recorded
            San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – No Vote Recorded
           Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

AB-1213Bobcat Protection Act – regulates trapping bobcats.  CCFA is not sure why this needs to be a law; Fish and Wildlife policy should have been sufficient.  This appears to be another overly emotional response to an increase in fur trapping near Joshua Monument.  Our objections to this bill include adding a protected status onto a non-endangered species to the possible detriment of endangered prey or competitor species and to a lack of clarity for the legality of trapping for eliminating bobcats that have been damaging livestock.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – YES, Monning – YES
             San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
            Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

SB-749 – Habitat protection: endangered species Authorizes Fish and Wildlife to lease department managed lands for agricultural purposes with the lease proceeds to be used for managing, restoring or maintaining department land. provides for legal accidental take for normal, lawful agricultural operations until 2020.  extends funding for developing a pilot coho recovery program.  This is an overall WIN for agriculture and forestry, although the continuation of a coho recovery plan which is independent of the NMFS plan will continue to add complexity and confusion to the coho arena.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – YES, Monning – YES
             San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
            Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

Already Signed by Governor

AB-374 – Eminent Domain: Compensation: Loss of goodwill tightens the rules concerning the compensation due to a property owner who is forced to move by eminent domain and loses the value of the good will of his customers by virtue of this forced move. This law now requires, for the owner of a business to be compensated for loss of goodwill, that the business owner adduce sufficient evidence to permit a jury to find that goodwill existed prior to the taking.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – YES, Monning – YES
             San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
             Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

AB-497 – Fish and Wildlife changes meeting rules and notification rules for California Fish and Game Commission meetings from 10/year to 8/year and deletes requirement that no more than 3/year be held in Sacramento and removes explicit list of public notification methods required to be used to announce these meetings; enables the commission to adopt to salmon and groundfish regulations; requires sport fishing regulations to conform with federal regulations and requires public notification of regulation changes and at least one public hearing before enacting changes.
Votes: Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – YES, Monning – YES
              San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
             Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

SB-132 – Mountain Lions requires non-lethal methods of taking mountain lions that are not actively threatening human life. This is a purely emotional bill that responds to the incident where two mountain lion cubs found under a house were shot.  We feel this law is a major over-reaction to the circumstances and is setting up rural residents for unfortunate incidents in the future, including a continuing loss of pets and livestock.  This issue did NOT need a law; the entire issue could have been resolved with a policy change within Fish and Wildlife, which DID get enacted while this law was working its way through the legislature.  The legislature chose to ignore this and to give no credit to the professionalism of Fish and Wildlife personnel.  Now that this is a law, “The California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990 prohibits the Legislature from changing the act, with specified exceptions, except by a 4/5 vote of the membership of both houses of the Legislature and then only if consistent with, and in furtherance of, the purposes of the act.”  Unfortunately, it’s going to take some small child getting killed in his or her backyard to bring mountain lion management back into the rational realm.
Votes:  Santa Cruz: Alejo – YES, Stone – YES, Monning – YES
              San Mateo: Mullin – YES, Hill – YES, Yee – YES
              Santa Clara: Campos – YES, Gordon – YES, Fong – YES, Beall – YES

Gut-and-amended into irrelevance

SB-436 – started out as EIR reporting and notification changes; it now refers to shoreline protection of a specific beach

Deferred until Next Year or Dead

AB-37 – started as funding for water management for disadvantaged communities; now refers to unemployment insurance.  It died in committee

AB-278 – low carbon fuel standard

AB-976 – Permits Coastal Commission to charge fines without going through court.  This bill failed on the Assembly floor during the concurrence phase.  We are heartily relieved because the Coastal Commission has a long-standing history of overstepping its bounds, making arbitrary decisions, and seeking penalties far in excess of the nature of the violation which was brought up in the hearings as it progressed through the legislature.  This was co-authored by Mark Stone, who has served on the Coastal Commission.
Votes: Stone – YES, Monning – YES

AB-1295 – Public utilities and renewable energy.  This bill started with references to biomass that got dropped in a later amendment.

AB-1330 – Environmental Justice bill which was gutted and amended to identify and support those communities most adversely affected by toxic leaks and emissions.

AB-1331 – after multiple gut-and-amends, this bill became a Climate Change Response to Clean and Safe Drinking Water, then died in committee

SB-1 – Sustainable Communities Investment Authority

SB-11 – Alternative fuel and vehicle technologies funding program

SB-633 – CEQA reform – changes to environmental impact report revisits

SB-731 – CEQA reform.  This bill lost CCFA’s interest when the section providing measurable standards was deleted.

All of the Proposition 13 override bills stalled in committee.  These included:

  • ACA-3 – 55% approval for bonds for fire, sheriff, public safety, emergency response, police buildings facilities or equipment
  • ACA-8 – 55% vote for an array of infrastructure improvement bonds and to allow ad valorem tax of more than 1% of the value of the property for facilities for emergency services, transit systems, transportation infrastructure, sewer, water, waste
  • SCA-4 – 55% approval for bonds for local transportation projects
  • SCA-7 – 55% approval for bonds for public libraries
  • SCA-8 – 55% approval for bonds for transportation projects
  • SCA-11 – 55% approval needed for special taxes for local government

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