California Legislation Update – 2014 session – March 21

by Cate Moore on March 21, 2014

The 2014 legislation session is off to the races.  The deadline to submit bills (Feb 21) has passed and your CCFA board has filtered through this year’s offerings.  We are currently tracking 20 bills from last year and 67 bills that were introduced this year.  Since the list is far too long to discuss each bill individually, we will discuss them in terms of the broad themes that we have detected in this year’s offerings.

There are a tremendous number of “spot” bills, which are bills that serve as placeholders.  The text in these bills typically takes an existing law, changes a few words, and lets it sit until the real language has been crafted offline.  At any time during the legislative process, the new language can suddenly be amended in, so these bills need watched.  Anyway, due to this, we cannot take a stand on the majority of the bills as currently written.

We will be making regular posts on our website in the legislation section under “Current Issues”  (http://ccfassociation.org/category/legislation/).  These updates will contain a link to our legislation status table (CA Legislation Progress 2014 March_21), where you can see the latest on each bill and our take on it.  The table includes a link to each bill’s data in the legislature so you can read the text and status for yourself.  We invite your comments and insights.

Forestry/Timber

Most of these bills are place holders.  There’s not enough written there to make a stand on.  The rest are by and large minor improvements to existing practices.  AB 1867 and AB 2082 are currently the bills to watch for innovation as the state tries to get a grip on managing fire hazards and wildland management where the main goal is not maximizing conifer production.

CCFA supports the following bills:

AB 2112 – widens the window within which the landowner may file for an extension to his THP

AB 2184 – allows excess AB 1492 funds to be used for grants to remediate forest land used for illegal marijuana plots

CCFA supports the following bills if modified:

AB 1867 – adjusts the defensible space parameters for thinning cuts done for fire protection.  CCFA has concerns about a number of the requirements, including as the expense of requiring an RPF, the cost and complexity of preparing required documentation, the retention standards are too high and the verification measurements do not necessarily reflect the original stand.

CCFA opposes the following bills unless modified:

AB 2239 – requires a landowner who has an NTMP on the parcel he is selling to notify the purchasing party of the NTMP’s existence.  The purchasing party has 1 year from this notification to assume the plan.  Our major objection is language in the bill that implies failure to notify will be a crime.

We remain ambivalent on AB 2142 because we are not sure how this would play out in practice.  The intent is to require any wood harvested from the state forests be processed in in-state mills.  There have been problems in the past of manufacturers who have mixed state/federal logs, which must be processed locally, with logs bought from private landowners which may be exported before processing.  The way this is prevented is to require manufacturers to only process their logs locally for at least 2 years to ensure they don’t export and that they can’t mix reserved logs in with their more recent purchases. The problem is that the only real local market for Douglas Fir is unprocessed logs taken to the Port of Oakland for export to China.  We would love to make sure our local mills get wood to process, but are our buyers going to be prohibited from buying Soquel forest redwood if they send our Douglas fir to China?

The forestry bills on our Watch status are: 

AB 468, AB 1740, AB 2031, AB 2082, AB 2595, SB 1345.

SRA fee modifications

There are a few bills that make minor changes to the SRA fee.  Some of them are useful and some just move the pieces around on the table.  None of them kill it.  

CCFA supports the following bills:

AB 1519 – removes late fees from SRA fees.

AB 2048 – changes billing from properties with structures to properties with habitable structures so you can’t be billed for your burned house.

The following bills are on our Watch status:

AB 1954, SB 1413

Water Supply and Control

Due to this year’s extraordinarily low rainfall, water is a very hot issue in Sacramento.  We have six major water bond bills, a few localized water bonds bills, ground water management plans and tweaking of water rights.  The bonds are variously allocated for:   water quality improvements including ground water cleanups, infrastructure improvements, protecting lakes watercourses and watersheds, water efficiency measures, and finally (sort of at the bottom) water storage. The usual glamour topics are there, including allusions to climate change (which justifies water storage), ecosystem protection and restoration, wildlife corridors and Delta sustainability.  Our interest in the water bond bills centers on: The water bonds include watershed management and habitat plans in them as well as new capture and storage facilities, which may impact us in forestry.  There are opportunities for funding for thinning if we can successfully explain how thinning overgrown vegetation will reduce wildfire hazards and improve dry-season ground water supplies.  Possible obstacles include wrong-headed approaches to watershed management that would prevent thinning and the realization that they are going to have to build the new reservoirs somewhere.

CCFA supports the following bills with modifications:

AB 1905 – allows the construction of small domestic, small irrigation, and livestock stockponds.  The bill adds the ability to use stockponds for fire protection.  We would like to see the ability to use any of these small diversions for prescribed fire also and the usage limits lifted for all fire protection/control purposes.  We need safe harbor in case these ponds get colonized by red legged frogs or other threatened or endangered species.

AB 2465 – provides a tax benefits for people building small water diversions in salmonid streams for freeze protection of crops and other agricultural uses.  We would like to see these ponds used for fire protection and prescribed fire operations with no usage limits on these functions.  We need safe harbor in case these diversions get colonized by red legged frogs or other threatened or endangered species.

The following bills are on our Watch status:

AB 1331, AB 1445, AB 1630, AB 1632, AB 1674, AB 1739, AB 2686, SB 848, SB 927, SB 936, SB 938, SB 1049, SB 1168, SB 1398

Wildlife and Habitat

Forest management and wildlife habitat are very closely intertwined. Here’s what’s going on in this arena this year.  The bill to watch is AB 1514, which looks like a multi-species safe harbor. 

The following bills are on our Watch status:

AB 896, AB 1514, AB 2193, AB 2684, SB 1410

Trespass

All rural crimes begin with trespassing.  There are some gaps in the current law when trespassing occurs on working forests, and these placeholders may offer opportunities to fill these gaps.

CCFA supports the following bills with modifications: 

AB 1686, SB 1295

Land Management and Rural Living

These bills have primarily to do with how we manage our lands as rural properties, including mitigation for land conversions to less green uses and programs for encouraging sustainable management.  The dogs pursuing bears and bobcats is back. Again.  There are both opportunities and obstacles in these bills. 

CCFA supports the following bills:

AB 1709 – Young hunters don’t need to pay for adult hunting licenses until they are 18.

AB 1711 – requires economic impact assessments for new regulations.  We may need to remind them that economic impacts also affect private parties and not just government.

AB 2402 – Grants for noxious weed management

The following bills are on our Watch status: 

AB 1799, AB 1961, AB 2205, AB 2629, SB 930, SB 1086, SB 1353

Greenhouse Gas/Carbon Sequestration

Greenhouse gasses is another darling of the legislature.  There is a prevailing belief that there will be billions of dollars coming into the state from the cap and trade auctions. Forestry’s ties to the greenhouse gas world lies in biofuel opportunities and operating expense increases due to carbon taxes on the fuels and lubricants we use in our equipment.

CCFA opposes the following:

SB 1156 – We see nothing but increased fuel and lubricant costs coming out of this one.

The following bills are on our Watch status: 

AB 1639, AB 1763, AB 1970, AB 2050, AB 2363, AB 2348, AB 2363, AB 2390, SB 916, SB 1121, SB 1125, SB 1268

Board composition

We deal with the water quality control boards and the Coastal Commission regularly, so we need to stay aware of changes to rules specifying in their composition.

The following bills are on our Watch status:

AB 1707, AB 1807, SB 1096

Last year’s lurkers

These bills made it least through their house of origin to the other house, but have stalled during the 2013 session and not moved since.  That doesn’t mean they can’t come back to haunt us.

CCFA opposes the following:

AB 976 – The Coastal Commission has a long-standing history of general obstructionism and capricious decisions which are frequently overturned in court.  The last thing they deserve is the ability to set and enforce their own penalties.

AB 1188 – This is a Prop 13 override

AB 1330 – Justice is justice.  There is no such thing as “environmental justice”

The following bills are on our Watch status:

AB 203, AB 278, AB 769, SB 11, SB 633

I’m not dead yet

A bill that did not make it through the 2013 session theoretically must pass their house of origin by January 31, 2014 to remain valid.   The following bills failed this test, but are somehow still alive. Many of them are constitutional amendments that change the 2/3 vote requirement provisions on Proposition 13 in one avenue or another.

CCFA oppose the following bills which are all Prop 13 overrides:

ACA 3, ACA 8, SCA 4, SCA 7, SCA 8, SCA 11

The following bills are on our Watch status:

SB 1    Sustainable Communities Investment Authority

Other

This is a grab bag of bills that are difficult to group, but that we feel may impact our property and lifestyles in some way.

CCFA oppose the following: 

SB 1456 – allows CAL FIRE personnel to possess and use .50 caliber machine guns and assault weapons.  We don’t believe this is needed to execute their mission of fire protection.

The following bills are on our Watch status:

AB 515, AB 2364, SB 674, SB 731, SB 1019, SB 1075, SB 1454

 

 

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