California legislation update – June 1

by Cate Moore on June 2, 2015

June 5 is the deadline for a legislative bill to pass out of its house of origin in order to remain alive for this year’s legislative session.   The week of June 1-5 is dedicated to finalizing action on those bills still remaining in their house of origin and there are no committee meetings allowed for any reason whatsoever.  At the end of this week, we will once again weed our legislation tracking table to follow only those bills that are still alive.  We invite you to keep up with the latest developments through our legislation table. Legislation_status_June_01

Many of the bills we are tracking are passing through the legislature with only minor tweaks.  Below, we highlight the bills that have been moving the most in ways that affect forest landowners, land managers and rural residents.

AB-33 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Energy Integration Advisory Council) has backed off from addressing all forms of energy use in the state and is now just focused on getting renewable energy sources into the state’s electrical grid.

AB-56 (Unmanned aircraft systems) is incorporating procedures to protect the public from unwarranted surveillance and data collection.

Medical marijuana bills (AB-203 and AB-243) continue to push for requiring the marijuana industry to join the mainstream business community by requiring they use the same environmental protection practices and business oversight and permitting that other businesses already use.

AB-498 (Wildlife conservation: wildlife corridors) has become far more palatable for rural business.  It has stepped down from the relatively aggressive “This bill would declare that it is the policy of the state, with regard to a project proposed in an area identified as a wildlife corridor, to encourage the project proponent to consult with the department, and, wherever feasible and practicable, take voluntary steps to promote, protect, or restore the functioning of the wildlife corridor through various means, as applicable.”

to :

“This bill would declare that it is the policy of the state to encourage, wherever feasible and practicable, voluntary steps to protect the functioning of wildlife corridors through various means, as applicable.”

Forest lands already serve as wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors and normal forest management does not impede this function.

We have reservations about the developments in AB-644 (Land use: general plan: safety element: fire hazard impacts).  This has changed from a requirement that developers define how they are going to address their urban interface fire hazard problem to an anti-subdivision bill that requires 40 acre or larger subdivisions for large parcels.  It seems to us that this will accelerate the speed of the breakup of large ranches.

There must be an interesting backstory to AB-849 (Unlawful cannabinoid extraction: explosion.) which now deals with explosions caused by extracting active chemicals from marijuana.

AB-1242 (Water quality: impacts on groundwater: instream flows) has taken a sideways bend from evaluating groundwater basins and formulating measures to mitigate impacts to them to using the groundwater sustainability funds for fish recovery projects.

AB-1251 (Greenway Development and Sustainment Act) remains a potential land grab by authorizing “tax-exempt nonprofit organizations to acquire and hold a conservation easement if the organizations have as their primary purpose the development of a greenway, as defined.”

SB-209 (Surface mining: inspections and financial assurances) will be dropping off our radar since it no longer involves training foresters in surface mining practices.

SB-226 (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: groundwater rights) deals with the process of establishing and retaining adjudicated groundwater rights.  This bill is going to find itself challenged in court, since it declares that it applies to the federal government and Indian tribes.  The Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife can intervene in an action or proceeding if they claim an interest in the waters being ruled upon.

SB-317 (The Safe Neighborhood Parks, Rivers, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2016.) We feel the balance of funds is too heavy in land acquisition and too light in maintaining and developing lands already owned by the public.

SB-758 (Atmospheric Rivers Research and Mitigation Fund) continues to baffle us.  What does the legislature seriously think it can do to change air currents or force rain from the sky?  This one screams boondoggle.

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