AENR Bill Highlights & Requested Feedback
The Legislature is in full swing following February’s bill introduction deadline. While many bills are still being amended, below are a few items in the agriculture, environment, and natural resources portfolio that are of particular interest to counties. In addition are several bills that CSAC would greatly appreciate county feedback on.
The Williamson Act is a state-established program that preserves agricultural and open space lands through property tax incentives and voluntary restrictive use contracts. Private landowners, in exchange for lower property taxes, enter into rolling 10- or 20-year contractual commitments with participating counties to keep their land in agricultural and/or compatible open space use. The Williamson Act has been very effective, protecting over 16.5 million acres, or nearly one-third of all privately-owned land in California.
The Williamson Act was intended to be a partnership between the State, counties, and landowners. Counties, in exchange for implementing the state goal of farm and ranch land preservation, were to receive a partial replacement of their foregone property tax from the land enrolled in the program. State subventions have not been paid to counties since 2009. Without these payments counties have struggled to fully fund public priorities, such as public safety staffing. State subventions were one of California rural counties’ few discretionary revenue sources for local programs, including public safety.
AB 1985 (Rivas) – Organic Waste. CSAC will be supporting AB 1985 (Rivas), which will help local governments achieve their procurement targets by creating an online database of organic waste products on the market across the state. The state’s organic waste diversion target (SB 1383 Lara, 2016) requires cities and counties by January 1, 2022, to procure a specific quantity of organic waste products based on their population. As jurisdictions ramp up their organic waste collection programs, many cities and counties have struggled to meet these procurement targets due to a limited amount of organic waste products on the market. In many cases, local governments also struggle to connect with end markets for the organic waste they do process.
AB 1985 will enable local governments to connect directly with local farmers and community members seeking their products. With cities and counties required to procure large amounts of compost and mulch per year, this bill will help facilitate these products going somewhere they are needed, while also maximizing the benefits to local communities. CSAC continues to look for opportunities for support of counties as they implement organic recycling mandates.
CSAC is currently seeking feedback from counties on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources bills. Brief summaries of these measures are included below. Please send your feedback to Ada Waelder at email@example.com.
AB 2247 (Bloom) – PFAS Product Disclosure. AB 2247 would require anyone bringing products containing perfluorinated or polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) in to the state of California to report their products to the Department of Toxic Substances Control. This requirement would go in to effect in 2024. It would also authorize the Department to require manufacturers of PFSA products to pay a fee that would be deposited in to a PFAS Disclosure Fund.
PFAS are a group of around 9,000 man-made products used in many household and industrial products. These chemicals do not breakdown, and thus have been called “forever chemicals.” PFAS have been found in the blood of humans and animals, soil, water, and air, and linked to harmful health impacts. However, the extent of the impact and how to manage the chemicals is still being researched.
SB 852 (Dodd) – Climate Resilience Districts. SB 852 would allow cities, counties or special districts, either alone or in combination, to establish climate resilience financing districts to undertake projects and programs to address climate change including wildfire, sea level rise, extreme heat and cold, drought, flooding, and related matters. The districts would be able to raise revenue through tax increment funding, voter-approved supplemental property taxes, property benefit assessments or fees.
AB 2374 (Bauer-Kahan) – Commercial Illegal Dumping. AB 2374 would increase the maximum fine for the dumping of commercial quantities of waste from $3000 to $5000 for the first conviction, from $6000 to $10,000 for the second conviction, and from $10,000 to $20,000 for the third and any subsequent convictions. The bill defines “commercial quantities” as waste generated in the course of business that is in excess of one cubic yard. The bill would also require a court to direct those convicted of illegal dumping to pay for the removal. In addition, courts would be authorized to revoke a convicted individual’s business license.