CSAC Bulletin Article

Ag. Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee Recap

The CSAC Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee met on Tuesday, November 28 during CSAC’s Annual meeting. San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson Chaired the meeting with Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna as Co-Chair. The agenda and other documents related to the policy committee meeting are available at this link.

2017 Year in Review

Cannabis. With passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), the state was left with two separate regulatory frameworks for medical and recreational cannabis. CSAC staff worked closely with the Administration and the Legislature this year to streamline the two programs into one regulatory framework for the regulation and licensure of medical and adult use cannabis businesses in California. CSAC was successful in ensuring that all local control, regulatory and taxing authority provisions were respected in the new consolidated program. In addition, CSAC staff worked hard throughout the year to provide a number of different outreach and educational opportunities to our membership to inform them of cannabis implementation issues.

Outreach efforts included the convening of a Cannabis Working Group and subsequent development of CSAC cannabis policy; a regional meeting in Humboldt County; and, a statewide Cannabis Summit that brought together more than 200 Supervisors and senior county staff to learn about different cannabis issues, from cultivation to banking. Finally, CSAC staff is moving forward jointly with the CSAC Finance Corporation on developing solutions to the cannabis banking and compliance issue.

Water Resources. Despite suspending our efforts to propose a stormwater ballot measure, CSAC was able to advance this issue through other legislative avenues this year. CSAC was successful in helping to secure the passage of SB 231 (Hertzberg), which helps to create a much-needed funding tool for local stormwater projects. SB 231 amends the Proposition 218 Omnibus Act, clarifying the definition of “sewer” to include stormwater. CSAC staff supported this important measure throughout the legislative session and its passage came down to critical final floor vote where CSAC provided critical lobbying support. CSAC continues to partner with the county engineers on this issue to develop education and outreach materials to inform the public of this important resource.

In addition, CSAC continued to represent county interests on legislation amending the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), particularly bills that attempted to undermine our hard‐won local control provisions. CSAC was successful in negotiating amendments to SB 252 (Dodd), advocating to remove components of the bill that would have hindered local governments’ ability to approve ministerial well permits.

In addition, CSAC staff actively followed several different water policy initiatives, including the development of a water and parks bond, and an effort to establish a water tax to help struggling public water systems by providing resources for capital projects, maintenance costs, and technical assistance.

Forest Health and Land Management. CSAC worked closely with the Administration to help implement the Executive Order on tree mortality, while advocating for local assistance and financial resources in order to limit the public health and safety risk from dead and dying trees. We were successful in securing additional resources from both the state General Fund and the cap and trade allocation, including $220 million in forest health funding, to help local governments deal with this crisis. In addition, CSAC assured the ongoing funding of Payment‐In‐Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments to counties.

Climate Change. CSAC was successful in advocating for additional resources to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the local level. The scope of the cap and trade allocation plan, which came together in the last days of the legislative session, was broadened this year due in part to the passage of AB 398 (E. Garcia), which extended the program beyond 2020 and included an updated list of funding priorities. The bill was also passed with a 2/3 vote of the Legislature, which enables cap and trade dollars to extend beyond pure GHG reductions. This benefits local governments by making funding available to programs such as the forest health program, which includes actions to avoid GHG emissions in addition to GHG mitigation. In total, the Legislature and Governor allocated $1.5 billion, and funded a number of CSAC priorities, including waste diversion, forest health and tree mortality, and local government action.

Resource Recovery and Waste Management. After a brief revival, the Legislature suspended their efforts to seek an increase to the state’s solid waste disposal fee (tipping fee) this year as focus turned to increasing the amount of organic material diverted from our landfills and the reduction of methane gas − a short lived climate pollutant. This issue will remain criƟcal, as will the need for resources to fund additional infrastructure to manage the organics portion of the waste stream. CSAC was successful in advocating for $40 million in funding for organics waste diversion infrastructure from the cap and trade program.

2018 Priorities

Disaster Relief & Emergency Management. The 2017 Wildfire season was particularly devastating in California, with Governor Brown declaring a state of emergency in October for nine counties and securing a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration. The aftermath and recovery from these fires will be a focus of impacted counties as well as CSAC, state regulatory agencies and the Legislature as we all work to assist counties in the recovery efforts. CSAC will work with impacted counties to ensure for effective communication and coordination with state and federal agencies. We will also partner with the Legislature to assist counties with fiscal relief and any regulatory assistance needed in recovery efforts.

Cannabis. California begins the process of licensing commercial medical and adult use cannabis businesses next year. While the state has a deadline of January 1, 2018 to begin the licensing process, local governments are not held to any particular timeframe. CSAC will work closely with counties to ensure that they have the information they need to develop local regulations, should they choose to allow cannabis businesses in their jurisdictions. CSAC staff will work closely with regulatory agencies to provide comments on emergency and permanent regulations and work together to address any issues that may arise. In addition, CSAC will continue to staff the CSAC Cannabis Working Group to provide a forum for learning and information exchange and input into any legislative and/or regulatory proposals.

Finally, staff will continue to work with the CSAC Finance Corporation on the development of a Joint Powers Authority for the purpose of developing and managing a statewide data platform that will gather, collect, and analyze information from a myriad of data sources into one resource, to help local governments ensure cannabis regulatory compliance and also provide necessary information to financial institutions that wish to work with the cannabis industry.

Healthy Forests & Working Lands. CSAC will continue to be an active member of the state’s interagency Tree Mortality Task Force, working with the Administration and counties to address the tree mortality crisis in California. We will continue to pursue funding through the budget and the state’s cap and trade program to provide adequate resources to assist in this effort. In addition, CSAC will continue to advocate for ongoing funding of Payment‐In‐Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments to counties and any potential for the reinstatement of the Williamson Act subvention program.

Climate Change & Resiliency. With the passage of AB 398 (E. Garcia), the state’s climate goals and cap and trade program have been reauthorized through 2030 by a super majority vote of the Legislature. In addition, AB 617 (C. Garcia) established a new local air quality program, focusing on areas of the state most burdened by pollution and requiring a new statewide strategy to combat air pollution from both mobile and stationary sources. CSAC will work with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and local air districts on the implementation this measure and the development of local community plans aimed at reducing air pollution in disadvantaged communities. In addition, CSAC will continue to advocate for cap and trade resources to address a number of local government priority issues, including waste diversion, forest health and tree mortality, and local government action.

CSAC will also focus on climate adaptation and resiliency and advocate for resources to help prepare counties for our changing climate.

Water Resources & Regulatory Issues. SB 5 (de León) was signed by the Governor this year and placed a $4 billion water and parks bond on the June 2018 ballot. Staff will take this measure to the AENR policy committee for recommendation of position in early 2018 and will engage as directed by the Committee. In addition, staff will continue to focus on the implementation of several key water issues, including the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the passage of SB 231 (Hertzberg) and the development of additional stormwater funding tools, and ongoing negotiations about water quality funding and conservation issues.

As it pertains to waste management, Cal Recycle is in the process of releasing draft regulations to implement SB 1383 (Lara, 2016). This measure requires a 50 percent reduction of organic waste by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. CSAC will work with the Administration and the County Engineers Association to provide input into this process and ensure that local governments are given the tools and the timelines necessary to help develop the infrastructure required to manage this portion of the waste stream.

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