Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources
Bills of Interest
April 20, 2017
AB 890 (Medina) would require an environmental review of proposed local initiatives and significantly restrict or prohibit certain initiatives from appearing on the ballot. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday, April 24. CSAC opposes AB 890, which would raise serious concerns for local governments on many fronts. First, AB 890 limits and restricts what appears on the ballot based on the subject matter of the proposed initiative and its potential for environmental impact, thereby challenging the constitutional right for citizens to utilize the initiative process. Additionally, AB 890 would place a significant burden on local governments, which would be required to conduct costly environmental reviews on proposed initiatives – work that would result in a large impact to both costs and workload. And, AB 890 presents significant risk of litigation. While local ballot measures are not currently subject to CEQA, there is a significant opportunity and requirement for environmental review in established local land use processes, so AB 890 would add to the burden without improving environmental outcomes.
SB 252 (Dodd) would place limitations on new water wells in critically overdrafted basins. The bill will next be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Wednesday, April 26. CSAC has concerns with SB 252. Currently, issuance of well permits is a ministerial action under local ordinances, and is not subject to CEQA; SB 252 raises questions about this. Counties also have concerns related to how these new requirements would fit into the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), and what the obligation would be for the local government to make findings based on information provided by well applicants. CSAC, along with RCRC and the League, are working to address these concerns.