Legislative Update

September - October 2017
Brian White, FLC Legislative Advocate
KP Public Affairs

Unfortunately, the successes from these aforementioned issues left little room and time for legislators to vote on some other important energy and resource-related bills as they remained on the sidelines due to significant opposition from various groups and political brinkmanship between leaders of the Senate and Assembly. With respect to forest resource issues, while there weren't any significant policies enacted this year, there's a possibility that some reforms may be brought to the table next year to help small forest landowners while also addressing continued concerns about challenges facing the biomass industry.

Unlike the first year of a new session, the Legislature will need to act quickly in the second year when they reconvene to beat the January 31 deadline for moving all bills that never made it out of their house origin. Several forest-related bills fall in this category, and they'll be mixed in with a slew of new bill introductions to consider. There will also be two big energy issues that will be at the top of Governor Brown's and the Legislature's priority list – an effort to enact a 100% renewable portfolio standard (SB 100) and efforts to push a plan that would expand California's energy grid into a western regional entity. Last, other so-called two-year bills will likely be revived, including FLC-opposed SB 49, which would require various California agencies to adopt new environmental standards and give citizens a private right of action business and landowners if they didn't comply with a host of federal laws that may be perceived as more stringent than California's laws using a baseline standard of January 19, 2017.

Below is a status update on some of the key bills FLC tracked this year as of October 9:

  • AB 109 (Cap-and-Trade spending bill) – Signed by Governor
  • AB 211 (Bigelow) SRA Fee Report – Held in Senate Appropriations (died)
  • AB 362 (Wood-D) CFIP Loans for Landowners – Held in Senate Appropriations (died)
  • AB 425 (Caballero-D) La Malfa Exemption Roads Work – Held on Senate Floor (two-year bill)
  • AB 920 (Aguiar-Curry-D) Baseload Procurement Plans – Held in Senate Appropriations (died)
  • AB 1066 (Aguiar-Curry-D) Public Works and Tree Removal – Signed by Governor
  • AB 1433 (Wood-D) Cap-and-Trade Dollars to Protect Open Space – Held on Senate Floor (two-year bill)
  • AB 1391 (Patterson-R) CFIP Funds for Vegetation Management – Held in Assembly Appropriations (died)
  • AB 975 (Friedman-D) Expansion of Wild and Scenic Rivers – Held on Assembly Floor (two-year bill)
  • AB 1342 (Flora-R) Cap-and-Trade for Forest Projects – Held in Assembly Appropriations (died)
  • SB 49 (de Leon-D) No Backsliding on Federal Laws – Held on Assembly Floor (two-year bill)
  • SB 100 (de Leon) 100 Percent Renewable Portfolio Standard – Held on Assembly Floor (two-year bill)
  • SB 473 (Hertzberg) California Endangered Species Act – Held on Assembly Floor (two-year bill)

Regulatory Update
Board of Forestry – The Forest Practice and Management Committees are beginning the process of looking at the stocking standards (both point count and basal area). The current regulations are largely unchanged since their enactment more than 30 years ago. FLC described several issues of concern to small landowners. UC Berkeley is hosting through its Main Lecture series a working group to review current practices in light of better tree survival rates, overstocking of young trees, the drought, insect epidemics and climate change, and possibly recommend potential changes to the Committees and the Board. It is unlikely that changes would be effective before January 2019 at the earliest. FLC Board members are participating in the working group. In connection with this process, you will be receiving a short survey the will help identify current problems via email. Please complete the survey and/or forward it to your forester as soon as possible. This may be the only opportunity to suggest changes for a long time in the future.

Thinking ahead – there is a new publication on the California Spotted Owl (primarily from the Pit River south through the Sierra Nevada mountains) that was just published by the U.S. Forest Service. This may be the next species of major concern so you might begin planning. We will provide a link to download a copy in the near future.

Track Bills by visiting http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov and use the Quick Bill Search function.