December 2020 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate


The Legislature has adjourned until Monday, December 7, 2020. On the 7th they will convene the 2021-22 Regular Session and adopt rules of the session and pick their leaders. They will then recess until January 4, 2021. At this point – it is unclear if 2021 will look like the 2020 Coronavirus session or look more like a normal year.

Reports of Interest

Public Policy Institute of California released a report titled “Water Partnerships between Cities and Farms in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley,” it finds “significant declines in water demand” by urban Southern California has “reduced pressure on supplies during normal and wet years,” making “future droughts the primary concern,” meanwhile in the “overdrafted San Joaquin Valley” there is “heightened interest in expanding water supplies and underground storage,” recommends that by “coordinating the location of infrastructure investments” partnerships between Southern California cities and San Joaquin Valley farms could “help alleviate groundwater overdraft in the valley while building drought resilience in Southern California,” noting that “such partnerships would support Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio.”

Dept. of Water Resources released “Water Year 2020: Summary Information,” finds overall precipitation in state that fell between Oct. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020 was “below average” and while “Northern California was mostly dry, parts of Southern California experienced above average precipitation;” overall reservoir storage through 9/30 projected to be 93% of average.

PEW Research released Work Zone Crashes Climb During Pandemic. “Travel on all roads and streets dropped 40% in April and 26% in May, compared with last year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. But fatal crashes increased in some states. And while traffic volume has picked back up in recent months, work zone crews still are encountering speeders and more-distracted drivers…. It’s been particularly deadly in Michigan, where in just one week in September, vehicles struck three county employees and a state contractor in separate incidents, killing two… And it’s not just workers who get hurt. Drivers and passengers also suffer…”

Environmental Research Letters released Intensified Burn Severity in California’s Northern Coastal Mountains by Drier Climatic Conditions. “According to the historical data, about 36% of all fires between 1984 and 2017 in the mapped area burned at high severity, with dry years experiencing much higher burn severity… The research highlights the importance of careful land-use planning and fuel management in the state’s most vulnerable areas to reduce the risk of large, severe fires as the climate becomes drier and warmer.”

Bay Conservation and Development Commission released Adapting to Rising Tides Bay Area: Short Report Summary of Regional Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Study. “In the highest risk but least likely scenario, Sea level rise, barring other climate impacts like drought or wildfires, will most likely submerge between $8 and $10 billion in property by 2060, the report’s authors said. The report analyzes the impacts of a 48” Total Water Level (TWL) scenario and finds that this will mean the loss of thousands of jobs, 60% of the state’s iconic beaches and miles of rail and transit lines, the [Legislative Analyst’s Office] warned. All of this would have impacts on beach access, water treatment plants, roads and even airports.”  Also, for more background information, Sea levels globally have risen about eight inches since 1880 and is predicted to worsen as the climate crisis grows, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports. Also, the goal of the state’s Ocean Protection Council is to prepare for 3.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050.

Appointments of Interest by the Governor:

As Southern California regional director at the California High-Speed Rail Authority: LaDonna DiCamillo, Long Beach, regional assistant vice president of state government affairs at the BNSF Railway Company since 2014.

As director of risk management and project controls at the California High-Speed Rail Authority: Jamey Matalka, Sacramento, assistant chief financial officer at the Authority since 2016.

To the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board: Letitia Clark, Tustin, district director of public affairs and governmental relations at the South Orange County Community College District since 2018 and a member of the Tustin City Council 2016.




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