March 2021 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate


2021-22 Legislative Session – Focus on the Budget

The Legislature has focused entirely on preliminary budget hearings for the 2020-21 fiscal year. While the Legislative Analyst and the Governor disagree on how much of a surplus of taxpayer dollars the State will enjoy, the Governor proposes to budget more than $19 billion in new spending for schools and community colleges. He offers to spend most of this amount on three main priorities:

  • Paying Down Deferrals ($8.4 Billion One Time). The budget pays down $8.4 billion of the $12.5 billion in payments deferred in the June 2020 budget plan.
  • Providing In-Person Instruction and Expanding Academic Support ($6.6 Billion One Time). The Governor proposes immediate action to provide $2 billion in one-time grants to incentivize schools to offer in-person instruction for younger students and students with high needs, potentially as soon as February 16, 2021.
  • Funding Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) ($2.2 Billion Ongoing). This includes a 3.84 percent COLA for the Local Control Funding Formula and a 1.5 percent COLA for other education programs.

New Legislation

ACR 15 & ACR 16 (Luz Rivas) These measures recognize Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, respectively.

SB 22 (Glazer) Like last year’s Proposition 13, SB 22 would place on the ballot the Public Preschool, K–12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2022 as a state general obligation bond act that would provide $15,000,000,000 to construct and modernize education facilities. It requires the department of general services to prioritize projects for funding, including a project labor agreement (PLA).

SB 222 and SB 223 (Dodd) Would establish the Water Affordability Assistance Fund in the State Treasury to help provide water affordability assistance, for both drinking water and wastewater services, to low-income ratepayers and ratepayers experiencing economic hardship in California, and; would apply those provisions in existing law that prohibit specific water systems from discontinuing residential water service for nonpayment, on and after July 1, 2022, to a very small community water system, defined as a public water system that supplies water to 200 or fewer service connections used by year-long residents.

SB 230 (Portantino) Would require the State Water Resources Control Board to establish, maintain, and direct an ongoing, dedicated program called the Constituents of Emerging Concern Program to assess the state of information and recommend areas for further study on, among other things, the occurrence of constituents of emerging concern (CEC) in drinking water sources and treated drinking water.

SB 273 (Hertzberg) Would authorize a municipal wastewater agency, as defined, to enter into agreements with entities responsible for stormwater management to manage stormwater and dry weather runoff, to acquire, construct, expand, operate, maintain, and provide facilities for specified purposes relating to managing stormwater and dry weather runoff, and to levy taxes, fees, and charges consistent with the municipal wastewater agency’s existing authority to fund projects undertaken under the bill.

Reports of Interest

The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has released its report “A Framework for Evaluating State-Level Green Stimulus Proposals,” it finds “potential for state-funded efforts to have meaningful [economic] stimulative impacts is likely limited by budget constraints due to the state requirement to pass a balanced budget,” recommends: “Legislature limits the amount of emphasis it places on potential economic stimulus benefits when evaluating state-funded green stimulus proposals. Because the potential environmental and climate merits of such proposals are likely to be easier to identify, we recommend that the Legislature instead base its funding decisions primarily on those factors.”

The LAO released “2021-22 Budget: Overview of the Governor’s Budget,” summarizes “Governor’s budget structure and major proposals for the Legislature, including any themes that emerged as we conducted our preliminary review,” concludes “revenues are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, and state costs have not risen as dramatically as anticipated.”

California Independent System Operator, California Public Utilities Commission, and California Energy Commission have released the “Final Root Cause Analysis” on “causes” of rotating power outages that occurred in August of 2020, finds “the three major causal factors contributing to the outages were related to extreme weather conditions, resource adequacy and planning processes, and market practices;” says new “contingency plan will draw from actions taken statewide under the leadership of the Governor’s Office to mitigate the anticipated shortfall from August 17 through 19, 2020.”

Public Policy Institute of California has released its report, “California’s Future,” outlines the state’s “most pressing policy challenges in several key areas: criminal justice, economy, education, safety net, water, and a changing climate, finds that “California lost more than 3 million jobs between February and May 2020—an 18% decline” and that “all major labor market indicators (employment, unemployment, and labor force participation) saw bigger changes than in any economic crisis over the past three decades,” says “policymakers need to prioritize direct support for struggling workers and industries” that were hit hardest by this recession.

California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment released a report “Achieving the Human Right to Water in California” findings include “water quality is worse in disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged communities than non-disadvantaged communities” and “among the systems with data, small and very small systems face greater affordability challenges compared to larger systems.”


Appointments of Interest by the Governor

Reappointed to the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and GeologistsCoby King, Los Angeles, President and CEO at High Point Strategies since 2013. (Public member)

To the California Water CommissionAmy Cordalis, McKinleyville, general counsel for the Yurok Tribe since 2016; Kimberly Gallagher, Davis, farm operations manager at Erdman Farms since 2014 and owner and operator of Gallagher Farming Company since 2009; Fern Steiner, San Diego, attorney at Smith, Steiner, Vanderpool APC since 1987 and a shareholder there since 1993.

To the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control BoardNicholas Avdis, Sacramento, of counsel at the Thomas Law Group since 2013; Sean Yang, Sacramento, medical imaging specialist engineer at Kaiser Permanente since 2016.

To the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control BoardH. David Nahai, Los Angeles, President of David Nahai Consulting Services Inc. and partner Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard and Smith since 2010; Michael Mendez, Long Beach, assistant professor in the Dept. of Urban Planning and Public Policy at UC Irvine since 2019.



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