September 2017 – This Month in Sacramento

Go Back


Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate


The Legislature finished with their work and left on their summer recess on July 21. they will return on August 21 for the final month of this first year of the Legislative session.

Before departing, the Legislature passed an extension of California’s Cap and Trade legislation (sometimes referred to as Cap and Tax). Gov. Jerry Brown quickly signed the bill AB 398 (Garcia, Eduardo) that extends the center-piece statutory provisions in California’s quest to solve global climate change through greenhouse gas reduction.

Brown was joined by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who signed the state’s original cap-and-trade bill in 2006, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assemblymember Garcia and dozens of local, environmental and business leaders on Treasure Island to sign the bill. The event was open to invited guests and credentialed media only.

The final bill includes tax cuts and prevents local air regulator boards from setting their own rules on emissions that go above and beyond the cap-and-trade program – a provision particularly irksome for the environmental community and local pollution authorities.

Brown observed California is “a nation-state in a globalizing world,” and called cap-and-trade “one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized, sustainable future.”

You can read details about AB 398 here.

The Air Resources Board, coincidentally, released California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Program. “The state’s emissions in 2015 dropped just 0.3% from the prior year, according to data released … by the California Air Resources Board. The board’s detailed annual greenhouse gas inventories are issued more than a year after the fact. While emissions from electrical plants fell in 2015, driven down partly by the rapid growth of large solar facilities, the amount of greenhouse gases spewed by cars and planes rose. That may be due to low fuel prices and an improving economy, both of which typically entice people to drive more.” (SFGate)

Other Legislation

ASCE supported AB 1523 (Obernolte R) that will authorize the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority to use the design-build contracting process for local agencies was approved by the Legislature and sent to the Governor for his consideration.

ASCE supported AB 1671 (Caballero D) took an interesting turn. As approved in committee, it would have required the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to update its backflow protection and cross-connection regulations. After leaving committee, it was substantially amended. Now the bill allows the state board to implement its backflow protection and cross-connection standards through the adoption of a “policy handbook” (the bill does not specify which “policy handbook”) that is not subject to the notice and hearing requirements of California’s Administrative Procedures Act. Caballero also amended her AB 851 that would extend county’s current authority to use construction manager at-risk construction contracts. The bill now will “prohibit a construction manager at-risk entity from being prequalified or shortlisted or awarded a contract unless that entity provides an enforceable commitment to the county that the entity and its subcontractors at every tier will use a skilled and trained workforce to perform all work on the project.” This is boiler-plate language of the State Building and Construction Trades Council that exempts contracts pursuant to a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) from its requirements.

Recent Reports

Science released “Estimating Economic Damage from Climate Change in the United States.” “Unmitigated climate change will make the United States poorer and more unequal, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The poorest third of counties could sustain economic damages costing as much as 20% of their income if warming proceeds unabated. States in the South and lower Midwest, which tend to be poor and hot already, will lose the most, with economic opportunity traveling northward and westward…. The study is the first of its kind to price warming using data and evidence accumulated by the research community over decades. From this data, the team estimates that for each one degree Fahrenheit (0.55°C) increase in global temperatures, the U.S. economy loses about 0.7% of Gross Domestic Product, with each degree of warming costing more than the last.” (, Jun. 29, 2017).

American Immigration Council released Foreign-Born STEM Workers in the United States. “Of the nation’s 50 states, California ranks second in its proportion of foreign-born STEM workers—one percentage point lower than New Jersey, where 43% are immigrants…. When the health and social science occupations are added to the California STEM analysis, foreign-born workers make up a slightly smaller share of our workforce: 37%…. The study also found that the nation’s foreign-born STEM workers are more highly educated than their U.S.-born co-workers…. As demand grows in these fields, so will the need for an educated workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that STEM occupations will increase about 13% from 2012 to 2022, compared to 11% projected for all occupations.” (San Jose Mercury News, July 14, 2017).

Brookings Institution released Modernizing Government’s Approach to Transportation and Land Use Data: Challenges and Opportunities. “[T]his report catalogs emerging data sets related to transportation and land use, and assesses the ease by which they can be integrated into how public agencies manage the built environment. It finds that there is reason for the hype; we have the ability to know more about how humans move around today than at any time in history. But, despite all the obvious opportunities, not addressing core challenges will limit public agencies’ ability to put all that data to use for the collective good.”

Caltrans has released its 2017 State Highway System Management Plan, outlining its five-year maintenance plan and 10-year highway operations and protection program plan, notes “about $19 billion in SB 1 revenues will be invested repairing our state highway system in the next decade,” resulting in “an additional 17,000 miles of pavement repaired; an additional 500 bridges repaired or replaced; an additional 55,000 culverts and drains repaired; and an additional 7,700 signals, signs and sensors repaired or replaced.” 

Southern California Water Committee has released a polling memo from Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, reports the Governor’s California WaterFix project “has support from nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Southern California voters,” says “voters favor the infrastructure improvement project by 62% when provided an objective summary of it” and “after hearing positive messaging regarding California WaterFix, support for the project jumps to 71%.” 


Governor Brown has made the following appointments:

As director of the California Department of Water Resources: Grant Davis, Petaluma, general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency.

As deputy director of the State Water Project at Dept. of Water Resources: Joel Ledesma, Sacramento, various positions at Dept. of Water Resources since 1991, including assistant division chief of operations and maintenance.

As assistant director of public affairs at the California Department of Water Resources: Erin Mellon, Sacramento, communications and outreach advisor at the CA Natural Resources Agency. 

Go Back