Legislative Tracking: What’s Hot in California Climate Policy?

SBC’s Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership, Sierra CAMP, is currently tracking several climate change bills introduced in the legislature that we think may impact Sierra communities. I’ve laid out each of these bills below along with how they could affect your community. For more information about these bills or to learn how Sierra Business Council’s Government Affairs team is taking action, contact our Government Affairs Director, Chris Mertens at cmertens@sierrabusiness.org.


RimFireSB 45 (Allen-D) Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020

What it does: Would enact the Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020, which, if approved by the voters in 2020, would authorize $4.3 billion in bonds to finance projects to restore fire damaged areas, reduce wildfire risk, create healthy forest and watersheds, reduce climate impacts on urban areas and vulnerable populations, protect water supply and water quality, protect rivers, lakes, and streams, reduce flood risk, protect fish and wildlife from climate impacts, improve climate resilience of agricultural lands, and protect coastal lands and resources.

Impact to the Sierra: By far the highest profile and potentially highest impact measure we are tracking, SB 45 is a first-of-its-kind climate resilience bond funding measure. Moreover, In the current draft, there is over $1.5 million designated for regional climate adaptation efforts to build on the work of California’s 4th Climate Assessment regional approach and foster regional resilience strategies and collaborations. Other parts of the bond measure would fund natural resource restoration and community resilience projects, such as upper watershed restoration, green infrastructure, and forest thinning, while also funding additional co-benefits such as workforce development and carbon sequestration.

AB 352 (E. Garcia-D) California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: investment plan: Transformative Climate Communities Program

What it does: Would, beginning July 1, 2020, expand the activities and areas targeted for funding by Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund competitive grant programs. Among other things, the bill would prohibit grant criteria from precluding low-income communities from applying, would create population tiers to create different funding categories and scoring criteria for each tier, and expands the list of supported benefits to include collaboration and climate adaptation activities. The bill also would require the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) Program to prioritize funding low-income census tracts, and prohibit the program from limiting the geographic boundaries of proposed projects.

Impact to the Sierra: As Sierra CAMP has long asserted, many GGRF programs have historically been inaccessible to rural Sierra Nevada communities due to eligibility requirements like population density, disadvantaged community status, and geographic limitations (see our 2016 policy memo about the situation). This bill essentially addresses almost all of these concerns by expanding low-income and rural access, and expanding the list of activities to include adaptation activities such as water quality and supply protection, and drought resilience – key activities that are underfunded but badly needed not only for the health of the environment but necessary for protecting our already under-resourced Sierra communities from climate impacts. A similar but less all-encompassing bill, SB 351 (Hurtado), would require the Strategic Growth Council to consider applications from unincorporated areas in the TCC Program; these two bills combined could transform rural accessibility to the TCC program.

Other bills we are tracking, but haven’t made quite as big a splash, include:

  • AB 839 (Mullin-D): Would investigate policies that could reduce insurance premiums for resilience projects, would create a state strategic resilience COMM Capitol 2016 07framework, and create a fund for climate adaptation grants and financing. The direction and impact of this bill is still unclear.
  • SB 168 (Weickowski-D) Would create an officer position within the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to lead planning and coordination around state climate adaptation policy implementation.
  • AB 660 (Levine-D) Would mitigate urban heat island effects by increasing solar reflectivity of roofs beginning in 2030.
  • SB 160 (Jackson-D) and AB 477 (Cervantes D) Would require counties to integrate cultural competence and vulnerable populations into emergency plan updates.
  • AB 56 (Garcia-D) Would establish the California Clean Electricity Authority, a nonprofit, public benefit corporation regulated by the state that could procure electricity and finance renewable energy and serve as a backstop energy provider. 

All of these bills collectively will continue to transition California to a resilient and carbon net-neutral future. Stay tuned for more updates as the legislative season progresses!