SBC’s 2019 Legislative Outlook for the Sierra

The new 2019-2020 legislative session is officially underway. This means SBC’s Government Affairs team, under Chris Mertens’ astute leadership, is busy reviewing bill introductions, gathering information from partners and legislative staff, and identifying priority legislation for engagement by SBC and our coalition groups and colleagues.

This year, we are focusing on the following policy areas through our work with the SBC-led Sierra Consortium, Tahoe Truckee Mountain Housing Council, SBC’s Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership, California Tahoe Conservancy, Pioneer Community Energy, and other regional partners:

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  • Forest health and wildfire including biomass utilization, development of innovative wood product markets, identifying and mitigating wildfire impacts on vulnerable populations, and promoting workforce development and environmental justice;   
  • Clean energy including promoting utilization of distributed energy resources and energy efficiency programs, exploring mechanisms, such as community choice aggregation, regional energy networks, etc., to ensure that rural residents and businesses have access to financing and other programs they need, including for electrifying heating and transportation needs;
  • Climate resilience and conservation including supporting development of a climate resilience and/or water bond for the 2020 ballot with significant funding dedicated to the Sierra Nevada region, tracking and potentially supporting a charge on water users to fund programs that improve water quality and supply, engaging on implementation of programs under last year’s parks and water bond (Prop. 68) and regional climate collaborative bill (SB 1072) to achieve the maximum forest/watershed health, climate adaptation, and community sustainability benefits possible for our region, and advocating for California Climate Investments (CCI) funding for Sierra communities and natural resources.
  • Affordable housing including supporting policies that promote development and utilization of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), extending and expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, incentivizing mobile home parks to be sold to residents or community nonprofits, and supporting access to funding and affordable housing programs for tribal and farm worker communities.
  • Building relationships with the new Administration and key state agency leaders including in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Housing and Community Development, Wildlife Conservation Board, and Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

Although we are still in the process of identifying priorities, one bill has already floated to the top due to its potential impact on the Sierra Nevada region: SB 45, the California Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act introduced by Senator Allen (D-Santa Monica). If passed, SB 45 would place a bond on the 2020 statewide ballot aimed at helping the state prepare for the impacts of climate change, including reducing wildfire risk, restoring fire damaged areas, creating healthy forests and watersheds, reducing climate impacts on vulnerable populations, and protecting water supply and water quality.

SBC will be tracking this and many more bills, and we will reach out to you again when there are specific actions you can take to help secure beneficial policies and funding opportunities for our Sierra communities. Stay tuned!