The lowest previous turnout percentage of registered voters in a non-presidential general election was 51% in 2002. Many pundits said low voter turnout resulted in Republicans picking up enough legislative seats in the state Senate and (possibly)the Assembly to deny Democrats the two-thirds supermajority they achieved in 2012 until earlier this year when three Democrats in the Senate were swept up in political scandals.The GOP victories will make it difficult for Democratic lawmakers to extend the tax increase California voters approved in 2012, among other priorities.
One of this week’s biggest winners was Proposition 1, a $7.5billion water bond, which won by well more than a 2:1 margin. Prop 1 will fund drought resiliency projects, including water treatment, watershed management and water storage, and it couldn’t have passed at a better time since, according to a first-of-its kind report issued earlier this week by the State Water Resources Control Board, most regions of the state are falling well below the 20% water conservation benchmark set by the governor last January when he declared a drought emergency.
The “Emergency Regulation Update,” which was based on mandatory reporting from roughly 400 water suppliers, will be updated regularly and a workshop will be held next month in Southern California to increase compliance and enforcement. According to the report, 87% of urban water suppliers have implemented mandatory restrictions on water use.
Expect regulators to push for more mandatory measures since, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, and the Climate Prediction Center’s El Niño Watch, California's record-setting drought will likely persist or intensify this winter, with little or no help from an El Niño event - if one occurs.
There is a lot news about climate change and sea level rise
in this week’s issue of the WAVE, so we thought this was a good time to
review what’s being done at the state level and where information
about climate change and sea level rise can be found on state websites.
The Climate Action Team is comprised of state agency secretaries and the heads of other agencies, boards and departments, led by the Secretary of Cal/EPA. The Climate Action Team has developed an online resource known as the Climate Change Portal, which contains a wealth of information on climate change, sea-level rise and related issues.
The Climate Change Portal contains a wealth of information, including three climate change assessments and aClimate Adaptation Strategy. In addition, the portal has links to the state’s Adaptation Planning Guide, Cal-Adapt, California Local Energy Assurance Planning
Many cities, counties, and regional agencies have begun to address the challenges of sea level rise. Numerous efforts have been completed or are underway, including studies, modeling, mapping, cost-benefit analyses, and vulnerability assessments. The information that exists is not centrally located, but found piecemeal among many agencies and entities.
A recent law, AB 2516 (Gordon) (Ch. 522, Statutes of 2014), requires the Natural Resources Agency, in collaboration with the Ocean Protection Council, to create, update biannually, and post on an Internet website a Planning for Sea Level Rise Database describing steps being taken throughout the state to prepare for, and adapt to, sea level rise.
AB 2516 was drafted after the Assembly Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the Economy held a number of public hearings. The database will be created on or before January 1, 2016.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!
Last week we reported that Gov. Brown approved the nation's first
statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags by signing SB 270
and that opponents of SB 270, including the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), are in the process of gathering signatures for an initiative that would overturn the new law.
Roughly 505,000 signatures must be collected over the next few months in order to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot. If the initiative qualifies, the provisions of SB 270 would be automatically postponed until at least November 2016. Proponents of the new law are coordinating a 90-day public awareness campaign to prevent the initiative from qualifying. We'll keep everyone posted as developments occur.
Governor Brown has signed the nation’s first statewide plastic bag ban into law. The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 1, 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and allow the sale of recycled paper or reusable bags for no less than 10 cents.
Stores affected by the new law may retain the paper bag fee to pay the cost of complying with the law, the cost of providing paper or reusable bags to persons on public assistance, or for educational campaigns designed to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags. More than 125 local governments have already banned plastic bags.
SB 270 allows cities and counties or other public agencies that have adopted a bag ban to continue to enforce the ordinance if it was adopted before September 1, 2014. Any amendments to those ordinances after January 1, 2015 are pre-empted by the provisions of the bill except if the amendment only increases the amount the store charges for a reusable bag to no less than 10 cents. Bag ban violators may be assessed a civil fine by a city, county, or the state, and the enforcing agency may retain any fines collected.
SB 270 appropriated $2 million for loans to plastic bag manufacturers that wish to re-tool and manufacture reusable bags. Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation, Azul, 7th Generation Advisors, and Californian’s Against Waste were the main proponents of SB 270, while the bill’s major opposition came from a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers known as the “American Progressive Bag Alliance.” The latter group is in the process of gathering signatures for an initiative that would overturn the new law. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico also have pending legislation that would ban single-use bags.
Gov. Brown has until next Tuesday to sign or veto legislation. Yesterday, the governor signed 47 bills and vetoed ten. One of the bills signed into law (SB 1281) requires more transparency about water use in oil and gas drilling. Proponents of the bill say substantial amounts of water are used in some oil-extraction methods, such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water mixed with sand and chemicals is injected into rock to tap oil and gas reserves. Like several bills the governor has signed recently, SB 1281 gained momentum as the state’s drought worsened.
Two high profile bills that governor has not yet acted on include SB 270 (Padilla), which would impose a statewide ban on single use plastic shopping bags, and SB 968 (Hill). The latter bill would authorize the State Lands Commission to negotiate with the owner of land near Half Moon Bay or exercise eminent domain to provide public access to Martin’s Beach.
SB may have been rendered moot Wednesday when a San Mateo County judge ruled tentatively that the landowner violated the Coastal Act by denying public access across his property to the beach. The case raises some interesting legal issues since the judge ruled that the landowner will need to apply to the Coastal Commission for a coastal development permit, but SB 968 would require the landowner to deal with State Lands. Although an appeal of this week’s court ruling is expected, SB 968 may limit the landowner’s remedies. We’ll continue tracking SB 270 and SB 968 and keep everyone posted.