Rural Caucus Newsletter final 2019

Letter to the Rural Caucus from Chair Joy Sterling
HELLO 2020!
310Days unt il Tuesday November 3rd

Dear Fellow Rural Caucus Members,

I am very excited and optimistic about 2020. I hope you are, too and
that you got re-energized during the Holidays. We have much to accomplish!

Job #1: Defeat Donald Trump. I know that’s obvious, but visualization is always positive. Unity will be key. I have made a personal vow to give my utmost to our nominee … whomever.
It is equally imperative we defend the 46 Congressional seats we won in the midterms. I believe we can add to our majority, provided we get out the vote. Go Audrey Denny and Brynne Kennedy!

We need to maintain our super-majority in the State Legislature and carry our very own Elizabeth Betancourt into the Assembly.
The primary role of the Rural Caucus, as an arm of the Party, is to help our Counties with electioneering in every way we can. This year we have very specific metrics laid out in the Work Plan that we submitted to the CDP Rules Committee for our Caucus re-certification: It is very ambitious. Please click here to read it. I hope you will feel inspired, motivated, excited and eager to get it done.
Winning won’t be easy,but we are certainly up to the challenge.

December 29, 2019
Get OUT  the VOTE

BROADBAND FOR ALL

We are making progress
According to Lenny Mendonca, Chief Economic and Business Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), Rural Broadband is a top priority in the Governor?s Office and a team is being put in place to effectuate a plan, which means, we need to continue to lean in at every opportunity to ensure Broadband for All, is developed and executed.
We want to be sure that agriculture and our rural communities are well represented.
Presumably the California Broadband Council (CBC) will be key and will receive direction from theGovernor’s Office.
The CBC was established in 2010by legislation (S.B. 1462 – Padilla) to cut across the silos and coordinate the efforts of various state agencies- Department of Transportation, Department of Education, CalOES, CPUC, etc. – meeting three times a year.
It will now include Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross, the State Librarian and the Governor ‘s Tribal Advisor , thanks to new legislation that goes into effect January 1st.
On January 10th, the Governor will submit his 2020-21 budget, which hopefully will include funds for Broadband infrastructure.
In the state legislature, we are helping get two bills off the ground: One possibly in the senate to secure funds for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to network five of the state fairgrounds-as prioritized by California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) – for public safety grade, open access communications for emergency purposes. As we know all too well, our
fair grounds increasingly are being pressed into service as staging grounds, evacuation centers. Getting five key fairgrounds wired would be a solid accomplishment and would serve as proof of concept.
On the Assembly side, Asm Robert Rivas has agreed to author a bill to light up the Fairgrounds . Mary Kaems , Policy Consultant to the Speaker (and Rural Caucus member), is shepherding this through the process. Tracy Rhine at Rural Counties Representatives of California (RCRC)is actively engaged. Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis (also a Rural Caucus member) has said she would support legislation as President of the State Senate and as she campaigned on expanding rural broadband.
Email me for a newly updated “State of Play” for California Broadband. This is a living document in the sense that it is continuously edited and updated. The first iteration was a letter I wrote to then candidate Gavin Newsom in August 2018.
Persistence!

Water Issues
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), signed into law in 2014 by Jerry Brown , becomes a reality on January 31st when the local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies communities that depend on agriculture, some of them already disadvantaged.
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) estimates 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland will be removed from production. Other estimates place this significantly higher.
The job loss will be painful. And , so far  no policy is in place to mitigate the consequences.
This is one of the key issues being addressed by the Rural Caucus Water Policy Discussion Group. First and foremost is ensuring low income families receive support during the economic transition when productive agricultural land is fallowed.
We should see new bills (in 2020) that extend coverage, address affordability, help with community wildfire-mitigation, set standards for “defensible space” and fund incentives for homeowners to achieve those standards.
Already in the hopper is SB 45 (Allen, Portantino , Stern – with Mike McGuire as co-author), which will be on the March ballot. It is for a total of $4 billion with $1.6B for wildfire prevention and $1.1B for safe drinking water.
(GSAs) in the most severely over-drafted water basins have to submit their sustainability plans, setting limits on how much groundwater can be pumped out of wells over the next 20 years. The law is an absolute necessity, but the economic impact will be hard on rural ranchers.

Wildfire Insurance ICYMI:

On December 19th, Insurance Commissioner
Ricardo Lara announced more Zip codes where insurers cannot drop homeowners for wildfire risk,
protecting one million homes from insurance non-renewal for a least one year from the date when those areas were declared a diaster.

This thanks to a bill Lara authored when he was in the Assembly that just went into affect this year.

Caveat: the bill covers 2019 wildfires; sadly not 2018 and 2017. But it is a step in the right direction.

CENSUS 2020
The census is the sole basis for allocating the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives.

California is likely to maintain our 53 seats. But if the census does a poor job of reaching hard-to-count populations and immigrant communities, it could miss more than 1.6 million residents, and the state could easily lose a seat. The census will also be used to redraw district lines; its accuracy is essential to correctly representing local communities. An under-count puts federal funding at risk.
We can help with outreach and make sure we are all counted.

“HIGHLIGHT” OFTHE CONVENTION
We had a great Convention. It wasstandingroom only for theRural Caucus meeting. The energy in the room was exhilarating.
Hands down, the “highlight” was Regional Chair Glenn Glazer’s reading of his manifesto about PG&E … by flashlight.
It was dramatic and impactful and drove home the point that PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs are unacceptable.
micro grids, the San Jose proposal to convert PG&E into a non-profit cooperative and, preferably, a state takeover.
however the utility is restructured, that Rural California is protected . Too often, our rural communities are left with next to no assets and the lion’s share of risk .

IMPORTANT
Glenn made three main points:
First was a review of the horrifying history of PG&E, from 1952 and the poisoning of Hinkley,Californiato today.
The second part of the speech examined where we are now and how PG&E’s negligence got us here. His point: While PG&E may claim in a twisted logic sort of way that PSPSs are necessary that’sonly true because of their prior lack of maintenance and modernization of their infrastructure.
The concluding part was a look at the various solutions that have been proposed, including investor buyout,
Holding \ PG&E Accountable
The fate of PG&E will be decided by the bankruptcy court. It must emerge from bankruptcy by the end of June to participate in the state’s go-forward wildfire fund – billions of dollars to help utilities pay for future wildfire claims. The law also requires PG&E to spend at least $5 billion on safety improvements to access the fund.

DEADLINE:
The deadline for wildfire victims to file claims against PG&E is Tuesday December 31st.
During the holidays, a court appointed envoy, his staff, volunteers, community groups and churches have all been racing to find as many eligible victims as possible. Efforts include taping fliers to boxes at a neighborhood pizzeria, meeting with wildfire response agencies and working the food line at the church.

RECOMMENDED READING
The Rural plank is our road map everyone should read it on our Caucus website.
Also on our website is a two-page “Layman’s Guide to Lobbying”, written by Regional Chair Dean Rewerts
I highly recommend a guest column in the Mountain Democrat: “The Camp Fire – One Year Later and the Impact Continues ” by

Josh Eldler ,Chair of the El Dorado County Democrats and ER doctor atUC Davis Health.

COMMITTEES AND DISCUSSION GROUPS TO JOIN
Water PolicyDiscussionGroup
The group’s objective is to exercise influence on California water policy by means of the structures and activities of the California Democratic Party, the object being a fair and sustainable system. Contact Discussion Group Chair Mike Smith .
Cannabis Committee
Join the conversation on Facebook and by contacting Committee Chair Helene Rouvier.
Rural Health Discussion Group
This discussion group is just in the beginning stages. Rural Health Care is such an important issue … and it is key to our work on expanding Rural Broadband for telemedicine.To join, please contact Kim Munson.
January
1/1 New statutes take effect
1/6 State Legislature reconvenes
1/10 Governor submits 2020-21 budget
1/18 Women’s March

1/20Martin Luther King Day
1/22CPUC EnBanc:”The Future of California’s Communications Grid” in San Francisco
1/31 Last day for each house of the Legislature to pass bills introduced during the first year of the 2019-2020 session
February
2/3 Primary vote by mail begins
2/17Deadline for Primary voter registration
2/21 Last day for new legislation to be introduced in the Legislature
March
3/3 California Primary
3 /7 Sonoma County Dems Crab Feed with Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins
3/20 CDP Executive Board Meeting in Visalia
April
4/1 CensusDay
4/22 Earth Day 50th Anniversary with protests planned at banks that lend to the fossil fuel industry.

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