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Legislative and Policy Issues

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Legislative and Policy Issues
Published on: 12/2/2012 12:00 AM


My overarching goal as Supervisor is to identify and support policies that enhance employment opportunities for our County, particularly in the fields of "green" technology, "high tech" and related fields, and encouraging economic models that strive toward economic and environmental sustainability.  

Support for local agriculture

There is a strong local and regional movement seeking regulatory relief that would enhance our “mom and pop” small businesses.

Two concepts that would aid small ag/home food producers: (a) deregulating “direct marketing” food production, meaning relaxing regulations of direct sales between producer and consumer, and (b) promoting “scalable regulations”, meaning working to have regulatory burdens proportionate to potential community impacts (small impacts, fewer regulations). While I recognize and support the importance of protecting the physical health of our citizens, I have also come to realize that “community health” also includes economic and social health (the latter refers to how, by supporting and partnering with our local businesses, we strengthen our community in ways other than just monetarily).

In support of these goals and concepts, I supported AB 1616, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), a “cottage food industry” bill that relaxes regulations and allow certain food products to be made in home kitchens and sold directly to consumers. This bill has now become law and Nevada County is working to implement its provisions.

I will continue to work with County staff and the community to seek ways to support local agriculture, and continue to attend ag-related events to learn of new opportunities and challenges.

Support for legislation to protect Domestic Workers' rights.

I supported AB 899 (Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco) which would give basic labor protections such as overtime pay, meal and rest breaks to a class of workers who have been working without them and who typically work for minimum wage.

Many of the people who do the most difficult jobs--caring for children, the elderly, and disabled; house cleaners and other in-home care workers --- do not enjoy such benefits. These jobs are not only hard, but crucial to society. They are also commonly held by immigrants and women. AB 889 failed in the legislature but is expected to be reintroduced, a necessary bill that would go a long way to address their abuse and exploitation by providing them the same basic rights as most Americans see as basic and necessary.

Development/implementation of local and regional energy resources

I strongly support the use of existing local and regional renewable energy resources to provide local sustainable jobs. Two current options with possibilities: biomass and biogas.  More details of my work on biomass is outlined on my Projects page. 
 
With regard to biogas, the passage of energy bill AB 1900 (also sponsored by Assemblyman Gatto) last year relaxes California regulations by allowing use of biogases produced by landfills, sewer plants and large animal farms. This use of local energy sources has the potential to reduce current disposal costs, provide new revenue streams and reduce harmful climate gases. California currently allows import of these gases from other states. 

I continue to explore options to better utilize energy resources in Nevada County, such as (1) the feasibility of a small cogeneration system to offset site energy needs, and (2) possibly forming a local task force to identify challenges and opportunities to expanding the use of solar energy.

Repeal or reform of the SRA Fire Fee

As the SRA (State Responsibility Area) Fire Fee has now been implemented, it has become clear that the program has significant flaws. The fee is intended to offset the higher costs of fire fighting in rural areas and the funds are to be used for fire safety education. It applies to anyone with property, defined as a living structure, and assumes that the property owner owns the land under the structure, thereby creating a nexus between the fee charged and the service rendered. However there is no consideration for mobile home owners who rent land but have no control over fire safety of the land, or for the economic hardship it places on very low income residents.

At my request on February 26, 2013, the Board of Supervisors agreed to support three bills authored by Senator Ted Gaines; SB 17, SB 125 and SB 147,  that would repeal or reform the SRA fee program.  I continue to lobby Sacramento independently to address what I consider inequitable and unfair treatment under this fee.

Supporting local community groups

I have lobbied for grant funds for the Hospitality House including obtaining support from the Board of Supervisors and key County department heads.

I continue to explore funding opportunities for the St. Joseph’s Cultural Center and the Northstar Julia Morgan house.

Member, Grass Valley Kiwanis, Center for Performing Arts, Think Local

and beyond…

Personal advocacy for important national and international issues related to environmental and energy security, alternative energy and related policies