By Deb Murphy
Since the Eastern Sierra has two county supervisors on Rural County Representatives of California’s executive committee, Chair Matt Kingsley from Inyo and Second Chair Stacy Corless from Mono, it seemed appropriate to share legislative updates that flow out of RCRC’s public information office.
First, Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced a bill, the Restoring Local Control Over Public Infrastructure Act, which would allow local governments to continue to determine where wireless facilities will be located.
In an e-mail, Kingsley stated “the bill is really in response to wireless carriers proposing bills that take away the local jurisdictions ability to regulate and negotiate for the placement of wireless facilities. If local jurisdictions can maintain the authority over wireless facilities that gives us the opportunity to leverage service to less profitable areas for placement in more profitable areas.”
According to an RCRC press release, the Act would incentivize “broadband deployment to those rural areas that remain unserved and underserved.”
The best example in the Eastern Sierra is the Tri-Valley area along the Hwy. 6 corridor.
Next, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the SAFE Banking Act that would allow banks and credit unions to accept cannabis business money. Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law and listed as a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD, banks are prohibited from accepting what is considered “drug money.”
Only one Republican showed up for the hearing—Committee Chair Mike Crapo—not a good sign for quick passage. The Democrats, according to the press release, may gum up the Act over a concern individuals convicted on marijuana charges are involved in current legal operations.
Also, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to make good on reimbursements to California for state fire agencies’ participation in fighting fires on federal lands under the California Fire Assistance Agreement. The Forest Service disputed portions of the $72 million suppression efforts for 2018.
The Agreement expires in 2020 and will have to be renegotiated. The press release states “the agreement marks the end of a bitter feud between the Administration and California that began with a series of comments blaming the state’s environmental and forest management laws” for last year’s devastating fire seasons.
Remember the “Finland rakes their forests” comment?