Newly Signed Bills

By Published On: October 22, 2010

The governor signed into law this week SB 855--legislation attached to the state budget agreement. This Resources “trailer bill” requires the California Air Resources Board and other state agencies involved in carrying out AB 32, the state’s climate change law, to prepare a zero-based budget for greenhouse gas reduction programs, noted agency legislative director Rob Oglesby. Under a zero-based budget, CARB and the other agencies will have to start with a clean slate, outline the activities needed to carry out AB 32, and then detail the related expenses. Traditionally agencies merely take their previous year’s budget and adjust the expenses to reflect changing costs and any program alterations. The zero-based budget is due to the Legislature on April 1. Speaking at an October 21 meeting of the Air Board, Oglesby also pointed out that the new law requires the agency to improve public availability of documents related to its regulatory activities. SB 855 also includes provisions hiking the power plant certification fee and removing the fee exemption for renewable projects. Certification fees are raised to $250,000 with the per MW fee doubled to $500. The permit costs are capped at $750,000 (Current, October 15). In further reviewing the year’s legislative scorecard, Oglesby noted the governor vetoed SB 1405 by Assemblymember Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). The bill would have dedicated 10 percent of any money raised by auctioning emissions rights under an AB 32 carbon cap-and-trade program to a community benefits fund. The fund could have financed things like solar roofs, energy efficiency, health programs, and other environmental measures in so-called environmental justice communities. These are usually polluted working class neighborhoods next to large industries. Environmental justice advocates told the Air Board they plan to press for enactment of the legislation again next year. The governor this week also signed legislation providing financial support to San Mateo County and to homeowners in San Bruno whose residences were damaged by the exploding natural gas pipe last month. ABx6 11 by Assemblymember Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) specifically allows homeowners to file for a tax refund for the losses on their homes. Impacted homeowners also are allowed to carry forward losses for 15 years. The bill further directs the state to reimburse San Mateo County and local schools for any revenue loss resulting from lower property taxes.

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