Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California’s complex water management shapes spending

Storm drains empty into the American River on Dec. 11, 2014.
Storm drains empty into the American River on Dec. 11, 2014. aseng@sacbee.com

Nothing is ever easy when it comes to California water – but the layers of federal, state and local agencies responsible for its management are especially complex.

The State Water Resources Control Board oversees water rights, while the Department of Water Resources focuses on delivery and infrastructure development. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Reclamation pitch in on water quality and supply planning. And nearly all of the day-to-day actions, from direct water supply to wastewater treatment, take place at the local level.

As a result, local entities are actually responsible for more than 80 percent of the water spending in California. Should they receive extra assistance as the state grapples with the drought, begins implementing a $7.5 billion water passed by voters in November, and spends the last of a 2006 flood protection bond in next year’s budget?

The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee will examine Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach to water funding and local funding needs during a 10 a.m. hearing in Room 4203 of the Capitol. State water board Chair Felicia Marcus, Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, Department of Water Resources Director Mark W. Cowin and Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham are scheduled to testify.

VIDEO: Brown and the Legislature have a big job ahead of them as they decide how to spend the water bond, Dan Walters says.

GETTING COVERED: More than 75,000 undocumented immigrants have received driver’s licenses since AB 60 went into effect the beginning of this year, and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones wants to ensure they get insured. He will join Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, to promote the state’s Low Cost Auto Insurance program, which helps low-income Californians with their coverage regardless of immigration status, 9:30 a.m. at the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Broadway.

KIDS IN POWER: High schoolers will descend on Sacramento this week for the California YMCA Youth & Government’s model legislature and courts program, during which they will debate on the Senate and Assembly floors and preside over cases from the Sacramento Superior Court chambers. The event kicks off at 12:30 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center with remarks from Brown and Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Last year, California expanded its film and television tax credit program to $330 million from $100 million per year in an effort to stem the tide of productions leaving the state. The California Film Commission will vote on draft regulations for the new program, which will include big-budget feature films and switch from a lottery system to a jobs-based selection of projects, during its meeting at 1:30 p.m. in Los Angeles.

NEW JOBS: The California Forestry Association has hired Kirstin Kolpitcke as vice president of legislative affairs. She will begin lobbying for Calforests, which represents forest owners and product managers, on March 9.

Kathryn Lybarger, president of the University of California employees union AFSCME Local 3299, has been elected president of the California Labor Federation. She succeeds Connie Leyva, who was elected to the state Senate in November.

READ MORE: Amid California’s drought, water chief preaches conservation – and balance

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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