DU September Legislative Update for the West

by  Mark Smith, Western Region Director of Public Policy

The California legislature adjourned last month, which means that none of our nine states are currently in session, so it’s all quiet on the Western Front.  Well, not technically since the regulatory community never sleeps. But before adjourning, the CA legislature accomplished three pretty big items, and one smaller one:


  • The Legislature passed significant groundwater monitoring and sustainability legislation, arguably the most sweeping water law changes since the Porter Cologne Act in the 60’s.  Rather than explain it to you myself, this is a great overview by Downey Brand (who does a lot of work with our valley agricultural partners).  Pay close attention to the last bullet…the connections between groundwater and surface water and how this plays out in the regulated community is going to merit paying attention too.  http://www.downeybrand.com/Resources/Legal-Alerts/86002/The-New-Groundwater-Legislation-Opportunities-and-Challenges


  • The Legislature approved an updated water bond, which will replace the current bond on the November ballot, swapping a larger $11.1B bond for a more svelte and toothsome $7.5B one…with all the important parts are there – $2.7B for storage, $475M pot for CVPIA operations and Klamath restoration, and billions for in Delta and the rest of the state habitat conservation programs.  This bond, now known as Proposition 1 on the November ballot, still needs to be approved by the voters, but if it passes will be a solid victory for WRO priorities and work opportunities in CA and SONEC for quite some time.


  • The Legislature failed to pass SB 53 (DeLeon), a measure that would have required background checks for ammunition purchases, prohibited mail order/internet sales for ammunition, and required vendors to submit transaction records to the CA Dept of Justice for record keeping.  DU engaged hard in opposition to this measure, coordinating two grassroots alerts among our 31,000 CA members, and encouraging them to reach out to their legislators opposing the bill.  We partnered with other groups, such as CWA and Fish and Game Commission to defeat this bill on the floor of the Assembly in the last days of session.  A solid victory for DU and our members, and something that got a lot of attention from the members throughout CA.


  • The California Legislature approved a bill increasing the youth hunting age to 18 years old.  Sponsored by CWA, the measure is designed to keep kids hunting longer, at cheaper rates, to help build momentum towards generating lifelong hunters.  DU has asked the Governor for his signature on the measure, he has until Oct 31st to sign or veto all the legislation pending on his desk.


  • CDFW has launched a CDFW drought webpage. It’s a listing of that states actions to protect and preserve the states fish and wildlife resources.  In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s dry outside.


  • DU hosted a Sportsman’s Caucus reception downtown at the Sutter Club in Sacramento with CWA, Mule Deer, SCI, TU, and others.  This annual event allows for members of the CA Legislature to meet and greet with representatives of the sportsmen’s community–a good opportunity to demonstrate the value of fishing and hunting to legislators.


  • Volunteers in WA state are moving full steam ahead with plans to introduce a “wetlands conservation” license plate and are currently collecting 3,500 intent signatures to help demonstrate to lawmakers that this is a valid idea.