[env-trinity] Sac Bee 10 14 09
bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Oct 14 10:29:58 PDT 2009
California Legislature plans hearings on water bills
By Matt Weiser
Legislative leaders say they intend to hold hearings on controversial water
bills next week, a move that should appease complaints that the process has
been too secret.
A special legislative session on the subject is technically under way now,
after being called Sunday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Jim Evans, spokesman for Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, said legislative
staff is drafting bill language based on discussions held so far.
"We plan on public hearings next week and hopefully a vote on the floor of
each respective house next week as well," Evans said.
Management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta remains a major focus.
Lawmakers aim to create a streamlined government structure to manage the
estuary, build major new plumbing to improve water deliveries and restore
thousands of acres of habitat.
The estuary is a transit point for water diversions to Southern California
and a nursery for several of the state's most important and imperiled fish
Major differences continue to block a bipartisan package:
? Democrats want monitoring and regulation of groundwater resources.
California is unique in that it does not require this. Republicans are wary
of imposing this on farmers suffering from drought.
? Republicans want billions of dollars included in a proposed bond measure
to build dams, saying only new surface storage can resolve shortages.
Democrats say aggressive conservation and groundwater storage can do the
? Both sides want the price of a bond measure whittled down. At one point it
stood at $12 billion.
? Northern California water agencies want assurances they won't have to give
up water for a controversial canal proposed to divert Sacramento River water
across the Delta.
? The five Delta counties are concerned about how the canal will be
approved, how thousands of acres of proposed restoration lands will be
managed, and whether they'll have an adequate role in both.
Even majority-party leaders have expressed concern that the bills have so
far been negotiated in secret meetings among the top two lawmakers from each
house and the governor ? the so-called "Big 5." No specific bill language
has been made public since the regular legislative session ended.
In a move toward greater openness, party leaders met with their respective
caucuses Tuesday to brief them.
"It certainly has the feel of a very, very bizarre negotiating dynamic to
me, and it makes me uncomfortable," said Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael,
chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. "This is a 50-
or 100-year solution, so certainly taking a few weeks to make sure that
(legislative) members are informed, to make sure the right questions are
asked, is warranted."#
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land
415 519 4810 cell
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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