SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) introduced new legislation to allow adjacent counties to establish joint multidisciplinary personnel teams (MDTs) to combat homelessness.
“We must allow and encourage counties to work more effectively to address homelessness by permitting information sharing on their homeless populations. Homelessness does not occur in a one-county vacuum, and counties must be able to work together to provide essential services,” said Assemblyman Gallagher.
MDTs are a proven tool that allow teams from a variety of disciplines to coordinate their efforts. MDTs have been used for the past thirty years to address child abuse, allowing county service providers to work together and share case information. More recently, MDTs have been used to address homelessness. However, these MDTs are limited in that they can only coordinate efforts within a single county.
“Yuba and Sutter Counties have made a concentrated effort to work together to address homeless issues as our homeless population often moves freely between our counties. AB 2174 will help further these efforts by allowing us to share information on this population,” said Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf. “AB 2174 would allow us to create a bi-county homeless engagement team that would help prevent any delays in connecting homeless individuals to housing and supportive services,” added Sutter County Administrator Steve Smith.
Homeless service providers are located in both Yuba and Sutter counties. Additionally, the counties already have a bi-county health department and a bi-county homeless consortium. AB 2174 would allow contiguous counties, like Yuba and Sutter, to coordinate amongst their agencies and service providers. This will create cost savings and improve government efficiency by preventing duplicative efforts through better coordination, while enhancing the continuity of care for homeless individuals and families.
SACRAMENTO - Today, Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) introduced Assembly Bill 1983 that would safeguard victims of sexual violence from reliving their trauma in Sexual Violent Predator Act (SVPA) probable cause hearings.
“Victims of sexual violence suffer every day from the impacts of their assault. We must protect the victims of these heinous crimes from reliving their traumatic experience,” Gallagher said.
The SVPA was designed to accomplish the dual goals of protecting the public from sexual offenders likely to reoffend and providing mental health services to those offenders. Within the SVPA, a probable cause hearing must occur to see if the person meets the criteria for these services.
Prior to a recent court case, a mental health expert could testify in SVPA probable cause hearings. Now, the court-ruling no longer allows expert testimony and therefore coerces victims and witnesses to testify in both the jury trial and SVP probable cause hearings.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 81% of female victims and 35% of male victims report significant impacts on their mental health including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from sexual violence. Assembly Bill 1983 would insulate victims and witnesses from having to relive their trauma twice in court by allowing a mental health expert to testify at the initial probable cause hearing.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Assemblyman James Gallagher introduced new legislation on Monday that will help expedite the construction of the Paradise Irrigation District intertie project.
PID said after the Camp Fire, a rough estimate of customers lost was around 9,000, nearly its entire customer base. The District is searching for new revenue streams in order to sustain itself into the future and provide water to the Town of Paradise.
This new project would allow PID to temporarily sell surface water that is otherwise stranded in two reservoirs located near a water treatment facility.
“Paradise cannot re-build and thrive without a functioning water district,” said Gallagher. “At first glance, this intertie pipeline looks like a big win-win for the Town of Paradise and the county as a whole. Once the studies are complete and if this project is determined to be feasible, AB 1957 will provide a critical tool that will speed up construction timelines and provide greater resiliency to Butte County’s groundwater basins.”
AB-1957 would allow PID to utilize alternative delivery methods like design-build for the construction of the intertie project. This would provide more flexibility in design and construction for the project to be done in a timely manner.
“North State residents need more reliable water,” Senator Nielsen said. “This proposal will ensure the sustainability of a water source for our community and the continued financial health of PID as the Town of Paradise rebuilds.”
In 2019, lawmakers in the North State secured $14 million in the state budget to keep PID operational for two years. The governor’s Administration asked the district to look into long term solutions like the proposed project in order to avoid future backfill requests.
“The benefits of the intertie project are more robust than some think,” Butte County Supervisor, Doug Teeter said. “For example, delivering water down the Skyway, or a closed system pumping back and forth, would provide for other opportunities. Such as the installation of fire hydrants along with the town's main evacuation route and an opportunity for power generation bringing benefit to the County’s new Community Choice Aggregation power purchase program. Simply put, this can be much more than a temporary financial solution for PID.”
BUTTE COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The California Legislature urged FEMA officials to reconsider its pursuit of reimbursement from PG&E's $13.5 billion fire victim fund. Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), who represent Camp Fire survivors, pushed for the signing of the letter to FEMA's Acting Administrator:
"We write to express our concern regarding efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pursue claims against the settlement fund for wildfire victims created by PG&E as a part of their ongoing bankruptcy case. The purpose of this fund is to provide restitution to the thousands of wildfire victims trying to rebuild their lives after devastating disasters, and should not be an avenue for FEMA to recover its costs.
"This claim by FEMA in the federal bankruptcy court could affect the ability of the victims of the 2015, 2017 and 2018 California wildfires to rebuild their lives by significantly reducing restitution they would otherwise be able to receive. Moreover, we are told by victims that FEMA assured them they would not face additional costs when accepting federal assistance for debris removal.
"FEMA seeking reimbursement from the $13.5 billion settlement fund reserved primarily for fire victims not only recants on this promise, but undermines FEMA's reputation as a reliable partner. This action would also weaken the Agency's ability to respond to future natural disasters as FEMA's reputation will be diminished, especially among victims. We therefore ask that you reconsider your decision to pursue a claim against the victim's fund in federal bankruptcy court and request further information regarding FEMA's decision to pursue a claim. We look forward to hearing from you."
To further protect their constituents, state lawmakers - Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) - who represent the Town of Paradise and Camp Fire survivors, announced their intent to introduce legislation that will help prevent future wildfires and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) by PG&E. The lawmakers are authoring legislation to direct additional funding into utility infrastructure upgrades and forest fuel reduction projects – two of the leading factors in catastrophic wildfires and cited by PG&E in declaring power shutoff events.
PG&E is currently spending roughly $2.4 billion annually to uphold a legislative mandate to buy renewable power. At the same time, the company spent only $1.5 billion to update its century old infrastructure in 2017. A century-old transmission tower was cited as the ignition source of the Camp Fire, and a utility tower reportedly may also be the source of the Kincade Fire currently burning in Sonoma.
The legislation by Nielsen and Gallagher will temporarily pause the state’s renewable power mandates until infrastructure and vegetation management conditions are improved. The legislation will require that savings from this temporary relief may only be used by Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) to harden the grid and reduce forest fuels. Also during this time, executive compensation at IOUs would be frozen and any proposed bonuses shall be put on hold.
“PG&E needs to get back to the basics of providing safe and reliable power,” said Gallagher. “There is no doubt that PG&E’s mismanagement is the primary culprit in these devastating fires and PSPS events. But policies coming out of the State Capitol that distract from these primary objectives only make matters worse.”
Senator Nielsen called the legislation a common-sense approach to help end power shutoff events and reduce fire risk. “We are not waiting ten years. No more power shutoffs. It needs to happen now,” said Nielsen. “Millions without electricity is what a third world country looks like, not a state that is the 5th largest economy in the world.”
California IOUs have already met their goals of reaching 33% renewable solar and wind energy and PG&E is already producing 85% of its power from renewable and carbon-free sources. The lawmakers noted that every dollar spent on the additional cost of renewable energy is one dollar that is not available to be spent on vegetation management, line insulation, undergrounding, and other grid-hardening measures.
“Dollars spent on forestry management have been found to do more to reduce carbon than other measures. Science shows that redirecting funding to forestry management gets us a better bang for our buck in carbon reduction,” added Gallagher.
The lawmakers will also be introducing a joint Resolution that will urge the federal bankruptcy court to rescind PG&E’s current high-cost renewable energy contracts. Reports show that some of PG&E’s pre-2012 solar contracts now cost the company an added $2.2 billion per year due to outdated above-market prices. These contracts could be voided in the bankruptcy to allow PG&E to buy the same renewable power at a lower price. Savings from renegotiating these bloated contracts could be used to invest in projects that reduce fire danger and future blackout events.
“Bankruptcy is typically a place to get out of bad contracts,” said Senator Nielsen. “Victims and ratepayers must be the priority. Our legislation is another opportunity to get back to the basics of providing safe and reliable power.”
The North State lawmakers noted that California is moving backward on its carbon reduction due to recent wildfires. Last year’s fires generated 45 million metric tons of carbon - more than nine times California’s combined reductions achieved in 2016 and 2017.
“California must get smarter about its climate goals. Century-old infrastructure, tinderbox forests and PSPS events are unacceptable. Renewable energy mandates that take away from addressing these issues while fires continue to burn are intolerable. With our plan, we can do better on carbon reduction and combating catastrophic fire,” Gallagher concluded.
Nielsen and Gallagher will formally introduce the legislation when the Legislature reconvenes in January.