You might not know it with all the attention focused on the state budget, but your elected officials in the state Legislature are at work on a raft of bills large and small that would do everything from give wildfire tax breaks to protect spiny lobsters.
Here’s a quick rundown from Sacramento of what your San Diego-area elected officials are up to right now:
- Assemblyman Joel Andersen has a bill that would give homeowners affected by the 2003 wildfires in San Diego County more time to replace their fire-destroyed property. Currently, people with homes substantially damaged by natural disasters have five years to find and buy a replacement home to keep paying the same property tax. Today, houses of similar value come with much higher property taxes.
The bill would extend the timeframe to seven years. Finding a house or rebuilding is an intricate process that takes too much time, according to the assemblyman, and the bill would give those affected extra help. Less than 10 taxpayers a year might benefit from the bill, according to legislative analysts, so the question comes up: Should the state extend a tax benefit to such a small group of San Diego taxpayers?
- Assemblyman Marty Block wants a new state university in the San Diego area. He has authored a bill that would require the chancellor of the California State University to conduct a study on the feasibility of a new campus in Chula Vista.
There are tens of thousands of students in the area turned away from impacted schools like San Diego State that could benefit from a new campus, according to the author’s office. But, with the state cutting higher education by about 10 percent, it seems like a difficult time to propose a new state university.
- Five bills dealing with the future of the Sacramento Delta, a major San Diego water source, will be getting close attention in the Legislature.
The bills were stopped on the house floors during budget deliberations and redirected to a conference committee. There, they will be addressed together in depth. The bills included proposals for lowering water use in the state, establishing a wildlife conservancy in the delta area, and a comprehensive plan for the delta’s future — but most of that has been crossed out. The language that remains solely declares legislative intent to look into the delta’s fate. The details of the committee — its size, when it will meet and who will be on it — have not been set.
The new laws would have impact on water all over the state: limits on its use, its price, and, especially in Southern California, the way we get it. Proposals for a canal to get water from the delta to Southern California have been floating around for years on the lips of water retailers, cities and counties, and, recently, the governor. He has stated he would support building the canal. His Delta Vision Strategic Plan, completed last year, contains suggestions for a “dual-conveyance system” for carrying water down the Sacramento River and down a canal. The canal will likely be discussed in the committee.