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Siskiyou County Supervisor Column -Suction Dredge Mining, State and Local Government Budgets

Pioneer Press May 8, 2008

SB 670: Recently I testified in front of the State Senate committee in opposition to a bill by coastal Senator Wiggins to halt small scale suction dredge mining while the Department of Fish and Game proceeds with a court-ordered environmental impact report to justify any new regulations. My testimony was directed at the economic impact the loss of miners along the Klamath would have on the stores in those small communities. I also pointed out that in the many field studies that had been done, suction dredge mining was found to have only a very temporary and very localized impact on sediment. (Dredge mining is currently not permitted at times or places where there is spawning or egg emergence occurring.) Unfortunately, the Senate committee passed the bill on a partisan vote and sent it on to the Appropriations Committee.
I also voiced opposition to several water bills involving groundwater regulation and taking of water use rights for fish. They all passed through committee as well. The process allows two minutes for two parties each to speak in favor or against a bill. All other parties are allowed only to name the group they represent and position for or against. I was not considered a major party. [So much for a Capra movie moment.]
State and Local Government Budgets: Looks like the fiscal year State 2009-2010 budget will start out with legislators facing up to a $14 billion deficit. Part of this is due to the fact that tax revenues did not come in as hoped. [Apparently they didn’t get the Reagan memo about not regulating and taxing businesses out of existence.]   
In addition, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office has determined that the State will have to borrow from $10-23 billion before July 1 to meet everyday cash flow needs for this fiscal year. This has the real potential to result in more delayed payments to the Counties for services already rendered on State programs, (such as social services and mental health.) Delays deplete County reserves and may require the County to borrow operating money as well. Payment delays have already devastated the Shasta Resource Conservation District (RCD) where they, and local contractors, have been left holding the bag on a large dam removal project. A “prompt payment’ bill for the RCDs is winding through the legislature, but will not help if the State does not have the money. 
In a demonstration of the “spending power,” the federal government has indicated that it will hold back $6.1 billion in stimulus funds to California if the legislature does not rescind a cut they made in State contributions toward the wages of In Home Support Services (IHSS) workers. (These are workers who provide domestic and non-medical services to the elderly and disabled in their homes.) 
Both the federal and the State law act directly upon individuals. Federal law does not act upon the States, and is specifically precluded from doing so under the doctrine of “dual sovereignty.” Provisions of various federal laws may not be applied in such a manner so as to: (1) Coerce or force any State into an agreement to implement a federal program or law; (2)  Devise any State program or provisions thereof in compliance with a federal law or subject to the approval of a federal agency; or (3)  Command State law enforcement, or other State officers to enforce a federal law or federal agency directives. Where there is a real conflict between legitimate federal and State law, federal law pre-empts the State law.

The State may not voluntarily agree to an enlargement of federal jurisdiction into its jurisdictional sphere when such is not authorized by a legitimate enumerated federal power. [New York v. United States, 120 L. Ed. 2d 120 (1992.)] However, under what has been termed "cooperative federalism," it may be allowed to enact a State law to minimum federal standards in lieu of legitimate federal regulation that would otherwise preempt State law. The State may also accept a federal grant conditional upon compliance with provisions designed to advance a federal interest or program. [South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987); New York v. United States 505 US 144 (1992).] This is how the federal Stimulus program under current State budgetary challenges around the nation can enlarge federal control.

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