Controversial trash bill one vote from Brown's desk
Pending one more vote in the Assembly, a bill closely watched — and opposed — by Yuba County officials will be on its way to the governor.
Assembly Bill 845, by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, would bar a city or county from passing any ordinance affecting trash from being imported into the city or county, if the ordinance is based on from where the trash came.
Though bill proponents said it was designed to get around voter-approved initiatives on landfills in Solano County, Yuba County officials have said the affect is greater.
Yuba County is reviewing elements of a plan, already approved in San Francisco, in which trash from the Bay Area city would be shipped by train to the Ostrom Road landfill near Wheatland, beginning in 2015.
Though the landfill has capacity for San Francisco trash, county officials have said they fear the bill's passage will affect how much say they will have over the conditions for allowing the project to proceed.
"It just doesn't seem morally fair," said Yuba County Supervisor Roger Abe, explaining while cities like San Francisco haven't bothered to go through the process to establish a landfill, the bill punishes places like Yuba County that have.
Rick Paskowitz, a watchdog on Ostrom Road operations, said the bill clearly harms local control in favor of big-city influence.
"For beside the legacy of sneakiness will be the legacy of 'pre-emption of local authority,' Paskowitz said in an email sent Thursday, after the state Senate approved the bill on a 22-14 vote. Yuba-Sutter area state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, voted against the bill and was the only Republican to do so.
"Ma will be known as taking away local control, taking away the power of the people," Paskowitz said.
In addition to opposing the bill, Paskowitz and others also objected to how it moved forward, after another bill with the same language, AB 1178, was stalled in a state Senate committee earlier this year.
Using a process known as "gut-and-amend," Ma stripped out language from a bill already on the state Senate floor — AB 845 — and replaced with the language from AB 1178.
Because the bill's language was vetted by the committee, it was fair to bring the bill to the full chamber for a vote, according to bill proponents.
After Thursday's vote, Ma's office hailed the advancement, saying in a press release the vote recognized garbage was a statewide issue.
"Thirty-nine California counties ship their waste to other jurisdictions or will need to export waste in the future. Not every city and county can have its own landfill and local jurisdictions should not put initiatives on the ballot that discriminate against out-of-area garbage," she said in the release.
Because of the change in number, the bill will have to be approved again in the Assembly before it goes to the governor, a vote likely to happen next week. Gov. Brown's office has not indicated a position on the bill.
Abe said he wouldn't guess as to how the governor will vote, though he and others will certainly raise the county's concerns with his office.
"It's just not real well-defined," Abe said of AB 845. "It's just a question of how you want to interpret it, or how the courts will interpret it."
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.