Rivers measures approved by Senate would aid local agencies, Christmas tree farmers

The Senate today approved the first bill introduced by Sen. Ann Rivers since she became 18th Legislative District senator. It would give government agencies some breathing room when it comes to complying with a state law requiring them to move their fleets to biofuels and electricity by 2018.Sen. Ann Rivers, R-18

“While I understand the intent of that law from six years ago, this is still a huge unfunded mandate on cities, counties, port districts, school districts, transit districts and more – every local government that operates vehicles, vessels or construction equipment,” said Rivers, R-La Center. “My goal is to make it easier for cities to meet the standards that were set out as the technology becomes available. That way it doesn’t become such an expensive proposition for the taxpayers and ratepayers who ultimately pick up the tab.”

Under Rivers’ measure, Senate Bill 5099, local government agencies would not be required to replace such vehicles and other equipment before the end of their useful lives; engine retrofits would also be exempt from the requirement. Also, local-government entities would have the ability to exempt police, fire and other vehicles used for emergency response from the fuel-switch requirement.

“Our Majority Coalition Caucus may be focused on jobs, education and a sustainable budget, but we’re also about making government work better. That’s the idea here,” said Rivers, who is part of the coalition’s leadership team.

The second Rivers bill adopted today, Senate Bill 5377, would extend to 2020 the Christmas tree licensing program operated by the state Department of Agriculture, which otherwise would expire in 2014. That program, established in 2007 and funded by fees from Christmas tree growers, is important because it helps the industry keep tabs on disease and destructive insects, she told her Senate colleagues prior to voting.

Both measures received overwhelming support and have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.