SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – As the wind picks up and fire truck sirens blare outside the state capitol, some state lawmakers are hoping this is a wake-up call to the legislature.
“I can tell you my constituents are scared,” said Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher.
“I think people statewide are wanting to see us really address this issue with some vigor and some priority.”
Republican Assemblyman Kames Gallagher represents Paradise, the town decimated by the state’s deadliest and destructive wildfire in 2018.
He authored a proposal this year to double the amount of money the state earmarks for wildfire prevention projects and forest management from 200 million to 400 million over the next five years.
The proposal would also remove regulatory barriers and eliminate rules under California Environmental Quality Act– also known as CEQA.
“If we want to get on top of the tinder box of fuel that we have in our forest and wildlands right now, you have to do two things. 1) We need more money going into these projects and 2) We need to remove the red tape like CEQA that stops these projects from moving forward.”
But Gallagher’s bill is stalling in its first hurdle in the democrat-led natural resources committee, which he notes prioritized proposals to ban gas powered leaf blowers and a study on wind energy.
“What I was told officially was that they did not have time to hear my bill. I think I should at least get a hearing, my constituents are entitled to at least a hearing.”
Gallagher is hoping his proposal can be addressed in the budget process.
Governor Newsom and legislative leaders have suggested broadly their revised budgets would include wildfire prevention efforts.
“The whole state is hurt by these catastrophic wildfires, and it should be bipartisan in trying to do something about it.”
We have reached out to the Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee Luz Rivas for comment — A spokesperson noted the shorter schedule set aside several bills this year, he went on to say in part that Gallagher’s proposal would reduce public and legislative oversight and wouldn’t take effect for at least a year.