Bakersfield · Merced

Crime crackdowns, energy production top Valley counties’ 2022 Sacramento, DC wishlists

With county governments across the Central Valley gearing up for a busy 2022, two counties have published their goals for the year, giving residents a look at what they should expect when it comes to swaying state and Federal lawmakers

Kern County and Merced County Board of Supervisors posted their 2022 legislative agendas, showing what’s on tap for their efforts stateside and in Washington D.C. 

Here’s the outlook for state and federal legislation impacting Kern County and Merced County in 2022: 

Kern County

As is custom for Kern County, energy advocacy will be one of the top priorities in Sacramento over the next year, even as Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration are continually pushing the shift away from oil. 

Kern County’s energy goals include opposing legislation that seeks to phase out fossil fuels and legislation that imposes taxes on oil production and “promulgates redundant and unnecessary regulation of the oil and gas well permitting processes.”

Further along the permitting front, Kern County will oppose any state efforts to supplant local permitting and siting of renewable energy facilities.

Kern County will also support handing the authority to assess alternative energy facilities back to the counties. 

Two of the other major points of interest for Kern County in Sacramento are water and transportation. 

The Board of Supervisors support the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022 for the November ballot, which would see two percent of the state’s general fund set aside for water infrastructure projects. 

Kern County also seeks to oppose legislation that shifts taxation from fuel sales. 

California’s much-maligned High-Speed Rail is also a target from the supervisors. They seek the “immediate abandonment” of the project and have the remaining state funds reappropriated to local projects and programs that will provide an immediate benefit to county residents. 

Over on the federal side, Kern County’s legislative agenda rings similar to its stateside goals. 

Kern County will support regulatory streamlining and exemptions to speed up the development of renewable energy generation that will help increase U.S. energy independence and support all forms of energy production. 

The county will also advocate for federal legislation that encourages the exploration and use of energy resources to “help reduce the prices of energy and increase local economic output.” 

On the water front, Kern County will support legislation that will provide funding for renewal, enhancement and maintenance of community potable water systems. 

Kern County will also support “the implementation of comprehensive and permanent immigration reform,” which includes the enhancement of the H-2A program to fulfill the employment needs of local agriculture. 

Merced County

As part of its efforts at the state level, Merced County is hoping for modifications to AB 109 – the 2011 bill which realigned responsibilities for certain low-level offenders, adult parolees and juvenile offenders from the state to the counties.

Merced County needs sufficient funding to abide by AB 109 and is also seeking a change to how offenders are sentenced under the bill. 

Many local offenders have received longer sentences in county jails than originally anticipated, leading the county to advocate for a cap to the number of years an offender can be sentenced to jail and to make longer-term offenders eligible for state prison. 

Another state proposal from Merced County is the request for funding for mandated election-related responsibilities. 

Those responsibilities include the move toward vote centers, mailing ballots and increased outreach by the county registrar of voters office. 

“Local election equipment is quickly becoming aged and obsolete, posing challenges for county elections departments,” the legislative agenda reads. “In order to update essential electronics, the state needs to approve and fund replacement equipment. Particularly, ballot-on-demand technology, vote-by-mail processing equipment, and accessibility equipment are necessities in elections offices.” 

On the federal side, Merced County is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the Black Rascal and Bear Creek Flood Control Project. 

Merced County will also advocate for the strengthening of trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries, including the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

“Of particular importance is creating a more level playing field for American manufacturing as well as aiding farmers, ranchers and agribusiness by modernizing and strengthening food and agriculture trade in North America,” the legislative agenda reads. 

Additionally, the county also seeks a long-term surface transportation authorization bill and a reliable long-term funding stream to replace the gas tax.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.