Competing bills seek to tweak water bond

Bee Staff ReportsFebruary 26, 2014 

Drought worries are prompting state lawmakers from this area to pitch bills competing with the California water bond up for a statewide vote in November.

Sen. Cathleen Galgiani on Tuesday joined a parade of legislators, including Sen. Anthony Cannella and Assemblyman Adam Gray, who are advocating differing responses to a third dry winter and dwindling water sources.

In the wake of recent Valley visits by President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown, Sacramento has a crowded field of seven versions to consider, each with varying price tags and each serving different interests.

Legislators could leave alone the $11.2 billion water bond already heading to the November ballot, which is the priciest version, or they could pick another and try to sway voters in coming months.

“I think we will have to come together on one proposal,” said Assemblyman Henry Perea. “This can’t drag on too long. If we can’t agree on one bill, we should move forward with the $11.2 billion bond that’s already on the ballot.”

Cannella, R-Ceres, and Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, in late January unveiled Senate Bill 927 as a less costly option at $9.2 billion while still addressing water storage, reviving the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and safe drinking water. Cannella on Friday also signed onto Assembly Bill 2686, which has a similar cost and goals, joining Democrats Gray of Merced, Perea of Fresno and Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield in a bipartisan effort.

Galgiani, a Stockton Democrat, came out this week with SB 1370, the least costly of the competing bills at $5.1 billion with the narrowest focus: dams, with one each in Fresno and Madera counties, Colusa and Glenn counties, and Contra Costa County.

She said her bill addresses “California’s lack of preparedness for this drought and the need for financial prudence” because it would be cheaper than the water bond scheduled for a November vote.

The others:

• AB 1445, Dan Logue, R-Marysville – $5.8 billion

• AB 1331, Anthony Rendon, D-Los Angeles – $6.5 billion

• SB 848, Lois Wolk, D-Davis – $6.8 billion

The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.

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