State Senate could consider bill on for-hire operators

Senate Bill 883 proposes to re-define for-hire vessel operator.

SACRAMENTO—State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, introduced legislation in January that could re-define a for-hire vessel operator. The bill – Senate Bill 883 (SB 883) – was introduced on Jan. 23 and was on its way to committee review prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SB 883 specifically proposed to change the requirements of what qualifies as a for-hire vessel operator.

Existing law requires any for-hire vessel operator to have valid license if there are at least three passengers for hire. Monning proposed to reduce the number of for hire passengers to one.

“’For-hire vessel’ includes … a vessel propelled by machinery carrying … one or more passengers for hire,” language of the bill said.

Sea planes on water and any watercraft “specifically designed to operate on a permanently fixed course … by means of a mechanical device attached to the watercraft itself” are not covered under Monning’s proposal.

SB 883 was slated to be considered by the State Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water. A hearing was set for March 24, but it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

No word yet on when the bill would be re-considered, if at all. A legislative analysis of the bill has not yet been conducted.

AB 2071

Another bill with a postponed committee hearing (due to the Covid-19 pandemic) is Assembly Bill 2071 (AB 2071); the bill was introduced by Assembly member Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance. The bill addresses a state policy allowing a phase out of once-through cooling for powerplants.

Existing state law permits the State Water Resources Control Board (and the nine regional water quality control boards) to regulate water quality in California. The boards are granted this authority under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and the federal Clean Water Act, according to the language of AB 2071.

“The state board is required to adopt specified state policies with respect to water quality as it relates to the coastal marine environment, including a policy requiring new or expanded coastal powerplants and other industrial installations using seawater for cooling, heating, or industrial processing to use the best available site, design, technology, and mitigation measures feasible to minimize the intake and mortality of all forms of marine life,” language of AB 2071 stated. “Pursuant to that policy, the state board has adopted a policy to phase out once-through cooling for powerplants.

“This bill would prohibit the state board, on or after January 1, 2021, from granting to an operator of a powerplant additional time for complying with the once-through cooling policy adopted by the state board if specified conditions are met,” Muratsuchi’s proposal continued.

The owner of a powerplant won’t be granted any extensions to comply with the once-through cooling policy if two criteria are met:

  • the powerplant is located on existing coastal wetlands within the coastal zone, and
  • a local agency, nonprofit organization or nongovernmental land conservation organization was awarded a grant to acquire at least a portion of the powerplant site to redevelop it for parklands or restore wetlands.

Committee consideration of AB 2071 was postponed in mid-March; legislators have not yet announced when the bill would be back on the legislative floor. A legislative analysis of the bill has not yet been conducted.


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