Republican Assemblymembers Formally Request Special Session on California's Water Crisis

Cite "enduring emergency" and "failed state actions" as reasons for Governor, Legislature to act.

Aug 25, 2015, 17:20 ET from Assemblymember Bill Brough

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Republican Assemblymembers Bill Brough (R-Dana Point), James Gallagher (R- Nicolaus), Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) and Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) today delivered a formal request to Governor Brown calling for the immediate establishment of a special legislative session to address California's continuing water crisis as well as ongoing state actions that have failed to deliver as promised.

"Because of this crisis, Californians are hurting, measures taken thus far have failed and the credibility of state government is on the line," said Brough. "While California is in a supposed state of emergency, those in charge appear to be in a state of sluggishness."

The correspondence to Brown cited several reasons supporting the calling of a special session, specifically widespread reports that as much as half of the $687 million set aside to help drought-stricken communities remains unspent in state accounts – and will remain there until 2016. The letter also cited a similarly slow pace distributing funds raised as a result of last year's Proposition 1 ballot measure.

"The state bureaucracy is never nimble, but in this case, its performance has been unforgivably slow," said Mathis. "We're just not seeing anything like the commitment necessary to help Californians in need. Only a special session can spur the kind of action that will make an impact as soon as possible."

Mayor of Visalia Steve Nelsen said, "Isn't it time for our State Legislature to take this drought crises more seriously? I am extremely happy and appreciate that Assemblyman Devon Mathis is taking a proactive charge for action now, not next year! As a Central Valley Mayor, I see firsthand how this water shortage is getting worse with each passing day. Worse for families, businesses, our communities. I agree transportation is a critical issue for our state that must be addressed, but when people don't have water to cook with, bathe and even drink isn't it time for action? This can't be ignored!"

The Assemblymembers also pointed to the most recent forecasts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric indicating an event that would surpass the record-strong El Niño of 1997-1998. If accurate, these heavy rains could quickly take the state from drought to flood. A special session is essential, they said, to put projects on line quickly to store the resulting water and assist with expedited flood control.

Also referenced were needed reforms – as well as an accelerated process – to demonstrate the state is willing to explore the widest possible range of reform ideas and seriousness to get something done.

"Tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity are at stake. If this drought has taught us anything, it is there is simply no time left to waste," said Gallagher.

Even though the current legislative session is set to end in September, the Assemblymembers insisted that the state's worsening water challenges should convince the Governor and Democratic majority to remain in Sacramento until real progress has been made.

"This session has seen a lot of activity, but far less action," said Brough. "There's a lot of hard work left to be done, and it will send a clear message to the millions of Californians who are suffering if Sacramento's leaders go home without concrete accomplishments that address our water crisis."


SOURCE Assemblymember Bill Brough