Sen. Jim Nielsen complained vehemently about the $1 billion spending plan that lawmakers approved this week, lamenting that only a small portion of the money will help people suffering from the drought.
“This passage of a $1 billion spending plan provides no oversight or accountability to ensure that the moneys would be spent as they were intended," Nielsen said after the two bills passed the Senate late Wednesday.
“These are landmark bills that the public had less than 48 hours to review -- leaving little opportunity for citizen participation and lawmakers to analyze and offer input.
“The drought is being exploited to give sweeping and punitive powers to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to impose fines of up to $8,000 per day, per violation without a sunset date. This will affect our water rights.
“Today’s action also creates a new government entity – the Office of Sustainable Water Solution – without identifying the size, scope or funding source. It appears the intent is to use Proposition 1 moneys. Where is the oversight to ensure that the moneys are used appropriately?”
As we reported (via the AP), the measure authorizing fines for water diversion passed the Senate on a 24-12 party-line vote, with Republicans opposed. The bill approving spending passed the Senate 35-1. Nielsen abstained on AB 91 and voted against AB 92.