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ISSUE

Rural

California draws strength from our cultural and geographical diversity.  Water, timber, food, fiber, and heritage, are among the many invaluable resources coming from rural spaces that are essential to supporting robust agriculture, commercial enterprises, and industry statewide, making California the fifth largest economy in the world.  Rural areas are at the heart of the social, economic, and environmental health and well-being of all Californians.

In recognition of the unique opportunities and challenges in developing policies and programs that work in rural communities, California Democrats will:

  • Encourage elected officials to consider the effect on rural California when proposing new policies or programs by evaluating whether the outcome is fair and feasible in rural communities;
  • Support legislation that invests in the natural resources, vibrant culture, historical significance, and the economy of rural communities;
  • Improve messaging in rural regions that will heighten awareness of the work, investment, and progress elected Democrats are making in rural communities and counteract disinformation promulgated by Republicans;
  • Support policies that consider limited financial capacity in rural areas when implementing state requirements, such as those for recycling, composting, hazardous waste, and storm water control, and adjust compliance timelines and targets as needed, and provide funding to support such programs where the local population cannot;
  • Support equitable distribution of state resources, programs, and tax dollars based on need, not solely population, ensuring equitable investment in rural healthcare, community development, and infrastructure, such as water, sewer, power, internet, and transportation;
  • Support policies that balance the lawful and responsible ownership of firearms for hunting, sport, and personal protection with the growing need for gun safety laws;
  • Sustain a lasting and respectful relationship with Tribal Nations and bolster efforts to support tribal sovereignty, economic development, culture, language, and restoration of ancestral land, such as the conservation efforts of Open Space Districts;
  • Respect the value and cultural diversity of immigrants’ contributions to California’s rural and agricultural economy by demanding stronger protections for agricultural workers, including public benefits, regulation of work hours, worker safety, provisions for adequate housing and health services for migrant workers, and harassment protections;
  • Commit to closing the “digital divide” with the equitable and expeditious deployment of state owned and operated, open access, public safety grade broadband “middle mile” infrastructure, and ensure additional funds equitably reach rural California for “last mile” infrastructure to homes, businesses and working agricultural lands;
  • Support resources to improve rural election technology and voting procedures and provide funding for vote-by-mail elections in rural counties;
  • Effectively implement the state’s modern housing regulations in rural communities, including support for increased financing, subsidy options, and tax incentives to promote new affordable housing development in rural counties as well as support for public transit options necessary to ensure residents’ access to economic centers;
  • Create a rural economic development plan and encourage rural business growth to create and retain jobs;
  • Improve rural disaster resilience by increasing vegetation management on both public and private rural roads, providing fire safe clearing on State and Federal land at the Wildlife-Urban Interface (“WUI”), and providing funding for emergency equipment, and public safety grade communications for wildfire evacuation and recovery;
  • Provide financial incentives for private homeowners to remove biomass fuels from properties;
  • Prevent insurance agencies from cancelling homeowner and fire insurance policies or declining to provide policy coverage in WUI areas; and,
  • Establish a unified definition of “rural” that is helpful in securing federal and state grants for rural communities in need.
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