BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2092


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          Date of Hearing:  May 4, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          AB  
          2092 (Frazier) - As Introduced February 17, 2016


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill expands the allowable uses of Abandoned Watercraft  
          Abatement Fund (AWAF) revenues to include the abatement,  
          removal, storage, or disposal of commercial vessels.









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          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Significant increased cost pressure on the AWAF of at least  
          several hundred thousand dollars annually.


          The 2015-16 Budget Act funds the AWAF with a transfer of $1.75  
          million from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund (HWRF).  
          (The same transfer is proposed for 2016-17.) The current  
          transfer represents a significant increase from the $775,000  
          transferred to AWAF in 2013-14. Even with the increased funding,  
          demand on the fund exceeds available resources, as grant  
          requests exceeded $2.2 million. It should be noted that the  
          HWRF-the fund source for the AWAF-is projected to have a reserve  
          of $102 million at the end of 2016-17.


          COMMENTS:


          1)Background. The AWAF was established in 1998 and is funded  
            with proceeds from vessel fuel taxes, vessel registration  
            fees, yacht and ship broker and sales person licensing fees,  
            as well as fines collected pursuant to laws prohibiting vessel  
            abandonment. The fund is used to provide grants to public  
            agencies for the abatement of non-commercial abandoned  
            vessels, as well as marine debris or any other partially  
            submerged objects that pose a navigation hazard.  According to  
            the Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW), AWAF funds  
            cannot be used to abate commercial vessels because the fund  
            was created by and revenues collected from recreational  
            boaters for the express use of abating recreational vessels.  


          2)Purpose. According to the sponsor, the California Sheriffs'  
            Association, because only non-commercial abandoned vessels  
            qualify for AWAF grants, and because local jurisdictions  








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            typically lack funds for vessel abatement, many commercial  
            vessels are not promptly removed.  As a result, over time, the  
            vessels sink and disintegrate.  The sponsor notes that once  
            the vessel is submerged and disintegrated, a local  
            jurisdiction can apply for AWAF revenues, because the vessel  
            is then considered "marine debris," and a qualifying use of  
            AWAF revenues. This sponsor contends this is situation is  
            ultimately more costly and environmentally damaging, and  
            argues that it makes more sense to remove vessels that present  
            a strike hazard or environmental impacts regardless of their  
            commercial or non-commercial status.


          3)Opposition. The Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC) is  
            concerned that that opening up boater fuel tax and  
            registration fee revenues in AWAF to abate commercial vessels  
            would quickly deplete the fund since these vessels are  
            significantly more expensive to remove. RBOC argues that,  
            since commercial vessels do not contribute to the fund,  
            recreational vessel abatement should take priority. 


            Also in opposition, a number of private citizens, contend that  
            commercial vessels, while clearly representing a danger on  
            California waterways, are easily identified and, therefore,  
            the owners of these vessels should be required to pay the  
            abatement and clean-up costs.


          Analysis Prepared by:Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081
















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