Capitol Alert

Legislative fights still hanging + Dirty water protests

California lawmakers end efforts to reduce PG&E’s liability for wildfires

California lawmakers had the chance to reduce PG&E's liability for wildfires, but chose not to continue with the efforts.
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California lawmakers had the chance to reduce PG&E's liability for wildfires, but chose not to continue with the efforts.


Today is the final day for lawmakers to file the latest — and last — versions of their bills if they want them to be taken up by the end of session. Under Proposition 54 — a 2016 ballot measure supported by nearly two-thirds of California voters — bills must be in print for 72 hours ahead of final floor votes.

The clock is ticking on the Legislature to resolve several key issues. By the end of the day, we will know which, if any, topics will be punted to next year. A couple issues that remain unresolved include:


Paying the bills for wildfire damage has proven to be a contentious issue. Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, announced earlier this month that lawmakers rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to reduce PG&E’s legal liability for wildfires.

A separate plan is being floated among lawmakers for electric utility companies to have customers slowly pay off their debts when they’re held responsible for wildfire costs. According to the proposal, companies like PG&E would issue bonds after a wildfire to help smooth out their costs and protect ratepayers from sudden bill increases. Critics call the bill a “bailout.”

Problems surrounding wildfires will only get worse, according to a climate change study state officials released Monday. The study estimates wildfires will grow 77 percent by the end of the century.


In April, the state Supreme Court established a stricter standard of what constitutes an independent contractor. This case prompted debate within the Capitol community this month over who is considered an employee.

The California business community has been vigorously lobbying the Legislature to suspend the court ruling so it can develop its own method for coming up with a more concrete definition of “employee.” Meanwhile, labor organizations are defending the court’s ruling and consider it a win for economically-stressed workers.


Mac Taylor will soon be leaving his post as the leader of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. The search for the next Legislative Analyst is beginning under a bipartisan four-member subcommittee housed within the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, will chair the subcommittee with a fellow Democrat and two Republicans.


Families across California unhappy about the condition of their drinking water will hold protests at the Capitol each day until the end of session. They are calling on the Legislature to pass Senate Bills 844 and 845. In their daily demonstrations this week, they will display samples of dirty water flowing from their taps.

Brown supports the bills, which would impose a fee on ratepayers — along with an opt-out provision — to fund safe drinking water projects. Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, introduced the bills, which would also raise taxes on dairies and fertilizer manufacturers. While the tax isn’t mandatory, it could face opposition this week from lawmakers afraid of supporting a new tax in an election year. The Senate is waiting for the Assembly to take action on the bills.


“Single-payer healthcare is contrary to our American principles of competition, choice, and excellence. The government does a poor job at running monopolies, and in other countries where single payer healthcare is in place, such as Canada and Great Britain, there are long lines for basic procedures, and older people are denied life-saving care for serious diseases due to rationing. As it is in California, we have a shortage of physicians who provide general and family medical services. Imagine how much worse choice and availability will be when the government adds low compensation, more bureaucracy, and less job satisfaction to the mix. Gavin Newsom’s plan is a disaster, a pie-in-the-sky concept long on rhetoric but devoid of practical considerations. It’s typical of a millionaire politician to propose ‘solutions’ that ignore the reality for the common man and woman. John Cox has the right, market-based solutions for California’s health care challenges, and can achieve his goals because his proposal is what Californians want and need—choice, quality, affordability.”

— Harmeet Dhillon, Republican National Committeemember and Partner, Dhillon Law Group


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The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board believes a joint meeting between the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento City Unified School District’s board is a good start.


Jack Ohman salutes the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.