Capitol Alert

Reducing blackout risks + Lawmakers convene to talk vaping

It’s Wednesday, readers! Thanks for starting your morning with the Capitol Alert team.


State Sen. Scott Wiener is taking no breaks from legislation to drive greater accountability into PG&E.

The San Francisco Democrat recently announced a bill to “place reasonable, commonsense mechanisms” that ensure utilities are “pursuing planned blackouts with adequate prudence” rather than shutting off power due to “knee-jerk” reactions.

Senate Bill 378 would require the California Public Utilities Commission to create a process for stakeholders to recover lost costs associated with planned blackouts, according to Wiener’s office.

The proposal would also mandate greater risk assessment and push utilities to report the consequences that resulted from planned power outages.

Wiener introduced the legislation in response to the company’s planned blackouts last week that shut off power to hundreds of thousands of Californians.

“People rely on electricity for their medicine, their food, and their livelihood,” Wiener said on Oct. 9. “This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs. While targeted blackouts can help prevent wildfires, we can’t let PG&E normalize these blackouts.”

The senator announced on Tuesday that his measure was endorsed by Bay Area leaders, including mayors from San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Berkeley.

After PG&E’s blackout, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on the company to pay $100 to each affected customer.

“Californians should not pay the price for decades of PG&E’s greed and neglect,” Newsom announced on Monday. “PG&E’s mismanagement of the power shutoffs experienced last week was unacceptable. We will continue to hold PG&E accountable to make radical changes – prioritizing the safety of Californians and modernizing its equipment.”


Vaping products have been front and center in national headlines lately, and for good reason.

  • Concerned parents and public health officials warn that teenagers are turning to e-cigarettes more often, prompting an outcry that young people are hopelessly addicted to vaping products and are getting sick because of that dependence.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed nearly 1,300 vaping-related lung injuries this month, along with more than two dozen deaths across the country.
  • Newsom signed an executive order in mid-September to require stores selling the devices to post warning signs about health risks associated with using the products, and he directed California tax collectors to increase regulation of the industry.
  • The federal government is also taking action to crack down on flavored tobacco products.

Today, three Assembly committee chairs are holding the first of two joint informational hearings on the “health effects and deficiencies in regulation and law for vaping tobacco and cannabis products.”

Democratic Assemblymen Adam Gray of Merced, Evan Low of Campbell and Jim Wood of Santa Rosa are scheduled to lead the overview session. The three lead the Governmental Organization, Business and Professions and Health Committees, respectively. Medical professionals, tobacco and vaping experts and state government regulators are expected to testify.

The hearing is set to begin at 1 p.m. in room 4202.


“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time, we will not be having a vote.”

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that she was not holding a House vote on an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president.

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.