Governor Brown Signs CPUC Reform Legislation by Senator Hill

October 02, 2017

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – October 2, 2017

Governor Brown Signs CPUC Reform Legislation by Senator Hill

Final Component of 2016 Reform Package Now in Place

 

Sacramento – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation today by Senator Jerry Hill to enact reforms that will bring more oversight to the California Public Utilities Commission and enable the agency to better focus on its mission as the state’s utilities regulator.

“Senate Bill 19 is aimed at ensuring that the CPUC exercises its regulatory mission with integrity and the public in mind,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

The provisions of the new law, which takes effect January 1, make up the final component of a CPUC reform legislative package that Senator Hill, with then-Senator Mark Leno and then Assemblymember Mike Gatto, negotiated with Governor Brown in 2016. The agreement capped years of audits and oversight hearings examining the watchdog agency and its operations.

While applauding the governor’s approval of SB 19, Hill stressed that the CPUC’s work to improve its operations and performance – and legislative oversight of those efforts – will press forward.

“This bill implements remaining reforms that were announced in 2016, but rest assured that we have every expectation that the CPUC will continue to step up its efforts to improve its operations and performance as a regulator,” said Senator Hill. “I will work to ensure that rigorous oversight of the CPUC continues so that further reforms will be addressed as needed. The regulator of California’s public utilities must make sure that safe, efficient service to the public is at the heart of every decision and action so that the tragedy of the San Bruno explosion is not repeated.”

SB 19 implements the key reforms of SB 1017 (Hill) and AB 2903 (Gatto) by:

  • Following the State Auditor’s recommendation, clarifying that the PUC must notify the Attorney General before seeking outside legal consultants.
  • Prohibiting utility executives from serving on the PUC within two years of leaving the utility.
  • Creating an ethics officer within the CPUC Legal Division to oversee training programs and confidentially advise commissioners and staff.
  • Authorizing the CPUC to audit any entity created by the CPUC.
  • Stating that the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the agency serves at the pleasure of the Commission.
  • Codifying the position of chief internal auditor.
  • Authorizing the CPUC Executive Director to establish cross-agency training partnerships.
  • Requiring the CPUC’s Public Advisor to receive and assess the complaints from the public and make recommendations for resolving those issues.
  • Moving regulation of moving vans from the CPUC to the Bureau of Electric Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings, and Thermal Insulation in the Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • Transferring the regulation of insurance and registration requirements from the CPUC to other state and local agencies:
    • For-hire-vessels, to the Division of Boating & Waterways.
    • Private motor carriers, to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
    • Commercial air operators, to local jurisdictions.

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Resources:

Text of Senate Bill 19:
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB19

Governor’s Legislative Update for October 2, 2017:
https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19982

Governor’s 2016 Announcement of CPUC Reforms:
https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19461

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404 cell, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov