Hill Introduces Bills to Earmark Bulk of Billion-Dollar PG&E Fine to Pipeline Safety, Require Greater Transparency for Travel by Public Officials and Extend Youth Tobacco Laws to E-Cigarettes

December 01, 2014

Office of Senator Jerry Hill -- News Release

Senator Jerry Hill Ushers in New Legislative Session by Introducing Bills to Earmark Bulk of Billion-Dollar PG&E Fine to Pipeline Safety, Require Greater Transparency for Elected Official Travel and Extend Youth Tobacco Laws to E-Cigarettes

Peninsula Democrat Also Re-Introduces Bills That Would Ensure Judicious Use of Antibiotics in Livestock and Set Privacy Standards for Use of Automatic License Plate Readers

SACRAMENTO –Today, the first day of the California Legislature’s new session, Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo/Santa Clara counties, introduced five bills covering a range of issues, including consumer protection, greater transparency of travel by elected officials and privacy safeguards.

SB 18 – PG&E Penalty: Gas Pipeline Improvement and Safety Funding

Would require that the bulk of the proposed $1.4 billion fine against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for the deadly 2010 San Bruno explosion is spent on pipeline improvements and related safety measures, instead of going to the state’s General Fund. Under the fine as proposed by the CPUC, only $400 million would go for pipeline improvements, about $50 million would be allotted to enhance pipeline safety and $950 million would go to the state General Fund. The $950 million could be spent in other regions of the state, but that allocation would come at the expense of customers in PG&E’s service area, who already are expected to face $12 billion in rate hikes to pay for PG&E’s work to bring its pipeline system up to modern standards. SB 18 would prevent customers from bearing even more costs related to pipeline modernization and safety measures and promote continued focus on pipeline safety improvements in two ways: The bill would establish an independent monitor, who would oversee PG&E’s use of customers’ money for safety upgrades, and it would fund a pipeline safety trust for California – a similar entity was created in Washington state after a deadly pipeline disaster in 1999.

SB 21 – Transparency for Public Officials’ Travel

Would require elected officials to disclose to the FPPC the destination of travel paid for by special interests. Would also require nonprofits that pay for travel by public officials to disclose to the FPPC the name of the donors responsible for funding the travel. Under current law, the public has no way of knowing who is paying for legislator travel or where they are going. Donors hide behind nonprofits, preventing the public from knowing who was behind the gift to the elected official. An analysis by the Sacramento Bee found that California lawmakers received more than $550,000 in travel-related expenses from outside organizations in 2013. This is a reintroduction of a portion of SB 831 from the 2014 legislative session, which was vetoed by the governor.

SB 24 – E-Cigarette Youth Protections

Would extend youth tobacco laws – known as the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act – to e-cigarettes. In order to prevent poisoning, the bill would also require that e-cigarette liquids be equipped with child proof caps. Under current law, California’s laws that prevent youth access to cigarettes and tobacco do not apply to e-cigarettes. New numbers from the CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey indicate a rise in the use of e-cigarettes by youth. For example, the percentage of high school students who said they had used an e-cigarette within the last 30 days jumped to 4.5%, up from 2.8% in 2012. According to recent news reports, as the popularity of e-cigarettes has grown, reports of nicotine poisonings from children ingesting e-cigarette liquids has grown as well. In 2012 there were 28 calls to California Poison Control System for nicotine poisoning, in 2013 there were 106 calls, and so far this year there have been 203 calls.

SB 27 – Judicious Use of Antibiotics in Livestock

Would implement first-in-the-nation laws to ensure the judicious use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. The bill would require a veterinarian prescription for any antibiotic administered to livestock or poultry, would ban the use of antibiotics to promote growth or increase feed inefficiency, would require the California Department of Food and Agriculture to develop antibiotic stewardship guidelines, and would require the department to also develop a system to accurately track and monitor the amount of antibiotics used in livestock and poultry. Misuse and overuse of antibiotics are significant contributors to antibiotic resistance, a growing public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every year resistance to antibiotics kills at least 23,000 Americans and infects 2 million. Because at least 70 percent of antibiotics are sold for use in livestock, it’s important to ensure that those antibiotics are used judiciously to help reduce antibiotic resistance. This bill is similar to Senator Hill’s SB 835 from last year, which was vetoed by the governor.

SB 34 – Standards for Automatic License Plate Readers

Would establish minimum privacy, usage and transparency standards for the use of Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) systems. Specifically, the bill would require ALPR operators to implement security parameters to protect ALPR data and would require all ALPR operators to develop a privacy and usage policy that, at a minimum, states the authorized purposes for using ALPR systems, states how long the operator will maintain ALPR data, and includes a description of how the use of ALPR systems will be monitored to ensure compliance with privacy laws and a process for periodic audits. The privacy policy must be posted on the entities’ website. In addition, the bill would require that ALPR operators maintain a record of who accesses the ALPR data and would require that a public agency considering implementation of an ALPR program to provide an opportunity for public comment at a regularly scheduled public meeting of the public agency’s governing body before such a program is adopted. Used primarily by law enforcement agencies, automatic license plate reader technology uses a combination of high-speed cameras, software and criminal databases to rapidly check the license plates of millions of Californians. The technology is also used by private, non-law enforcement entities, such as parking and repossession companies. While at least seven other states have passed laws to regulate the growing use of automatic license plate readers, California has not done so. This is a reintroduction of Senator Hill’s SB 893 from last year, which did not pass the state Senate.

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Media Contacts:Aurelio Rojas, 916-747-3199 cell; Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404 cell