Newsom’s Wildfire Proposal Sparks Reaction

Published on


April 15, 2019

Gov. Gavin Newsom is getting pushback by lawmakers on some proposals.

Let the wildfire negotiations begin: PG&E stock popped, but lawmakers are balking at provocative proposals put forward by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “strike force” for recovering the increasingly staggering costs of climate-driven wildfires.

Especially hot: A suggestion that California reduce utilities’ liability when they aren’t at fault by overhauling inverse condemnation law.

* Under the state’s version of inverse condemnation, utilities are liable for any wildfire damage traced to their equipment even if they were not negligent in maintaining it.

* Newsom recommends a fault-based standard, which would shift more risk to insurance companies and uninsured property owners, CALmatters’ Judy Lin reports.

* Insurance companies could raise rates dramatically or stop offering coverage.

Newsom wants legislation in the next 90 days. Changing liability law will be the new governor’s first real test as a chief executive at persuading legislators. Gov. Jerry Brown took a stab at it last year without success.

Assembly Utilities Committee Chairman Chris Holden, who was involved in the failed 2018 effort: “Inverse condemnation is a hornet’s nest.”

Consumer Watchdog, an L.A.-based advocacy group, was quick to lay down a marker:

“A vote on a utility bailout is an existential moment for politicians who have taken utility money, junkets and drinks.”

Check out CALmatters’ explainer to learn more about why wildfires are getting worse.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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