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.