Yee: death of bill will unnecessarily put lives at risk

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications killed legislation designed to bring accountability to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

SB 1403, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), would have required a vote of the entire Commission before a case being investigated was assigned to a specific commissioner. Under current practice, case assignments are made solely by the CPUC president.

“There is no rational reason for the power to be so exclusively held by the CPUC president,” said Yee, whose district includes the site of the San Bruno disaster of 2010.

Yee’s bill also would have required the CPUC staff to report and be accountable to the full Commission. Instead, the status quo will continue with the CPUC staff reporting only to the president.

“By killing this bill, the Committee sent the wrong message to California families,” said Yee. “After the San Bruno disaster, I would hope that all lawmakers would be supportive of efforts to hold the CPUC accountable and bring about much-needed reforms at the Commission. Unfortunately, the death of SB 1403 will unnecessarily put more lives at risk.”

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to ensure the public release of all accident reports that are filed with the CPUC or generated by the commission.

Yee’s SB 1000 would also require the CPUC to revise its rules and regulations related to public access of records as well as make improvements on the commission’s website to ensure greater transparency of investigations, tests, and other reports.

“Californians have a fundamental right to know how their government is working,” said Yee. “SB 1000 ensures that members of the public have access to safety-related documents that affect their families.”

Most documents at the CPUC are shielded by a secrecy statute passed in 1951 and a Commission rule adopted in the mid-1970s.


Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008