SENATE VOTES AGAINST CPUC TRANSPARENCY BILL

Legislation to disclose accident reports and other records falls two votes short

SACRAMENTO – After heaving lobbying from the utility industry, legislation to ensure the public release of all accident reports that are filed with or generated by the California Public Utilities Commission, today failed to receive the requisite 21 votes for passage in the State Senate.

SB 1000, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), would also have required 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.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Senate failed to pass this much-needed open government bill,” said Yee. “Californians have a fundamental right to know how their government is working, and SB 1000 would ensure that members of the public have access to safety-related documents that affect their families. I will continue to push this issue and work to get two more votes on reconsideration.”

SB 1000 received 19 aye votes and 17 no votes today, but was granted reconsideration. Yee plans to take the bill up again in the next couple of weeks.

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

“If the San Bruno disaster has taught us anything, it is that we need to be vigilant in ensuring utility companies are not endangering our communities,” said Yee. “The CPUC is supposed to be there to protect us and not act as a barrier to public access.”

Yee introduced a series of bills to hold the CPUC accountable, however all three have stalled in the Senate.

SB 1403, to require a vote of the entire Commission before assigning cases to specific commissioners and to require CPUC staff to report and be accountable to the full Commission and not just the president, was killed by the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

SB 981 to stop the revolving door of employees between the utilities companies and the CPUC is currently on the suspense file in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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