Does your lawmaker support a special session to discuss PG&E power shutoffs, wildfires?

California

SACRAMENTO (KRON) – With wildfire season underway and the possibility for more widespread power shutoffs, we’re asking lawmakers if they think a special legislative session is needed on these issues?

There are still two months left before lawmakers come back to the Capitol to start passing new laws.

Governor Gavin Newsom has the power to call back lawmakers for a special legislative session to pass policy to address urgent issues, but he’s said multiple times recently he doesn’t think it’s necessary now with PG&E under the microscope of regulators and a strike team.

“To the extent more is needed, I will continue to pursue that,” Newsom said.

The specific question we posed to lawmakers was would you be supportive of a special session on issues seen now on public safety power shutoffs, investor-owned utilities, and fires?

In the assembly, more than half of the members either refused to comment or respond.  

28 members total said they would support one, including Assembly Member James Gallagher, who represents part of an area destroyed by last year’s deadly Camp Fire.

“It should take thought, you have to think through these issues, we could be doing that right now, we don’t necessarily have to wait until January,” Gallagher said.

The situation was similar in the Senate where more than half did not comment or respond while 15 members said they would support a special session.

Two senators flat out said they would not support one right now, including Bay Area lawmaker Jerry Hill.

“We need information first, you don’t bring legislators together to try to define the problems to work out solutions. Nothing worse than having a bunch of legislators coming together with no defined role around the holidays to come up with a solution, it would not be the best result, I can guarantee it,” Hill said.

The leaders of both chambers say they’re in constant contact with the governor on the issues.  

A committee of senators will gather Nov. 18 for an oversight hearing on power shutoffs. 

See how your representative responded to our poll:

No response = We reached out and they didn’t respond
No comment = We reached out and this was their response

Assembly (in alphabetical order)

DISTRICT 04 (D) Aguiar-Curry, Cecilia M. -Other: Statement: “I do not know if a special session of the legislature is the correct way to address the complex and urgent issues around wildfires and public safety power shutoffs.  What I do know is that they threaten the health and safety of my constituents as well as impose huge economic hardships on working families, low-income residents, seniors, and small businesses. This cannot continue!  I’m less concerned with what venue the Governor and Legislative leadership choose to address these widespread blackouts than I am about getting to the bottom of how much of this is absolutely necessary to protect the safety of the public, and how we can hold accountable anyone who would use them to protect corporate profit.”

31 (D) Arambula, Joaquin -No response

16 (D) Bauer-Kahan, Rebecca -Yes

24 (D) Berman, Marc -Yes

05 (R) Bigelow, Frank -No response

50 (D) Bloom, Richard -No

76 (D) Boerner Horvath, Tasha – Yes

18 (D) Bonta, Rob – No comment

73 (R) Brough, William P. -Yes

62 (D) Burke, Autumn R. – No comment

57 (D) Calderon, Ian C. – No comment

51 (D) Carrillo, Wendy -No response

60 (D) Cervantes, Sabrina -No response

 49 (D) Chau, Ed – Yes:  “If a special session is held, I am more than happy to work with the Governor and my colleagues.”

55 (R) Chen, Phillip – No response

17 (D) Chiu, David – Yes

08 (D) Cooley, Ken -No response

09 (D) Cooper, Jim -Unable to be reached

35 (R) Cunningham, Jordan – No response

69 (D) Daly, Tom -No comment

72 (R) Diep, Tyler – No response

13 (D) Eggman, Susan Talamantes – Yes

12 (R) Flora, Heath – Yes: Statement: “If the state is serious about working with the Feds, the environmentalists, and the business community on better managing California’s forests then I’m all-in for a special session. If it’s the same dog and pony show about who pays for wildfire damages, then it’ll be a waste of everyone’s time. The state’s been standing on a 33 million-acre tinder box trying to discourage people from lighting matches next to it so maybe it’s time to take a look at what’s under our feet.”

34 (R) Fong, Vince – Yes

11 (D) Frazier, Jim – No comment

43 (D) Friedman, Laura – Yes

45 (D) Gabriel, Jesse – No response

03 (R) Gallagher, James – Yes

58 (D) Garcia, Cristina – No comment

56 (D) Garcia, Eduardo – No comment

64 (D) Gipson, Mike A. – No response

78 (D) Gloria, Todd -No comment

80 (D) Gonzalez, Lorena -No response

21 (D) Gray, Adam C. -No response

14 (D) Grayson, Timothy S. -No comment

41 (D) Holden, Chris R. -No response

44 (D) Irwin, Jacqui – No response

59 (D) Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Reginald -No response

2196 27 (D) Kalra, Ash -Yes

54 (D) Kamlager, Sydney -Yes

06 (R) Kiley, Kevin -No response

36 (R) Lackey, Tom -Yes

10 (D) Levine, Marc -Yes

37 (D) Limón, Monique -No comment

28 (D) Low, Evan -Yes

77 (D) Maienschein, Brian -No response

26 (R) Mathis, Devon J. -Yes

42 (R) Mayes, Chad -Other, statement: “Special Sessions succeed when there is a clear, defined policy solution proposed in bill format. Special Sessions fail when there is not a clear defined policy to debate and oftentimes results in quick, not well thought out legislation that may give us unintended consequences and make the problem worse.”

07 (D) McCarty, Kevin -No comment

61 (D) Medina, Jose -No response

67 (R) Melendez, Melissa – No response

66 (D) Muratsuchi, Al -No comment

46 (D) Nazarian, Adrin -No response

33 (R) Obernolte, Jay -No response

70 (D) O’Donnell, Patrick -No comment

23 (R) Patterson, Jim -Yes

74 (D) Petrie-Norris, Cottie -Yes

20 (D) Quirk, Bill – No

65 (D) Quirk-Silva, Sharon – Yes, “I would be in favor of a special session to address the concerns of the PG&E power shutoffs, the impact of the recent fires, and other legislative matters if found necessary. I feel that most of my colleagues would agree that if a special session was proposed, they would agree.”

40 (D) Ramos, James C. -No comment

63 (D) Rendon, Anthony -Speaker-Statement: “I’ve been in regular contact with Governor Newsom, who is the only one with the authority to call a special session. I’m grateful to Assemblymember Chris Holden, chair of the Utilities and Energy Committee, for joining me in discussing the current wildfire crisis with the Governor.”

47 (D) Reyes, Eloise Gómez – No comment

39 (D) Rivas, Luz M. -No comment

30 (D) Rivas, Robert  -Yes, “The Governor is already taking steps needed to develop immediate solutions and ensure that these issues will be addressed when the legislature reconvenes in January. However, one benefit of having a special session is that bills become operative within 90 days, even absent an urgency clause. Special session or not, we must, and I’m confident the legislature will work diligently to address this crisis.”

52 (D) Rodriguez, Freddie -No response

48 (D) Rubio, Blanca E. -Yes

32 (D) Salas, Jr., Rudy -Yes

53 (D) Santiago, Miguel -No response

38 (D) Smith, Christy -Yes

29 (D) Stone, Mark -No response

19 (D) Ting, Philip Y. -No response

71 (R) Voepel, Randy -Yes

75 (R) Waldron, Marie -Yes, “Under a decade of Democratic leadership, our wildfires and utility markets have only gotten worse. We need action – if that means calling a special session, that’s what we should do.”

79 (D) Weber, Shirley N. -Unable to be reached

15 (D) Wicks, Buffy -Yes. “It’s exclusively up to our Governor to decide whether to convene a special session. I stand at the ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle this issue should he make that call.”

02 (D) Wood, Jim -Other, statement:  “The overwhelming and numerous impacts of these widespread PG&E power shutoffs, along with the loss and stress people are feeling after another devastating wildfire – apparently caused once again by PG&E equipment – only emphasizes the critical need for solutions. I have met hundreds of people who have gone days without power, not just losing the food in their refrigerators, but unable to work and get paid, small businesses that have lost thousands in income, schools shut down, parents scrambling for childcare, and our vulnerable seniors whose care has been disrupted. It seems to me that PG&E is only interested in protecting itself and recent comments by its CEO have proven him to be tone-deaf to the real-life impacts PG&E’s actions have had on the individuals and families who pay their salaries. Whether or not a special session is called, we are already doing the work by listening to our constituents, sharing thoughts with our colleagues and hearing from experts so that our solutions will acknowledge the urgency of these issues.”

Senate (in alphabetical order)

26 (D) Allen, Benjamin -No response

32 (D) Archuleta, Bob -No response

39 (D) Atkins, Toni -Pro Tem- Statement: “The Senate will be holding a hearing on Nov. 18 to discuss California’s response to wildfires and utility public safety power shutoffs. We will continue to work closely with the Administration to properly respond to this crisis.”

36 (R) Bates, Patricia -Yes

15 (D) Beall, Jim -No comment

08 (D) Borgeas, Andreas -Yes

35 (D) Bradford, Steven -Yes

12 (D) Caballero, Anna -No comment

29 (R) Chang, Ling Ling -Yes: “Blackouts and fires caused by bad power lines are unacceptable. The legislature and Governor need to address this problem as soon as humanly possible. I support the call for a special session as soon as we develop solutions to a problem that has take a decade to create.”

01 (R) Dahle, Brian -Yes, has publicly urged the Governor to call a special session

03 (D) Dodd, Bill -Yes

24 (D) Durazo, Maria Elena – No response

05 (D) Galgiani, Cathleen -No comment

07 (D) Glazer, Steven -Yes “If there is a proposal to enact immediate health and safety protections from fires and utility breakdowns and it requires a special session of the legislature to put it into effect, I would support such a session.”

33 (D) Gonzalez, Lena-Yes

16 (R) Grove, Shannon – Yes: “I support a special session because the Legislature needs to take immediate action and provide real solutions. Instead of diverting money to expensive renewable energy contracts, we need to focus on real priorities such as mitigating and preventing wildfires, hardening and providing a secure energy grid. Over the years, Senate Republicans have introduced commonsense legislation to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, invest in vegetation and forest management, and secure a reliable energy grid. Unfortunately, these measures have been ignored by the Democrats. This is the 21st Century, recurring power outages and destructive wildfires cannot be the new normal. California deserves better,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).

18 (D) Hertzberg, Robert -No comment

13 (D) Hill, Jerry -No

40 (D) Hueso, Ben -Other- Supports having November 18th oversight hearing

14 (D) Hurtado, Melissa -No comment

19 (D) Jackson, Hannah-Beth – No response

38 (R) Jones, Brian – Yes

20 (D) Leyva, Connie – Referred us to Governor’s office

02 (D) McGuire, Mike – No response

30 (D) Mitchell, Holly -No comment

17 (D) Monning, Bill– No comment

37 (R) Moorlach, John -Yes, “I would attend a special session because my constituents deserve reliable power and protection from wildfires. The current legislature rejected common-sense solutions to this issue when I authored SB 1463, so I’m not confident a new solution would be crafted quickly.”

23 (R) Morrell, Mike -Yes “I would support a special session as long as it focuses on the issues surrounding utility power shutoffs, wildfires, and homeowners insurance policy cancellations. It cannot become a free-for-all for legislative Democrats to create laws on unrelated topics outside the normal policymaking process.”   

04 (R) Nielsen, Jim -Yes

06 (D) Pan, Richard– No comment

25 (D) Portantino, Anthony -No response

31 (D) Roth, Richard-No response

22 (D) Rubio, Susan -Yes

09 (D) Skinner, Nancy -No response

27 (D) Stern, Henry -Other-“As a member of the Senate EU&C Committee, Senator Stern will be taking part in the November 18th hearing on the PSPS events.  As for what happens next, the Senator looks forward to working with the Senate Pro Tempore and the Administration.”

34 (D) Umberg, Thomas -Other- Will wait to see what happens with oversight hearing

10 (D) Wieckowski, Bob-No

11 (D) Wiener, Scott -No comment

21 (D) Wilk, Scott – Yes, publicly urged Newsom to call special session

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