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ACA-11 Public Utilities Commission.(2015-2016)

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ACA11:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 27, 2016

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 11


Introduced by Assembly Members Gatto, Gonzalez, Levine, and Wilk
(Principal coauthors: Assembly Members Dababneh and Roger Hernández)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Bigelow, Brough, and Dahle)

March 09, 2016


A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by adding Section 10 to Article XII thereof, and by repealing and adding Article XII thereof, relating to public utilities.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


ACA 11, as amended, Gatto. Public Utilities Commission.
The California Constitution establishes the Public Utilities Commission, with jurisdiction over all public utilities. The California Constitution grants the commission certain general powers over all public utilities, subject to control by the Legislature, and, among other things, authorizes the Legislature, unlimited by the other provisions of the Constitution, to confer additional authority and jurisdiction upon the commission that is cognate and germane to the regulation of public utilities, to establish the manner and scope of review of commission action in a court of record, and to enable the commission to fix just compensation for utility property taken by eminent domain. The Public Utilities Act and other provisions of the Public Utilities Code set forth the structure, funding, and responsibilities of the commission.
This measure would authorize the Legislature to reallocate or reassign all or a portion of the functions of the commission to other state agencies, departments, boards, or other entities, consistent with specified purposes. The measure would direct the Legislature to adopt appropriate structures to provide greater accountability for the public utilities of the state and provide the necessary guidance to the commission to focus its regulatory efforts on safety, reliability, and ratesetting and to implement statutorily authorized programs for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
This measure would repeal the provisions of the California Constitution pertaining to the commission effective January 1, 2019, while specifying that a statute that was valid at the time the statute was enacted is not invalid by virtue of the repeal of those constitutional provisions.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

WHEREAS, The 21st century has brought about many changes to technology and to the delivery of services and necessities that were unforeseeable in 1911 when the “Railroad Commission” was enshrined in the California Constitution; and
WHEREAS, The 1946 constitutional amendment that renamed the Railroad Commission as the Public Utilities Commission, and gave it added authority over our natural gas, electrical, telephone, and water companies, was also the product of a different era, when these utilities and common carriers were grouped together in the hopes that one regulatory body could best regulate services used by the public on a daily basis; and
WHEREAS, The commission has taken the position that its authority can only be expanded, which has resulted in an ever-growing bureaucracy that now has jurisdiction over not only gas, electrical, telecommunications, water utilities, and railroads, but also hot-air balloons, moving companies, moving companies and ride-sharing applications; and
WHEREAS, In the over one hundred years since its establishment, the industries under the oversight of the commission have grown and evolved in ways that have rendered the current structure of the commission inefficient and obsolete, leaving Californians without the oversight and regulatory protections that we need, particularly in matters involving workforce and public safety; and
WHEREAS, Recent events have caused grave concern around our state and have highlighted the ineffectiveness of the current system, specifically, in the Bay Area, the tragic San Bruno pipeline explosion, which took many lives; in the Central Valley and Sacramento, the significant concerns about the oil trains that traverse those regions; in San Diego and Orange County, the serious concerns about San Onofre and nuclear waste storage; and in Los Angeles County, the fact that thousands of residents had to flee their homes because of a gas leak of unprecedented size, which greatly polluted our state’s air and caused many to worry about the efficacy of the safety and inspection programs designed to stop catastrophes like it; and
WHEREAS, Despite these failures to protect the public, our electrical, gas, water, and telephone rates have continued to rise; and
WHEREAS, The commission has also suffered from ethical lapses, notably the failure to report ex parte communications, and the closeness of commission personnel to the entities they are supposed to regulate; and
WHEREAS, The people of California would be better served with more nimble, focused, and specialized regulators, whose actions would result in far greater accountability; and
WHEREAS, The Legislature should be forced to rethink the manner in which utilities, common carriers, and other related entities are regulated, and to create new structures that would enable regulators to focus on safety, reliability, and affordability of essential services, consumer protections for nonessential services, and protecting and preserving our environment; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly, the Senate concurring, That the Legislature of the State of California at its 2015–16 Regular Session commencing on the first day of December 2014, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of the State of California that the Constitution of the State be amended as follows:

First—

 This measure shall be known and may be cited as the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016.

Second—

 That Section 10 is added to Article XII thereof, to read:

SEC. 10.
 (a) (1) Notwithstanding Section 4, after the date the measure adding this section is enacted, the Legislature has the power and authority to reallocate or reassign all or a portion of the functions of the Public Utilities Commission to other state agencies, departments, boards, or other entities it may create.
(2) The Legislature’s reallocation or reassignment of these functions shall be in furtherance of consumer protection, public health, environmental protection, increased transparency, public access, and preserving the ability of third parties to advocate for and intervene on behalf of those that need their advocacy.
(b) The Legislature shall adopt appropriate structures to provide greater accountability for the public utilities of this state and shall provide the necessary guidance to focus regulatory efforts on safety, reliability, and ratesetting and to implement statutorily authorized programs for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Third—

 That Article XII is repealed effective January 1, 2019.

Fourth—

 That Article XII is added thereto, effective January 1, 2019, to read:
Article  XII PUBLIC UTILITIES

SECTION 1.
 A statute that was valid at the time of its enactment is not invalid by virtue of the repeal of the former Article XII by the measure that added this article.