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SB-19 Public Utilities Commission: duties and responsibilities: governance.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/14/2017 09:00 PM
SB19:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  March 14, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 19


Introduced by Senator Hill

December 05, 2016


An act to add Section 13979.5 to the Government Code, and to amend Sections 303, 308, 309, 321, 632, and 1759 of, and to add Sections 307.2, 307.5, 307.6, 314.6, 912.3, and 8331 to, the Public Utilities Code, relating to the Public Utilities Commission.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 19, as amended, Hill. Public Utilities Commission: duties and responsibilities: governance.
(1) Existing law establishes the Public Utilities Commission, with regulatory jurisdiction and authority over public utilities, including common carriers, electrical corporations, gas corporations, telephone corporations, and water corporations. Existing law prohibits a commissioner from holding an official relation to or having a financial interest in a person or corporation subject to regulation by the commission and requires the commission to adopt an updated Conflict of Interest Code and Statement of Incompatible Activities by February 28, 1998.
This bill would prohibit an executive of a public utility from serving as a commissioner within 2 years after leaving the employment of the utility. The bill would require the commission to maintain an updated Conflict of Interest Code and Statement of Incompatible Activities. The bill would establish an ethics officer within the legal division of the commission. The ethics officer would be appointed by the commission and would be responsible for instituting a program of enhanced ethics training for all commissioners and employees of the commission. The ethic ethics officer would additionally be responsible for providing confidential advice to commissioners and employees of the commission relative to the commission’s Conflict of Interest Code, Statement of Incompatible Activities, and limitations on ex parte communications.
(2) Existing law requires the commission to appoint an executive director who is responsible for the commission’s executive and administrative duties and to organize, coordinate, supervise, and direct the operations and affairs of the commission and expedite all matters within the commission’s jurisdiction. Existing law authorizes the executive director to employ those officers, administrative law judges, experts, engineers, statisticians, accountants, inspectors, clerks, and employees as the executive director deems necessary to carry out the provisions of the Public Utilities Act or to perform the duties and exercise the powers conferred upon the commission by law.
This bill would authorize the executive director to authorize commission employees to undertake temporary training and development assignments with other agencies, departments, and commissions that undertake coordinated activities with the commission, including the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, the State Air Resources Board, and the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources. The bill would require the executive director to work with the University of California, the California State University, and other postsecondary educational institutions to develop curriculum and training necessary or useful to candidates for employment with the commission. The bill would require the commission to appoint a chief administrative law judge and a chief internal auditor, to hold office at the pleasure of the commission and to perform specified functions. The bill would shift responsibility for keeping a full and true record of all proceedings of the commission from the executive director to the chief administrative law judge.
(3) Existing law requires that the commission comply with specified requirements when entering into contracts for consultant or advisory services, except when the commission makes a finding that extraordinary circumstances justify expedited contracting for consultant or advisory services.
This bill would clarify that these requirements apply to contracts for legal services by attorneys who are not employees of the commission. The bill would require that the commission obtain the written consent of the Attorney General before contracting for legal services by attorneys who are not employees of the commission.
(4) The California Constitution authorizes the commission to establish rules, examine records, and prescribe a uniform system of accounts for all public utilities. The Public Utilities Act requires the commission to inspect and audit the books and records of electrical corporations, gas corporations, heat corporations, telegraph corporations, telephone corporations, and water corporations for regulatory and tax purposes.
This bill would authorize the commission to conduct financial and performance audits of any entity or program created by any order, decision, motion, settlement, or other action of the commission. The bill would authorize the commission to conduct additional followup work that is related to any findings and recommendations related to the audit. If the commission undertakes an audit pursuant to this authority, the bill would require the commission to transmit a copy of the audit report to the Legislature and to the Governor immediately upon completion of the audit and to make the report available to the public.
(5) Existing law requires the commission to establish an office of the public advisor and requires the office of the public advisor to assist members of the public and ratepayers who desire to testify before or present information to the commission in any hearing or proceeding of the commission.
This bill would require the public advisor to receive complaints and comments from members of the public concerning how the commission is carrying out its functions. The bill would require the public advisor to assess the nature of substantive complaints and comments from members of the public and take them into consideration when analyzing and recommending options for resolution of the matters underlying those complaints and comments. The public advisor would be required to maintain the confidentiality of the identity of a member of the public who makes a complaint or comment unless the member of the public expressly indicates a desire to communicate his or her identity to the commission.
(6) The California Constitution grants the Legislature plenary authority, unlimited by the other provisions of the Constitution, to establish the manner and scope of review of commission action in a court of record. The Public Utilities Act provides that no court of the state, except the Supreme Court and the courts of appeal, has jurisdiction to review, reverse, correct, or annul any order or decision of the commission, to suspend or delay the execution or operation thereof, or to enjoin, restrain, or interfere with the commission in the performance of its official duties.
This bill would authorize an action against the commission arising under the California Public Records Act to be brought in the superior court.
(7) The Nuclear Facility Decommissioning Act of 1985 requires the commission to undertake certain steps relative to the decommissioning of a nuclear powerplant by an electrical corporation.
This bill would require the commission to advocate before the relevant federal entities, including the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, for expedited relocation of identification of an independent offsite spent fuel storage installation for any spent fuel stored in the state to an independent, offsite spent fuel storage installation. state.
(8) Existing law establishes the Transportation Agency under the supervision of the Secretary of Transportation.
This bill would make legislative findings and declarations relative to the administration working with the commission to develop a reorganization plan to transfer those duties and responsibilities of the commission over transportation-related entities that will be better performed by departments within the state’s Transportation Agency. The bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to report to the Governor and to the relevant committees of the Legislature, by February 1 of each year statistical information regarding application, permit, and enforcement activities undertaken by the agency in its administration of duties and responsibilities transferred to the agency from the commission and to include in the report an analysis of the agency’s performance in discharging those duties and responsibilities transferred to the agency from the commission.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares that in his September 29, 2016, signing message for Senate Bills 62, 215, 512, and 661 (Chapters 806, 807, 808, and 809 of the Statutes of 2016), Governor Edmund G. Brown directed his administration to work with the Public Utilities Commission to develop a reorganization plan to transfer those duties and responsibilities of the commission over transportation-related entities that will be better performed by departments within the state’s Transportation Agency.

SEC. 2.

 Section 13979.5 is added to the Government Code, to read:

13979.5.
 By February 1 of each year, the secretary shall report to the Governor and to the relevant committees of the Legislature statistical information regarding application, permit, and enforcement activities undertaken by the agency in its administration of duties and responsibilities transferred to the agency from the Public Utilities Commission. The secretary shall include in the report an analysis of the agency’s performance in discharging those duties and responsibilities transferred to the agency from the Public Utilities Commission.

SEC. 3.

 Section 303 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

303.
 (a) A public utilities commissioner may not hold an official relation to, nor have a financial interest in, a person or corporation subject to regulation by the commission. If any commissioner acquires a financial interest in a corporation or person subject to regulation by the commission other than voluntarily, his or her office shall become vacant unless within a reasonable time he or she divests himself or herself of the interest.
(b) No executive of a public utility may serve as commissioner within two years after leaving the employment of the utility.
(c) The commission shall maintain an updated Conflict of Interest Code and Statement of Incompatible Activities in a manner consistent with applicable law.

SEC. 4.

 Section 307.2 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

307.2.
 There is within the legal division of the commission an ethics officer who shall be appointed by the commission. The ethics officer shall be responsible for both of the following:
(a) Instituting a program of enhanced ethics training for all commissioners and employees of the commission, including training concerning the commission’s Conflict of Interest Code, Statement of Incompatible Activities, and limitations upon ex parte communications.
(b) Providing confidential advice to commissioners and employees of the commission on compliance with the commission’s Conflict of Interest Code, Statement of Incompatible Activities, and limitations upon ex parte communications. The ethics officer shall maintain the confidentiality of the commissioner’s or employee’s identity unless the commissioner or employee expressly indicates a desire to communicate his or her identity to the commission.

SEC. 5.

 Section 307.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

307.5.
 (a) The commission shall appoint a chief administrative law judge, who shall hold office at the pleasure of the commission.
(b) The chief administrative law judge shall be responsible for the oversight of the administrative law judge division and shall organize, coordinate, supervise, and direct the operations of the division as directed by the commission, consistent with commission policies and priorities.
(c) The chief administrative law judge shall keep a full and true record of all proceedings of the commission.

SEC. 6.

 Section 307.6 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

307.6.
 (a) The commission shall appoint a chief internal auditor, who shall hold office at the pleasure of the commission.
(b) The chief internal auditor shall be responsible for the oversight of the internal audit unit and shall plan, initiate, and perform audits of key financial, management, operational, and information technology functions within the commission to improve accountability and transparency to executive and state management.
(c) The chief internal auditor shall report his or her findings and recommendations directly to an audit subcommittee of the commission.
(d) The chief internal auditor shall comply with Part 3.5 (commencing with Section 13885) of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

SEC. 7.

 Section 308 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

308.
 (a) The commission shall appoint an executive director, who shall hold office during its pleasure. The executive director shall be responsible for the commission’s executive and administrative duties and shall organize, coordinate, supervise, and direct the operations and affairs of the commission and expedite all matters within the commission’s jurisdiction.
(b) The executive director shall issue all necessary process, writs, warrants, and notices and perform those other duties as the president, or vote of the commission, prescribes. The president may authorize the executive director to dismiss complaints or applications when all parties are in agreement thereto, in accordance with rules that the commission may prescribe.
(c) The commission may appoint assistant executive directors who may serve warrants and other process in any county or city and county of this state.

SEC. 8.

 Section 309 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

309.
 (a) The executive director may employ such officers, administrative law judges, experts, engineers, statisticians, accountants, inspectors, clerks, and employees as the executive director deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this part or to perform the duties and exercise the powers conferred upon the commission by law. All officers and employees shall receive such compensation as is fixed by the commission.
(b) The executive director may authorize commission employees to undertake temporary training and development assignments with other agencies, departments, and commissions that undertake coordinated activities with the commission, including the Energy Commission, the State Air Resources Board, and the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources.
(c) The executive director shall work with the University of California, the California State University, and other postsecondary educational institutions to develop curriculum and training necessary or useful to candidates for employment with the commission.

SEC. 9.

 Section 314.6 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

314.6.
 (a) The commission may conduct financial and performance audits of any entity or program created by any order, decision, motion, settlement, or other action of the commission.
(b) The commission shall complete any audit in a timely manner consistent with the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards developed by the United States Government Accountability Office.
(c) After performing an audit pursuant to this section, the commission may conduct additional followup work that is related to any findings and recommendations related to the audit.

SEC. 10.

 Section 321 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

321.
 (a) The commission shall appoint a public advisor and establish an office of the public advisor, including a separate office in the Los Angeles office of the commission. The commission may employ staff as necessary to carry out the duties of the office of the public advisor. The office of the public advisor shall assist members of the public and ratepayers who desire to testify before or present information to the commission in any hearing or proceeding of the commission. The public advisor shall advise the commission on procedural matters relating to public participation in proceedings of the commission.
(b) The public advisor and executive director shall publicize the commission’s programs for encouraging and supporting participation in the commission’s proceedings.
(c) The public advisor shall receive complaints and comments from members of the public concerning how the commission is carrying out its functions. The public advisor shall maintain the confidentiality of the identity of a member of the public who makes a complaint or comment unless the member of the public expressly indicates a desire to communicate his or her identity to the commission. The public advisor shall assess the nature of substantive complaints and comments from members of the public and take them into consideration when analyzing and recommending options for resolution of the matters underlying those complaints and comments.

SEC. 11.

 Section 632 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

632.
 For purposes of entering into contracts for consultant or advisory services, including contracting for legal services by attorneys who are not employees of the commission, the requirements of Sections 11042 and 14615 of the Government Code and Sections 10295 and 10318 of the Public Contract Code apply to the activities of the commission, except when the commission makes a finding that extraordinary circumstances justify expedited contracting for consultant or advisory services. The written consent of the Attorney General is required before the commission may contract for legal services by attorneys who are not employees of the commission.

SEC. 12.

 Section 912.3 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

912.3.
 Immediately upon completion of an audit of any entity or program created by any order, decision, motion, settlement, or other action by the commission conducted pursuant to Section 314.6, the commission shall transmit a copy of the audit report to the Legislature, including to the appropriate policy and fiscal committees or subcommittees of the Legislature, and to the Governor. The audit report shall be submitted to the Legislature in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

SEC. 13.

 Section 1759 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

1759.
 (a) No court of this state, except the Supreme Court and the court of appeal, to the extent specified in this article, shall have jurisdiction to review, reverse, correct, or annul any order or decision of the commission or to suspend or delay the execution or operation thereof, or to enjoin, restrain, or interfere with the commission in the performance of its official duties, as provided by law and the rules of court.
(b) The writ of mandamus shall lie from the Supreme Court and from the court of appeal to the commission in all proper cases as prescribed in Section 1085 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(c) This section does not apply to an action arising from the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code). An action arising from the California Public Records Act may be brought in the superior court.

SEC. 14.

 Section 8331 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

8331.
 The commission shall advocate before the relevant federal entities, including the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, for expedited relocation of identification of an independent offsite spent fuel storage installation for any spent fuel stored at nuclear powerplants in this state to an independent, offsite spent fuel storage installation. state.