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SB-199 Public Utilities Commission: Office of the Safety Advocate.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 09/14/2019 04:00 AM
SB199:v96#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  September 13, 2019
Passed  IN  Senate  September 11, 2019
Passed  IN  Assembly  September 09, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  September 05, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  April 08, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 199


Introduced by Senator Hill

January 31, 2019


An act to amend Section 309.8 of, and to add Sections 309.9 and 911.5 to, the Public Utilities Code, relating to the Public Utilities Commission.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 199, Hill. Public Utilities Commission: Office of the Safety Advocate.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, gas corporations, and water corporations. Existing law requires the commission to appoint an executive director who is responsible for the commission’s executive and administrative duties and is required to organize, coordinate, supervise, and direct the operations and affairs of the commission and expedite all matters within the commission’s jurisdiction. Existing law establishes the Office of the Safety Advocate within the commission, until January 1, 2020, to advocate for the continuous, cost-effective improvement of the safety management and safety performance of public utilities. Existing law requires the office to undertake specific actions, including that it recommend improvements to the commission’s safety management policy and procedures and the commission’s safety culture.
This bill would extend the operation of the Office of the Safety Advocate until January 1, 2025, and would require the office to conduct safety trainings for commission staff, as specified. The bill would move from the office to the commission the requirement to recommend improvements to the commission’s safety management policy and procedures and its safety culture, would require those recommendations to be made annually, as specified, and would require the executive director to report the commission’s findings and recommendations to a subcommittee of the commission. The bill would authorize the commission to contract with an independent entity to audit the effectiveness of the commission’s safety performance.
Existing law requires the commission to report on various subjects to the Legislature.
This bill would require the commission to annually report to the chairperson of the appropriate policy committee of each house of the Legislature on the actions taken by the commission in response to recommended improvements to the commission’s safety management policy and procedures and its safety culture, and on the impact of commission safety trainings, with appropriate assessments, surveys, and interviews of staff pertaining to their understanding and implementation of the commission’s safety management system and safety culture. The bill would require the office, by February 1 of each year, to provide to the appropriate policy committee of each house of the Legislature information on the actions taken by the office to recommend improvements to public utility safety management policy and procedures and safety culture, and information on proceedings in which the office participated and a brief description of the testimony it filed.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 309.8 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

309.8.
 (a) There is hereby established within the commission the Office of the Safety Advocate to advocate for the continuous, cost-effective improvement of the safety management and safety performance of public utilities.
(b) The office shall promote public utility safety by doing all of the following:
(1) Advocating, as a party to commission proceedings and on behalf of the interests of public utility customers, for effective public utility safety management and infrastructure improvements and for the transparency of safety information, including, but not limited to, information relating to past performance.
(2) Informing the official record on safety-related risks in applicable commission proceedings and assisting the commission in its efforts to hold public utilities accountable for their safe operation.
(3) Conducting safety trainings for commission staff to bolster the safety management policies and safety culture at the commission.
(c) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 2.

 Section 309.9 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

309.9.
 (a) The commission shall annually recommend improvements to its safety management policy and procedures and its safety culture, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Improvements to overhaul and reform commission procedures to implement safety-related initiatives and requirements more efficiently.
(2) Improvements based upon gap analysis of the commission’s safety structure and programs against a safety management system framework in order to assess the existence and maturity of existing safety elements.
(3) Improvements based upon evaluation of high-risk industry models to compare against the commission’s safety structure and processes.
(4) Improvements based upon assessing the impact and retention of commission staff safety trainings and making recommendations to improve such trainings.
(b) The executive director shall report the commission’s findings and recommendations pursuant to subdivision (a) directly to a subcommittee of the commission.
(c) The commission may contract with an independent entity to audit the effectiveness of the commission’s safety performance pursuant to this section. The hiring of an independent entity shall not relieve commissioners nor managers from responsibility for safety. It is the intent of the Legislature that the requirements of this section provide accountability for the commission’s safety management system and safety culture. It is the further intent of the Legislature that safety knowledge and accountability are to be shared throughout the commission.

SEC. 3.

 Section 911.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

911.5.
 (a) The commission shall annually provide the following information to the chairperson of the appropriate policy committee of each house of the Legislature:
(1) The actions taken by the commission in response to recommended improvements to the commission’s safety management policy and procedures and its safety culture made pursuant to Section 309.9.
(2) The impact of commission safety trainings, with appropriate assessments, surveys, and interviews of staff pertaining to their understanding and implementation of the commission’s safety management system and safety culture.
(b) On or before February 1 of each year, the Office of the Safety Advocate shall provide the following information to the appropriate policy committee of each house of the Legislature:
(1) The actions taken by the office to recommend improvements to public utility safety management policy and procedures and safety culture.
(2) The proceedings in which the office participated and a brief description of the testimony it filed.