2018 California Lawmakers Announce Bold Legislation to Address Wildfire Prevention and Resiliency
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2018
Contact: David Liebler, Director of Public Affairs & Member
916-327-7500, ext. 530
SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers took a bold step forward tonight when the Joint Conference Committee on Wildfire Preparedness and Response unanimously approved legislation to address the state’s wildfire risk and prevention policies.
The bipartisan legislation, SB 901, includes key measures to move California toward better wildfire preparedness, response and resiliency. The proposed bill includes language to address a wide range of factors that contribute to California’s extreme fire threat, including requirements to improve forestry management, firefighting aid, and regulations to ensure that investor-owned utilities comply with safety standards.
CSAC, along with a broad coalition of stakeholders and local government associations, supports the hard work of the Conference Committee to compromise and come together on SB 901. County leaders now urge the full Legislature to focus on the positive policy changes contained in the bill that will increase resiliency and safety requirements.
“This legislation makes significant progress toward minimizing the risk of future wildfires in California. SB 901 provides a solution that protects victims, enhances the safety of our communities, and ensures stability for utilities and ratepayers. It’s a prime example of what can be accomplished when we work together to find solutions to the major issues facing our state,” stated Graham Knaus, CSAC Executive Director. “We applaud the Conference Committee for crafting this comprehensive package and taking this bold step forward in wildfire prevention and safety.”
CSAC is urging the Legislature to pass SB 901 swiftly so the state can begin the critical work required to defend against future threats and improve wildfire safety and response efforts.
“We are also extremely pleased to see that the Committee did not change the current liability standard for wildfire damages,” Knaus said. CSAC was staunchly opposed to potential efforts to revise constitutional protections under the “inverse condemnation” laws and changes long-standing liability statutes related to the causes of wildfires.
Once any changes to wildfire liability law were off the negotiating table, parties were able to begin working together on other policy areas that will help prevent future wildfires through better forest management practices, while providing stability for utilities and ratepayers.
“No one wins if utility companies go bankrupt, but at the same time, we must protect our residents, ratepayers, local government services and our environment. SB 901 does just that,” Knaus said. “Massive wildfires still burn across California and there is no more urgent priority in California in 2018 than reducing the risk of future wildfires.”
The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) is the voice of California’s 58 counties at the state and federal level.