California Lawmakers Use Secretive Process To Kill Would-Be Laws: ‘Where Good Bills Go To Die’

By Andrew Sheeler, Lindsey Holden, and Stephen Hobbs, SACRAMENTO BEE - CAPITOL ALERT

August 16, 2022

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article26…

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, went into the last month of California’s legislative session somewhat hopeful about prospects for his biggest bill.

The Observer: Proposed Law Requiring Oil Refiners To Disclose Profits Is Only First Step

Opinion Column by Jim Shields, THE WILLITS NEWS

July 2, 2022

https://www.willitsnews.com/2022/07/02/the-observer-proposed-law-requir…

As I reported to you last month, there’s a proposed law that would require oil refiners to disclose their per gallon profits on a monthly basis. The bill recently already passed out of the California Senate by a vote of 22-4.

California State Senator Pushes For New Bill Requiring Oil Refineries To Disclose Profits

By Tom Wait, KCBS TV-2 Los Angeles, CA

June 28, 2022

https://www.cbsnews.com/losangeles/news/california-state-senator-pushes…

With oil companies raking in record profits, one state senator is pushing a new law that would require refiners to disclose how much they make on every gallon of gas they sell. 

KCBS TV-2 Los Angeles, CA: Legislation To Force Big Oil To Open Their Books Passes CA Legislature

Legislation Requiring Oil Refiners To Disclose Profits Per Gallon Monthly Clears CA Assembly Natural Resources Committee

Los Angeles, CA - A bill requiring oil refiners to disclose their per gallon profits monthly passed out of the California Assembly Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 8 - 3. The legislation has already passed out of the California Senate by a vote of 22 - 4.

California Senate Committees Pass Good Government Bills To Close Agency Lobbying Loophole and Bar Destruction of Records

Los Angeles, CA - Today, the California State Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill 11-0 that would require agencies to retain all public records for a minimum of two years. Yesterday, the Senate Elections Committee voted 4-0 to close a loophole in state law that allowed former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to influence decision-making at the Department of Insurance without registering as a lobbyist. 
 

58 California Legislators Have Taken Over $10,000 In 'Dirty Donations'

By Dan Bacher, INDYBAY

June 12, 2022

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/06/12/18850413.php

A May 2022 update to its Tracking the Dirty Dollars Project by Sierra Club California provides some clarity why California’s environmental policies don't live up to the “green” words of the state’s politicians. This update reveals that only 15 legislators have not received campaign contributions from polluters and their allies since January 1, 2021.

California Assembly Passes Good Government Bills To Close Agency Lobbying Loophole and Bar Destruction of Records

Los Angeles, CA - Today, the California State Assembly passed a bill 65-0 that would close a loophole in state law that allowed Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to influence decision-making at the Department of Insurance without registering as a lobbyist.  On Monday, the Assembly voted 73-0 to pass another bill to require agencies to retain all public records for a minimum of two years.
 

Bill Requiring Refiners To Disclose Monthly Profits Passes Out OF California Senate

By Ian Taylor, BUNKERSPOT

May 25, 2022

https://www.bunkerspot.com/americas/56310-americas-bill-requiring-refin…

SB 1322 (Allen) – a bill that would require oil refiners to disclose their profits on a monthly basis – has passed out of the California Senate by a vote of 22 to 4 and will now be heard in the California Assembly.

California Gets New Rules Covering Medical Malpractice Payments. Here’s What Will Change

By Melody Gutierrez, LOS ANGELES TIMES

May 23, 2022

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-23/california-new-rule…

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Monday to raise the amount of money that patients can receive in medical malpractice cases, increasing pain and suffering payments for the first time since lawmakers placed a cap on monetary damages nearly five decades ago. 

California To Raise Medical Malpractice Caps After 47 Years

By Victoria Colliver, POLITICO PRO

May 23, 2022

Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a bill to update California's medical malpractice damage cap, ending a long-fought battle to adjust the pain-and-suffering limit that has remained unchanged for 47 years.

"After decades on negotiations, legislators, patient groups, and medical professionals have reached a consensus that protects patients and the stability of our health care system," Newsom said in a statement following the bill's signing, which was not public. 

KNX 1070 AM Los Angeles, CA: Consumer Advocates Applaud Newsom Signing Bill Raising Medical Malpractice Damages Cap in California

By Emily Valdez, KNX 1070 AM Los Angeles, CA

May 22, 2022

Click here to listen to the audio of this radio broadcast segment. 

Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog, applauding Governor Newsom signing AB 35 which will raise the medical malpractice damages cap in California. 

Advocates and Victims' Families Look Forward To Gov. Newsom Signing Med Mal Cap Reform Bill

By Staff Reports, KCRW 89.9FM Santa Monica, CA

May 19, 2022

Click here to listen to the audio of this radio news broadcast segment.

Advocates and victims' families look forward to Governor Newsom signing AB 35 into law to raise the cap on medical malpractice damages in California after nearly 50 years. 

KCBS 740AM San Francisco, CA: Consumer Advocates and Victims' Families Approve of Raising of Med Mal Cap

By Staff Reports, KCBS 740AM San Francisco, CA

May 18, 2022

Click here to listen to the audio of this radio broadcast segment.

Consumer Advocates and victims' families approve of the passage of AB 35 which will raise the cap on medical malpractice damages for the first time in nearly 50 years. 

California Focus: Doubt Removed; Oil Refiners Gouging Us

Column by Tom Elias, CHICO ENTERRISE-RECORD

May 17, 2022

https://www.chicoer.com/2022/05/17/doubt-removed-oil-refiners-gouging-u…

There was some room for doubt back in February, when gasoline prices rose precipitously: Until the oil companies who refine most California gas unveiled their first-quarter profits, it would be impossible to be sure the spike stemmed from price gouging.

California Lawmakers Raise Awards For Malpractice Lawsuits

By Adam Beam, ASSOCIATED PRESS

May 13, 2022

https://apnews.com/article/health-lawsuits-california-legislature-gavin…

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Legislature on Thursday agreed to increase how much money people can win in medical malpractice lawsuits, resolving one of the thorniest disputes in state politics by raising a cap on damages for the first time in 47 years.

Column: Everyone Wins In Compromise To Increase Malpractice Payouts — Especially Victims

Column by George Skelton, LOS ANGELES TIMES

May 9, 2022

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-09/skelton-malpractice…

SACRAMENTO — It’s being called the Sacramento equivalent of the Berlin Wall falling. Or a Middle East peace pact.

Long-warring enemies have suddenly negotiated a historic compromise over how much money medical malpractice victims can be awarded for pain and suffering.

Sacramento Reaches MICRA Deal

By Victoria Colliver, POLITICO PRO

April 27, 2022

California’s nearly 50-year-old medical malpractice compensation limits may soon be increased as part of a deal announced Wednesday that could end a decadeslong fight that’s pitted doctors and insurance companies against patients and families seeking justice in the courtroom for wrongful injuries or deaths.

Patients Embrace Legislative Deal to Update Malpractice Cap, Forestall Ballot Fight on Fairness for Injured Patients Act in November

Los Angeles, CA - The California families harmed by medical negligence who launched the Patients for Fairness coalition (http://www.patientsforfairness.org) responded favorably to news of a potential legislative deal to raise the 47 year old cap on medical malpractice damages. The families said the legislation would eliminate the need for the Fairness for Injured Patients Act to go before voters in November 2022.

California’s Malpractice Payouts Would Rise Under A Deal To Avoid A Costly Ballot Fight

By Melody Gutierrez, LOS ANGELES TIMES

April 27, 2022

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-04-27/california-malpract…

SACRAMENTO — Cash payments in California medical malpractice cases would go up for the first time in nearly five decades under a deal between rival interest groups announced Wednesday that avoids a costly battle at the ballot box in November. 

Legislation Requiring CA Oil Refiners To Disclose Their Profits Per Gallon Moves Forward

Los Angeles, CA -- With gas prices sky-high, legislation requiring California oil refiners to disclose once a month the price they pay for crude oil and the profit margins they make on the gasoline they refine and sell moved out of the California Senate Energy Committee last night on a vote of 8 to 0.

Department of Insurance Ethics Legislation Blocked By Assembly Insurance Committee Today Without A Vote; Committee Members Collected $1.5 Million In Insurance Campaign Cash

Sacramento, CA – Ethics legislation to shine a light on insurance industry influence over decision-making at the Department of Insurance was killed by the Assembly Insurance Committee today when members refused to give the bill a vote.
 
AB 2323 (Levine) would have required the Insurance Commissioner and top-level appointees to publicly disclose meetings and communications with the insurance industry and others seeking to influence Department actions within seven days, and post these reports on the Department website quarterly. 
 

California Assembly Stops Bottle Deposit Bill Fix For 2021 As Redemption Rate Drops to 56%

Los Angeles, CA—The California Assembly refused to act on a budget proposal put forth by the Senate to shore up Californian’s collapsing bottle deposit system and to offer consumers convenient ways to return bottles and cans for deposit. The refusal comes as CalRecycle, the state’s regulator, reported the latest redemption rate—the rate at which consumer receive their CRV deposits back—fell to 56% for the month of June.
 

Consumer Watchdog Urges Legislative Leaders To Reject Last Minute Raid By Waste Haulers On Consumer Bottle Deposit Funds

Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog urged Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to shut down a last-minute attempt by waste haulers, grocers and recyclers to steal consumers’ bottle deposit refunds and make the system less available to them, the group said.

Insurance Commissioner to Investigate Key Wildfire Insurance Issues Under Legislation Headed to Senate Floor

Sacramento, CA -- California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara would investigate and develop solutions to ensure affordable, accessible insurance for homeowners in wildfire areas and report back to the legislature, under amendments to AB 2167 adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday. The bill asks the Commissioner to study the models insurance companies use to set home and renters insurance rates, strategies to address problems in the insurance markets, and the price and pass-through of “reinsurance” expenses. The bill now heads for a vote by the full Senate.

California Bill Addressing Property Rates in Wildfire-Prone Areas Awaits Hearing

By Don Jergler, INSURANCE JOURNAL

August 11, 2020

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2020/08/11/578753.htm

The stage has been set for a major battle over a California bill due to be heard in the next few weeks in a key committee that opponents say is a direct attack on insurance consumer protections and proponents say is the best way to make insurance more available in an increasingly wildfire-prone state.

California State Legislators Use Coronavirus As An Excuse To Hijack Democratic Process

The following was originally published as an op-ed commentary in the SACRAMENTO BEE on August 11, 2020: https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/article244870462.html

Three democratic procedures safeguard Californians against hasty and dangerous actions by the California State Legislature:

▪ Every bill gets a legislative hearing.

▪ Committee staff provides an impartial analysis of each bill.

▪ Members of the public are heard. 

Insurance Industry Gives CA Senators $2.35 Million To Win Right To Raise Homeowners' Rates

Sacramento, CA – Members of the California State Senate have taken $2,353,000 in campaign contributions from insurance companies and insurance industry trade associations in the last two election cycles, according to data reported to the California Secretary of State. Of that total, $1.1 million was given to the thirteen Senators who sit on the Insurance Committee that will soon vote on the insurance industry’s top priority in Sacramento this year.

Sneak Insurance Industry Power Play In Sacramento Threatens To Jack Up Home Insurance Rates In Violation of Voter-Enacted Insurance Rate Regulation

Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog warned today that homeowners could pay billions more for their home insurance under a sneak insurance industry legislative attack on California’s effective rate regulation under the cover of the corona virus and police abuse crises.

Assembly Insurance Committee Approves Bills to Let Insurers Raise Homeowners' Rates By Skirting Price-Gouging Protections

Sacramento, CA –  The Assembly Insurance Committee voted today to allow insurance companies to raise rates on homeowners and renters in violation of voter-approved Proposition 103.  The bills would force unjustified insurance rate hikes onhomeowners in the very communities devastated by wildfires that they purport to help, said Consumer Watchdog.

Insurance Industry Pushes Legislation to Increase Homeowners Insurance Rates, Derail Public Protections Against Price Gouging, in Guise of Wildfire Response

Los Angeles, CA — While the rest of the state is sheltering at home, lobbyists for the insurance industry are busy promoting legislation, scheduled for a hearing tomorrow, that would allow them to boost insurance rates on homeowners and renters.

Insurance Lobbyists Launch Propaganda Campaign to Protect Their Ability To Overcharge Poor & Minority Drivers

Sacramento, CA -- The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) has launched a deceptive website, at www.protectourdiscounts.org, and advertising campaign to protect insurers’ ability to continue overcharging lower income and minority drivers for their auto insurance.

Bill Requiring Beverage Makers To Handle Recycling Dies

By Don Thompson, AP - THE SANTA ROSA PRESS-DEMOCRAT

January 30, 2020

https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10652542-181/bill-requiring-beverage…

SACRAMENTO — A California state senator on Thursday ended his effort to pass a bill requiring beverage distributors to create a new system to take back their own containers, though advocates said they will keep pushing the issue this year.

Wine & Beverage Industry Stops Bill To Overhaul and Expand Bottle Deposit System On Senate Floor

Los Angeles, CA — A major reform bill to fix California’s broken bottle deposit system and get consumers back hundreds of millions in unredeemed deposits failed in the California Senate today after the wine and liquor industry joined with the beverage industry to unleash their lobbyists against the proposal.  The bill is now on the inactive file after failing on the floor last night with 17 votes in favor.

Consumer Watchdog on the New Bill SB372 and the Collapse of CA's Bottle Redemption System

Consumer Watchdog Urges Overhaul of CA’s Recycling Program Via New Bill SB372

Consumer Watchdog Ranks CA's Bottle Deposit System Worst in Nation, SB372 Reaches Senate

Bill To Overhaul Bottle Deposit System Passes Out Of Senate Committee

Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court said in testimony today before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on bottle deposit reform legislation, SB 372, that it is time for the beverage industry to take responsibility for recycling the empties that their beverages leave behind, as is done in all other successful bottle deposit programs here and around the world.

Central Coast Winemakers React To New CA Bill Proposing Industry-Run Bottle Recycling Program

By Anikka Abbott, KCOY CBS TV-12 /KEYT ABC TV-7 / KKFX FOX TV-11 Santa Barbara, CA

January 15, 2020

https://keyt.com/lifestyle/food/2020/01/15/central-coast-winemakers-rea…

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Senate Bill 372, The Beverage Container Recycling Act of 2020, passed the state senate Environmental Quality Committee Wednesday.

Consumer Watchdog on the Need to Overhaul CA's Failed Recycling Program

Press Conference on Consumer Watchdog’s new report “Trashed” and the Failures of CA’s Bottle Deposit System

Consumer Watchdog Warns Of Bottle Deposit System Collapse Without Major Reform

Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog reported today that a major overhaul of the state’s once-vaunted bottle deposit system is needed to make drink makers responsible for refunding deposits or consumers will continue to lose a greater share of the roughly $1.5 billion a year they pay in nickel and dime deposits. Redemption centers that redeem bottle and can deposits are closing in the face of economic hardship.

Watchdog, Legislator Offer Plans To Overhaul California’s Recycling Program

By Kevin Smith, LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS

January 14, 2020

https://www.dailynews.com/2020/01/14/watchdog-legislator-offer-plans-to…

California lawmakers will consider legislation Wednesday, Jan. 15 to revamp the state’s struggling recycling program for bottles and cans — a program Consumer Watchdog fears may collapse unless significant changes are made.

Medical Negligence Survivors Launch Nov 2020 Ballot Measure Signature Drive For Proposal To Raise 1975 Compensation Cap That Was Never Adjusted

Sacramento, CA -- Medical negligence survivors and advocates for a proposed ballot measure launched a petition signature drive for the Fairness for Injured Patients Act (FIPA), which will adjust the compensation cap imposed on injured patients by Sacramento politicians in 1975 that has never been adjusted.   

Juries are not told of the cap and injured patients cannot receive more than $250,000 for their quality of life and wrongful-death survivor damages, no matter how serious the injury or severe the medical negligence.

CA Leg Compromise Gets $10 Million More For Recycling Centers, Small Exemption for Grocers

Sacramento, CA — Amendments to AB 54 (Ting) last night freed $5 million for beleaguered consumer recycling centers, seeming to seal what appears to be a short-term band-aid for recycling center problems until a larger solution is developed next year.  AB 54 already provided $5 million for mobile recycling and a short few months exemption for grocers affected by August recycling center closures that would otherwise have to redeem bottle and can deposits earlier.

Grocers Launch Last-Week-Of-Session Attack on Bottle Deposit Law

Seek Exemption From Recycling Responsibilities As Consumers Turn To Stores For Deposits

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today condemned eleventh-hour legislation by Senator Steve Glazer, SB 643, that would exempt thousands of grocery stores statewide from the obligation to recycle consumers’ bottles and cans and return their five and ten cent deposits. The bill was amended Saturday to be heard during the last five days of the legislative session.

Consumer Watchdog: Victims, Taxpayers and Ratepayers Shouldn’t Be Forced To Pay For Felon’s Negligence Under PG&E Bailout Plan

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog said today that a California wildfire victims’ relief fund could be important, but that the proposal put forth today by Governor Newsom, in legislative hands, threatens to take rights and dollars from wildfire victims, ratepayers and taxpayers without forcing PG&E to make tangible concessions.

Maui Utilities’ Junket While Paradise Burned Should Spark New Rules For Real-time Disclosure of Lawmaker Trips

Los Angeles, CA -- In a letter to California’s legislative leaders, Consumer Watchdog today wrote that the shocking details of a utility junket in Maui with 12 state lawmakers while wildfires destroyed the state  should compel new immediate online disclosures about such trips.

Consumer Advocates Thank Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins For Standing Up to Energy Barons To Protect Consumers And The Environment

Los Angeles, CA —  On the last night of the California legislative session, Senate pro Tem Toni Atkins stood up to political and industry pressure and stopped passage of legislation that would have threatened consumers with electricity price manipulation and the invalidation of state environmental laws, according to leading public interest groups.

Consumer Watchdog Heralds Landmark CA Consumer Privacy Reform

LOS ANGELES, CA –Consumer Watchdog said today that the new privacy law passed today in California is a landmark reform and should be a bellwether for America.

"Today, Californians won the right to control their private information and to hold companies accountable for data breaches with stiff financial penalties," said Jamie Court. "This landmark reform should spread to all of America and be implemented for all Americans just as it has been for Californians. 

Ca. Senate Bucks Medical Lobby & Passes Bill to Lift Veil of Secrecy About Physician Sexual Assault & Other Doctor Misconduct Causing Patient Harm

Sacramento, CA – The California State Senate rejected secrecy about physician sexual assault and other doctor misconduct today when it voted 28-3 to support SB 1448 by Senator Jerry Hill (San Mateo) to require physicians disclose to their patients when they are on probation for causing patient harm.

Speed Not Safety Is California Senate’s Concern In Robot Car Hearing

The California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee’s hearing this week, “Autonomous Vehicles: Opportunities and Challenges,” was meant to be an opportunity to field questions and concerns representing both public and private interests about putting self-driving cars on the road. Instead, the Senate committee’s investment in protecting corporate interests ultimately outweighed senators’ concern for the public. 

Senate Completes Creation of “Brown Utility Commission,” Neutering PUC Independence

Santa Monica, CA — The California Senate completed Governor Jerry Brown’s consolidation of the California Public Utility Commission in the hands of three of his closest former aides and two of his former appointees, guaranteeing half a decade of influence by the utility-friendly Governor long after he leaves office, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Legislature Pulls Brown’s Electric Deregulation Plan Ramrod After Public Backlash

Sacramento, CA – A public backlash against Governor Brown’s eleventh hour attempt to give Western energy barons and Trump officials power over California’s energy and the state’s laws has ended for the year.

Assembly Member Chris Holden has stated his last-minute bills will not go forward after activists and newspaper editorial boards condemned the backroom dealing and ramrod of complex proposals with only days left in the legislative session.

Watchdog Warns Gov. Brown’s 11th Hour Western Grid Proposal Will Let Trump Gut CA Laws

Sacramento, CA – Consumer Watchdog today wrote the California Senate that a proposal backed by Governor Brown for a regional electricity market would allow Donald Trump’s appointees to invalidate California ratepayer and environmental protection laws.

The last-minute legislation has the backing of some of the same corporate environmentalist groups and unions that backed electricity deregulation in the late 1990s and in fact reauthorizes a law first passed during California’s deregulation debacle to create a Western trading market.