Sixteen new laws written by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, take effect Jan. 1 including measures to enhance wildfire safety, protect the elderly, promote new housing and improve transportation. No other legislator had more bills signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019.
“We made real strides this year to address pressing issues and improve the lives of Californians,” Sen. Dodd said. “There is still much work to be done as we restructure a troubled utility, make power safe and reliable, and ensure our past directives are carried out. I look forward to building on our progress in 2020.”
Among the new laws from Sen. Dodd are five measures to prevent and respond to the state’s growing wildfire threat. Senate Bill 167 helps low-income people on life-support equipment to receive backup power during shutoffs from Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities. SB 190 assists in wildfire prevention and response by increasing compliance with requirements for vegetation buffer zones. SB 209 establishes the Wildfire Forecast and Threat Intelligence Integration Center, a statewide network of automated weather monitoring stations to aid in wildfire prevention and response. SB 247 requires an independent third-party to oversee the clearing of vegetation from utility lines owned by PG&E – the cause of numerous deadly fires. And SB 314 enhances penalties for caregivers who abandon the elderly in a disaster such as a wildfire.
Other bills help local government. Among them, SB 20, allows Napa County to negotiate for the purchase of Skyline Wilderness Park. SB 137 streamlines transportation project funding requests, and SB 235 allows the city of Napa and the county to collaborate on housing solutions.
SB 19 creates a statewide monitoring system for protecting waterways; SB 173 responds to college student food insecurity by streamlining the process for students to receive food stamps and SB 442 promotes university research and innovation involving state parks. SB 469 allows California Horse Racing Board to immediately halt racing at tracks where dangerous conditions exist. It became effective earlier this year.