State Senator Looking at Breaking Up Utilities Following Potential Ties to Deadly Fires

VENTURA, CA - DECEMBER 5: A home is destroyed by brush fire as Santa Ana winds help propel the flames to move quickly through the landscape on December 5, 2017 in Ventura, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

State Sen. Jerry Hill tells KQED that he is looking into legislation that would break up the state’s investor-owned utilities or make them public following reports that Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison equipment may have been connected to the Camp and Woolsey fires burning at either end of the state.

“I’m very concerned about what we’ve learned so far regarding the fires of this year,” Hill said, referring to reports filed by PG&E and Edison to state regulators about incidents at their facilities that occurred around the same time that these deadly and destructive fires began.

On Thursday, PG&E told the California Public Utilities Commission that there was an outage on its 115-kilovolt Caribou-Palermo line at 6:15 a.m. Thursday. Cal Fire says the blaze started at 6:29 a.m.

It’s not clear from the report whether the damage occurred before or after the fire began, and a company spokesman did not address that question. But the location identified in the report appears to be very close to the spot where firefighters first encountered the blaze. …

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New Bill Calls for Cops to Track Weapons

As reported by the Orange County Register:

A state bill introduced Monday would require California law enforcement agencies to keep track of their guns and establish a reporting procedure for when police lose them.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said he introduced the legislation in response to investigations published this year by the Orange County Register and Bay Area News Group revealing that many law enforcement agencies make little or no effort to inventory their weapons and that officers frequently lose their firearms – some of which end up on the street.

“The guns…fall into the hands of criminals,” Hill said. “The public will be protected much better when we account for law enforcement guns.”

The stories on lost police guns noted that there are no state or federal laws requiring police agencies to account for their weapons and few agencies voluntarily do so.

The Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System attempts to act as a national registry for law enforcement weapons, but agencies are not required to report when a registered gun is lost or stolen. Also, officers don’t have to register their privately-owned guns even if they frequently carry them in the line of duty. …

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