SB 888 Narrowly Approved in Senate

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, June 6, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Senator Joseph Dunn's (D-Santa Ana) electricity re-regulation bill got out of the Senate with no votes to spare. SB 888 received 21 votes the bare minimum and less than a ringing endorsement from several Senators who spoke before the floor vote.

What's more, the bill was amended the day before the floor vote and made into an "intent" bill with the operative provisions stripped out. According to Dunn, the bill's operative provisions (provisions that have the force of law and actually do something beyond stating the Legislature's intent) will be put back into the bill on the Assembly side.

The decision to make SB 888 an intent bill, even if it is only a temporary move, is a clear sign that the bill faces an uncertain future. At a minimum, it shows that support for the measure in the Senate is lukewarm. According to reliable sources, Dunn presented his bill to Senate Democrats in a closed-door meeting the day before the vote where it soon became apparent he didn't have the necessary votes, thus necessitating the amendments to make it an "intent" bill. During the floor debate the next day, several Senators voiced serious reservations about the bill, and explained that they were voting for it to "move it along" in the legislative process.

Among other things, the bill seeks to establish a "core-noncore" system but effectively kills direct access (DA) by prohibiting a cap on the DA customer responsibility surcharge (CRS) with language providing for "full recovery" of the DA CRS "on a schedule comparable to the recovery of comparable costs from core customers." This would invalidate the current CRS cap in which the DA cost obligation is spread over future periods to avoid rate shock for DA customers. The CRS cap is aimed at preserving the viability of DA.
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