BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 1315
                                                                  Page  1

          AB 1315 (Ruskin)
          As Amended May 5, 2009
          Majority vote 

           UTILITIES & COMMERCE          10-4                   
          APPROPRIATIONS      11-4                            
          |Ayes:|Fuentes, Blakeslee,       |Ayes:|De Leon, Ammiano, Charles    |
          |     |Carter, Fong, Furutani,   |     |Calderon, Davis, Fuentes,    |
          |     |Huffman, Krekorian,       |     |Hall, John A. Perez, Price,  |
          |     |Skinner, Swanson, Torrico |     |Skinner, Solorio, Torlakson  |
          |     |                          |     |                             |
          |Nays:|Duvall, Tom Berryhill,    |Nays:|Nielsen, Duvall, Harkey,     |
          |     |Fuller, Smyth             |     |Audra Strickland             |
          |     |                          |     |                             |

           SUMMARY  :  Requires the commissioners of the California Public  
          Utilities Commission (PUC) to designate a president of the  
          commission from among the members of the commission, instead of  
          the Governor appointing a president.  Also requires the  
          commissioners to select and direct the PUC's attorney and  
          executive director, instead of the president.  Specifically,  
           this bill  :

          1)Requires the commission to designate a president of the  
            commission from among the members of the commission.

          2)Provides that the commission may appoint an attorney and an  
            executive director and direct the actions of the attorney,  
            executive director.

          3)Deletes the provision that the president may direct the  
            attorney, the executive director, and other staff of the  
            commission, with the exception of Division of Ratepayer  
            Advocate staff.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Negligible fiscal impact.

           COMMENTS :   Prior to 1998, the president of PUC was selected by  
          its members.  The commissioners appointed the attorney and  


                                                                  AB 1315
                                                                  Page  2

          executive director, who performed at the direction of the  
          commission as a body.  

          PUC has historically been granted broad latitude to set its own  
          procedures.  Any review of PUC decisions has historically been  
          limited to review only by the Supreme Court.  Some had viewed  
          PUC's independence as less of a virtue and more of a vice.   
          Rather than independent, PUC had been seen to lack  
          accountability.  SB 33 (Peace) Chapter 509, Statutes of 1999,  
          attempted to address this perceived lack of accountability by  
          the commissioners.  It centralized the functioning of PUC with  
          its president by putting PUC's executive director and attorney  
          directly under the control of the president.  It also made the  
          president more directly accountable to the Governor because the  
          Governor would appoint the president. 

          There is concern that by having the Governor appoint the  
          president, and not having the commissioners select their own  
          president, this designation has resulted in a lack of  
          collegiality and the unintended creation of a "super  
          commissioner."  The Governor can re-appoint that same  
          commissioner as president each term, and that president by  
          statute directs the policies and executive director, the  
          attorney, and the over 1,000 staff.  The remaining commissioners  
          can become less significant, especially when the will of  
          individual commissioners differs from the will of the president.  

          The previous commissions were not accountable enough, the more  
          recent commission is way too accountable, but only to the  
          Governor.  Because the State Constitution provides the  
          Legislature with "plenary power" to confer authority and  
          jurisdiction upon PUC, AB 1315 is an attempt to find the "just  
          right" solution.  

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Gina Adams / U. & C. / (916) 319-2083 

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