Three Dozen California Bills Focus on Wildfire, Others Are Concerning for Insurance Industry

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Three Dozen California Bills Focus on Wildfire, Others Are Concerning for Insurance Industry

Roughly three dozen pieces of California legislation are directly related to wildfire, and while those bills should hold much interest for the insurance community, there are other bills making their rounds that should draw a great deal of concern.

So far 2,369 bills have been introduced in state Legislature this year, according to John Norwood of Norwood Associates, an industry lobbyist who also represents the California Insurance Wholesalers Association.

Norwood said he’s by encouraged by all the attention California’s wildfires are getting.

“Rates and availability are not going to change until the reinsurance market thinks California has reduced the risk of wildfire,” Norwood said.

Several of those bills include mitigation incentives, penalties for failure to prevent fires, funding for fire prevention and firefighting, and a bill to prohibit cancellations in high wildfire risk areas.

John Norwood

Assembly Bill 155 would prohibit an insurer from canceling or refusing to renew a residential property insurance or commercial insurance policy based solely on the fact that the insured property is located in a high-risk wildfire area.

“It would hurt the availability of homeowners insurance in California,” Norwood warned.

However, that may not be the most worrisome bill of the bunch.

Assembly Bill 743 would create rebuttable presumptions affecting the burden of proof in a case in which it’s alleged that the business interruption was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and occurred during the period of the state of emergency declared by the governor due to the pandemic.

“This bill would bankrupt most of the industry,” Norwood said.

Norwood has put together a list of bills and summaries of what they would do that he has identified as being of interest to CIWA members and the insurance community as a whole:

AB 9 (Wood D) Wildfires.

Summary: Current law establishes various programs for the prevention and reduction of wildfires. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation that would increase California’s capacity to prevent and reduce the impact of wildfires, and would make related findings and declarations.

AB 20 (Lee D) Political Reform Act of 1974: campaign contributions: The Clean Money Act of 2021.

Summary: The Political Reform Act of 1974 imposes various limitations on contributions that may be made to, or accepted by, candidates for elective office. A violation of the act’s provisions is punishable as a misdemeanor and subject to specified penalties. This bill, the Clean Money Act of 2021, would prohibit a candidate for elective office from receiving a contribution from a business entity, and a business entity from making a contribution to a candidate for elective office, and would make related findings and declarations.

AB 21 (Bauer-Kahan D) Forestry: electrical transmission and distribution lines: clearance: penalties.

Summary: Current law requires a person that owns, controls, operates, or maintains any electrical transmission or distribution line upon any mountainous land or forest-covered land, brush-covered land, or grass-covered land to maintain around and adjacent to any pole or tower that supports a switch, fuse, transformer, lightning arrester, line junction, or dead-end or corner pole a firebreak, as specified. Current law requires a person that owns, controls, operates, or maintains any electrical transmission or distribution line upon any mountainous land or in forest-covered land, brush-covered land, or grass-covered land to maintain a clearance between all vegetation and all conductors that are carrying electric current, as specified. This bill would impose a civil penalty of up to $100,000 for each violation of the above-described provisions. The bill would impose an additional civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each acre burned by a fire resulting from a violation of the above-described provisions.

AB 52 (Frazier D) California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: scoping plan updates: wildfires.

Summary: The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 authorizes the State Air Resources Board to include in its regulation of emissions of greenhouse gases the use of market-based compliance mechanisms. Current law requires all moneys, except for fines and penalties, collected by the state board from a market-based compliance mechanism to be deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (fund) and to be available upon appropriation by the Legislature. Current law continuously appropriates 35% of the annual proceeds of the fund for transit, affordable housing, and sustainable communities programs and 25% of the annual proceeds of the fund for certain components of a specified high-speed rail project. This bill would require the state board, in each scoping plan update prepared by the state board after January 1, 2022, to include, consistent with the act, recommendations for achieving the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions of emissions of greenhouse gases and black carbon from wildfires.

AB 62 (Gray D) Income taxes: credits: costs to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

Summary: The Personal Income Tax Law and the Corporation Tax Law allow various credits against the taxes imposed by those laws. This bill would allow a credit against those taxes for each taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2021, to a qualified taxpayer, as defined, in an amount equal to the total amount paid or incurred during the taxable year by the qualified taxpayer to comply with the regulations adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on November 19, 2020, relating to COVID-19 prevention and approved by the Office of Administrative Law. The bill also would state the intent of the Legislature to comply with the additional information requirement for any bill authorizing a new income tax credit.

AB 73 (Rivas, Robert D) Employment safety: agricultural workers: wildfire smoke.

Summary: Would, among other things, require the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to designate a wildfire smoke strike team within each regional office for purposes of enforcing regulations regarding air quality safety for agricultural workers, as defined. The bill would require the division, by January 1, 2023, to establish a stockpile of N95 filtering facepiece respirators, as defined, of sufficient size to adequately equip all agricultural workers during wildfire smoke emergencies. The bill would require the department to establish guidelines for procurement, management, and distribution of the N95 respirators.

AB 267 (Valladares R) California Environmental Quality Act: exemption: prescribed fire, thinning, and fuel reduction projects.

Summary: Current law, until January 1, 2023, exempts from the requirements of CEQA prescribed fire, thinning, or fuel reduction projects undertaken on federal lands to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire that have been reviewed under the federal National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as provided. Current law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, beginning December 31, 2019, and annually thereafter until January 1, 2023, to report to the relevant policy committees of the Legislature the number of times the exemption was used. This bill would extend the exemption from CEQA and the requirement on the department to report to the relevant policy committees of the Legislature indefinitely.

AB 280 (Rivas, Robert D) Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans.

Summary: Under current law, the Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over electrical corporations. Current law requires each electrical corporation to annually prepare and submit a wildfire mitigation plan to the Wildfire Safety Division of the commission for review and approval. This bill would require each electrical corporation to also submit its wildfire mitigation plan to the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature.

AB 297 (Gallager R) Fire prevention.

Summary: Would continuously appropriate $480,000,000 and $20,000,000 to the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention and the California Conservation Corps, respectively, for fire prevention activities, as provided.

AB 373 (Seyarto R) Forest protection: Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Summary: Under current law, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in accordance with a plan approved by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, is required to carry out specified duties with respect to the prevention and control of forest fires.This bill would make nonsubstantive changes in that provision.

AB 380 (Seyarto R) Forestry: priority fuel reduction projects.

Summary: Under the authority provided pursuant to the California Emergency Services Act, the Governor, on March 22, 2019, issued a proclamation of a state of emergency directing the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to implement, without delay, fuel reduction projects identified using a methodology developed by the department to determine which communities are at greatest risk of wildfire based on best available science and socioeconomic factors and to identify projects that would reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, if completed. The proclamation of a state of emergency exempts those identified fuel reduction projects from various legal requirements, including, among others, requirements regarding public contracting for those projects, requirements for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act for those projects, and licensure requirements for individual conducting certain activities for those projects, as provided. This bill would require the department, before December 31, 2022, and before December 31 of each year thereafter, to identify priority fuel reduction projects, as provided.

AB 431 (Patterson R) Forestry: timber harvesting plans: defensible space: exemptions.

Summary: The Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 prohibits a person from conducting timber operations, as defined, unless a timber harvesting plan prepared by a registered professional forester has been submitted to, and approved by, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The act authorizes the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to exempt from some or all of those provisions of the act a person engaging in specified forest management activities, as prescribed, including, only until January 1, 2022, the cutting or removal of trees on the person’s property in compliance with specified defensible space requirements, as provided. This bill would extend to January 1, 2026, the board’s authorization to exempt a person engaging in the cutting or removal of trees on the person’s property in compliance with the specified defensible space requirements as provided.

AB 494 (Mayes I) Insurer audits.

Summary: Current law generally regulates the business of insurance in the state. Current law requires an insurer to have an annual audit by an independent certified public accountant, and authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to grant 30-day extensions for the filing of an audit report. This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to that provision.

AB 497 (Waldron R) Wildfire prevention.

Summary: Current law requires the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to classify all lands within the state, without regard to any classification of lands made by or for any federal agency or purpose, for the purpose of determining areas in which the financial responsibility of preventing and suppressing fires is primarily the responsibility of the state. This bill would provide that it is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would enact statutory changes relating to wildfire prevention.

AB 522 (Fong R) Forestry: Forest Fire Prevention Exemption.

Summary: The Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 prohibits a person from conducting timber operations, as defined, unless a timber harvesting plan prepared by a registered professional forester has been submitted to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The act authorizes the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to exempt from some or all of those provisions of the act a person engaging in specified forest management activities, as prescribed, including the harvesting of trees for the purpose of reducing the rate of fire spread, duration and intensity, fuel ignitability, or ignition of tree crowns, as provided, known as the Forest Fire Prevention Exemption. This bill would extend the operation of the Forest Fire Prevention Exemption indefinitely. The bill would delete the requirement that the tree harvesting area not exceed 300 acres and the requirement that temporary road construction or reconstruction be limited to no more than 2 miles of road per ownership in a planning watershed per any 5-year period.

AB 529 (Bauer-Kahan D) Electrical utilities: fire safety, prevention, or mitigation services: notice.

Summary: Would require each electrical corporation, local publicly owned electric utility, or electrical cooperative engaging in fire safety, prevention, or mitigation services in a high fire-risk area, as defined, to notify the fire protection district responsible for that area at least 48 hours before work is commenced, except when waiting to commence critical or emergency repairs in order to provide that notification would endanger public health or safety, as specified. The bill would require those electrical utilities to also provide the fire protection district with a copy of any form used to document any daily safety briefing at those worksites no later than 72 hours after the completion of that workday.

AB 575 (Fong R) Civil liability: prescribed burning activities: gross negligence.

Summary: Would provide that a private entity engaging in a prescribed burning activity that is supervised by a person certified as burn boss is liable for damages to a third party only if the prescribed burning activity was carried out in a grossly negligent manner.

AB 579 (Flora R) Fire prevention.

Summary: Current law establishes the California Conservation Camp program to provide for the training and use of the inmates and wards assigned to conservation camps in the furtherance of public conservation. Current law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to use inmates and wards assigned to conservation camps for fire prevention, fire control, and other work of the department. This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to those provisions.

AB 642 (Friedman D) Wildfires.

Summary: Would require the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to identify areas in the state as moderate and high fire hazard severity zones. The bill would additionally require the director classify areas into fire hazard severity zones based on additional factors including possible lightning caused ignition. The bill would require a local agency, within 30 days of receiving a transmittal from the director that identifies fire hazard severity zones, to make the information available for public comment.

AB 648 (Fong R) Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: healthy forest and fire prevention: appropriation.

Summary: Would continuously appropriate, beginning in the 2021–22 fiscal year and ending in the 2028–29 fiscal year, $200,000,000 of the annual proceeds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for (1) healthy forest and fire prevention programs and projects that improve forest health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by uncontrolled wildfires and (2) prescribed fire and other fuel reduction projects through proven forestry practices consistent with the recommendations of the California Forest Carbon Plan, including the operation of year-round prescribed fire crews and implementation of a research and monitoring program for climate

AB 697 (Chau D) Forest resources: national forest lands: Good Neighbor Authority Fund: ecological restoration and fire resiliency projects.

Summary: Would reorganize the law relating to the State Treasury the Good Neighbor Authority Fund. The bill would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, under an agreement between the state and the federal government, to establish a program for purposes of conducting ecological restoration and fire resiliency projects on national forest lands, with priority given to forest restoration and fuels reduction projects that are landscape scale, focused on ecological restoration and based on the best available science, emphasize the use of prescribed fire, and include community fire protection and protection of water infrastructure and other infrastructure as important goals, as provided.

AB 743 (Ramos D) Insurance: business interruption: coverage for COVID-19.

Summary: The California Emergency Services Act authorizes the Governor to declare a state of emergency during conditions of disaster or extreme peril to persons or property, including epidemics. Pursuant to this authority, on March 4, 2020, the Governor declared a state of emergency relating to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This bill, with respect to a policy of insurance that provides coverage for business interruption, would create specified rebuttable presumptions affecting the burden of proof in a case in which the insured alleges that the business interruption was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and occurred during the period of the state of emergency declared by the Governor due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the bill would create certain rebuttable presumptions that COVID-19 was present on specified property and caused physical loss or damage to that property which was the direct cause of the business interruption.

AB 792 (Flora R) Forestry: prescribed burning agreements.

Summary: Current law authorizes the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to enter into an agreement for prescribed burning or other hazardous fuel reduction for specified purposes, such as vegetation management and forest improvement. Current law requires an agreement that is entered into pursuant to that authorization to, among other requirements, provide that the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection be fully responsible for prescribed burns initiated at the department’s request, with the consent of the landowner, for training or other purposes on lands owned by a

AB 800 (Gabriel D) Wildfires: mitigation and prevention.

Summary: Current law establishes various programs for the prevention, detection, and mitigation of wildfires. Current law requires the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to classify lands within state responsibility areas into fire hazard severity zones and, by regulation, to designate fire hazard severity zones and assign each zone a rating reflecting the degree of severity of fire hazard that is expected to prevail in the zone.This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation to improve wildfire mitigation and prevention.

AB 981 (Frazier D) Forestry: California Fire Safe Council.

Summary: Would establish the California Fire Safe Council in the Natural Resources Agency consisting of 11 members, as specified. The bill would require the council to identify programs administered by public agencies to address and minimize the risks of wildfire and to coordinate the implementation of those programs, to identify public and private programs that may be leveraged to facilitate structure- hardening and community resilience to minimize the impacts of wildfire to habitable structures, to conduct public outreach effects to regional and local wildfire mitigation groups, and to recommend to the Legislature on how the programs identified by the council can be coordinated to increase the effectiveness of those programs.

AB 1141 (Frazier D) Wildfires: Wildland Urban Interface Fire Research Center.

Summary: Current law establishes various programs for the prevention, detection, and mitigation of wildfires. This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation that would develop and fund a Wildland Urban Interface Fire Research Center that specifically addresses the wildland urban interface fire problem and needs of wildfire prevention, detection, and mitigation planning, building, and response, and related economic, insurance, and modeling practices in the state.

AB 1142 (Frazier D) Fire prevention: detection and response.

Summary: Would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop and implement a program to predict and respond to wildfire ignition events and to provide for the sharing of information regarding wildfire events and coordination of activities among local, state, and federal agencies in response to wildfires.

AB 1255 (Bloom D) Fire prevention: Department of Forestry and Fire Protection: grant programs.

Summary: Would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in coordination with the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, to facilitate regional, habitat-specific, and area-specific approaches to fire risk reduction, prevention, and restoration of projects that improve community safety, protect sites and structures, restore burned habitat, reduce catastrophic wildfires, and protect natural resources. The bill would require the department to develop policies, funding programs for which the funding shall be contingent upon subsequent appropriation in the annual Budget Act or a similar statute for this purpose, and relevant program guidelines that promote specified objectives. The bill would require various state entities, as specified, to establish grant programs, for which funding shall be contingent upon subsequent appropriation, to fulfill the specified objectives.

AB 1295 (Muratsuchi D) Residential development agreements: very high risk fire areas.

Summary: Current law requires the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to identify areas in the state as very high fire hazard severity zones based on the severity of fire hazard that is expected to prevail in those areas, as specified, and requires each local agency to designate, by ordinance, the very high fire hazard severity zones in its jurisdiction. Current law additionally requires the director to classify lands within state responsibility areas into fire hazard severity zones. This bill, beginning on or after January 1, 2022, would prohibit the legislative body of a city or county from entering into a residential development agreement for property located in a very high fire risk area. The bill would define “very high fire risk area” for these purposes to mean a very high fire hazard severity zone designated by a local agency or a fire hazard severity zone classified by the director.

AB 1393 (Cooley D) Insurance: liability insurers.

Summary: Current law establishes the Department of Insurance, headed by the Insurance Commissioner, which regulates insurers and insurance practices. Current law provides that an insurer admitted to transact liability insurance is also deemed to be admitted to transact workers’ compensation insurance for the purpose of covering an employee, as defined. This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to that provision.

AB 1439 (Levine D) Residential property insurance discounts.

Summary: Would require a residential property insurance policy issued, amended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2022, to include a discount if a local government of the jurisdiction where the insured property is located funds a local wildfire protection or mitigation program. Because the bill would mandate discounts for specified residential property insurance policies, thus affecting the Insurance Commissioner’s consideration of a rate, the bill would amend Proposition 103.

AB 1454 (Bloom D) Forestry: burning of lands: wildland resources management program: model plans.

Summary: Current law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to prepare 2 model plans for the initial development and implementation of a program for wildland resources management through prescribed burning and other methods, as provided.This bill would make nonsubstantive changes to this law.

AB 1498 (Low D) Insurance: notice of policy cancellation, lapse, or termination.

Summary: Current law requires an insurer to comply with certain procedures relating to the cancellation, lapse, or termination of an insurance policy. Current law requires, with respect to specified insurance policies that cover loss of or damage to real property, loss of or damage to personal property, and legal liability of a natural person, a notice of cancellation for nonpayment of premiums to be given at least 10 calendar days prior to the effective date of the cancellation. This bill, with respect to a policy described above that provides insurance coverage in an amount of $100,000 or more, would require a notice of cancellation for nonpayment of premiums to be sent by certified mail to the named insured and to any other person designated by the named insured to receive that

AB 1500 (Garcia, Eduardo D) Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022.

Summary: Would enact the Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022, which, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $6,700,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance projects for safe drinking water, wildfire prevention, drought preparation, flood protection, extreme heat mitigation, and workforce development programs.

AB 1511 (Committee on Insurance) Insurance: public records.

Summary: Current law generally regulates insurance and creates the Department of Insurance, headed by the Insurance Commissioner. Current law requires all public records of the department and the commissioner that are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act to be available for inspection and copying, as specified, at the offices of the department in the San Francisco Bay area, in the City of Los Angeles, and in the City of Sacramento. This bill would eliminate the reference to an office in the San Francisco Bay area and instead refer to the department’s offices in the City of Oakland, the City of Los Angeles, and the City of Sacramento. The bill would remove an obsolete cross- reference.

AB 1512 (Bauer-Kahan D) Forest practices: burning of brush-covered lands.

Summary: Current law allows any person, firm, or corporation that owns or controls brush-covered land within a state responsibility area to apply to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for permission to burn the brush from those lands. Existing law provides that cooperation by the department with any person desiring to use prescribed burning as a means of converting brush- covered lands into forage lands, as specified, is declared to be a public purpose and requires the department to provide certain advisory service to applicants for a burning permit. This bill would make nonsubstantive changes in those provisions.

AB 1522 (Levine D) Property insurance.

Summary: Would prohibit an insurer from canceling or refusing to renew a policy of residential property insurance or commercial insurance based solely on the fact that the insured property is located in a high-risk wildfire area.

ACR 33 (Friedman D) Wildfire mitigation.

Summary: This measure would state the Legislature’s commitment to improving wildfire outcomes in the State of California by investing in science-based wildfire mitigation strategies that will benefit the health of California forests and communities. The measure would also state that the Legislature calls upon public and private stakeholders to work jointly to identify, discuss, and refine, as necessary, procedures concerning treatment of forested lands for the purpose of, among other things, wildfire risk mitigation.

SB 11 (Rubio D) Residential property insurance: ratemaking strategies.

Summary: The Insurance Rate Reduction and Reform Act of 1988, an initiative measure enacted by Proposition 103, as approved by the voters at the November 8, 1988, statewide general election, prohibits specified insurance rates from being approved or remaining in effect that are excessive, inadequate, unfairly discriminatory, or otherwise in violation of the act. The act requires an insurer that wishes to change a rate to file a complete rate application with the Insurance Commissioner, as specified. This bill would require the commissioner to convene a stakeholder group of expert parties to identify ways to measure and incorporate various fire damage mitigation strategies into the homeowners’ insurance ratemaking process and to report the group’s findings to the Legislature no later than December 31, 2023.

SB 12 (McGuire D) Local government: planning and zoning: wildfires.

Summary: Current law requires that the Office of Planning and Research, among other things, coordinate with appropriate entities, including state, regional, or local agencies, to establish a clearinghouse for climate adaptation information for use by state, regional, and local entities, as provided. This bill would require the safety element, upon the next revision of the housing element or the hazard mitigation plan, on or after July 1, 2024, whichever occurs first, to be reviewed and updated as necessary to include a comprehensive retrofit strategy to reduce the risk of property loss and damage during wildfires, as specified, and would require the planning agency to submit the adopted strategy to the Office of Planning and Research for inclusion into the above-described clearinghouse.

SB 45 (Portantino D) Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood

Summary: Would enact the Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022, which, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $5,510,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance projects for a wildfire prevention, safe drinking water, drought preparation, and flood protection program.

SB 49 (Umberg D) Business license fees: Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: waiver: tax credit.

Summary: Would prohibit any state agency from collecting any regulatory license fee imposed on a business subject to licensure by a state agency that meets certain criteria, including that the business has temporarily ceased operations in response to a COVID-19 stay-at-home order, as that term is defined. The bill would similarly prohibit a city or county that licenses business activity pursuant to the above-described authority from collecting any regulatory license fee imposed on a business meeting those same criteria. To claim the exemption from license fees under these provisions, the bill would require the business to declare, under penalty of perjury, that it has complied with all applicable COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

SB 55 (Stern D) Very high fire hazard severity zone: state responsibility area: development prohibition.

Summary: Would, in furtherance of specified state housing production and wildfire mitigation goals, prohibit the creation or approval of a new development, as defined, in a very high fire hazard severity zone or a state responsibility area. By imposing new duties on local governments with respect to the approval of new developments in very high fire hazard severity zones and state responsibility areas, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

SB (Stern D) Fire prevention: vegetation management: public education: grands: defensible space: fire hazard severity zones: forest management.

Summary: Would, among other things, require the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to identify areas of the state as moderate and high fire hazard severity zones and would require a local agency to make this information available for public review and comment, as provided. By expanding the responsibility of a local agency, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

SB 72 (Rubio D) Residential property insurance: wildfire risk information reporting.

Summary: Current law establishes in state government the Natural Resources Agency under the supervision of the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, consisting of various departments, including the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, which is responsible for the fire protection, fire prevention, maintenance, and enhancement of the state’s forest, range, and brushland resources, among other things. By November 1, 2022, and annually thereafter, this bill would require the Insurance Commissioner to transmit to the secretary of the agency a report that makes geographic recommendations for vegetation management projects based on the commissioner’s analysis of specified information, including nonrenewal data on policies of residential property insurance, and to post that report on the Department of Insurance’s internet website.

SB 109 (Dodd D) Office of Emergency Services: Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development.

Summary: Would establish the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development within the Office of Emergency Services under the direct control of the Director of the Office of Emergency Services. The bill would make the office responsible for studying, testing, and advising regarding procurement of emerging technologies and tools in order to more effectively prevent and suppress wildfires, and serving as the central organizing hub for the state government’s identification of emerging wildfire technologies, as provided.

SB 332 (Dodd D) Civil liability: prescribed burning operations: gross negligence.

Summary: Would provide that a certified burn boss and a private landowner upon whose property a certified burn boss performs, supervises, or oversees a prescribed burn are not liable for damage or injury to property or persons that is caused by a prescribed burn authorized by law unless the prescribed burn was conducted in a grossly negligent manner.

SB 440 (Dodd D) Earthquake and wildfire loss mitigation.

Summary: Would require the Wildfire Fund Administrator, the Office of Emergency Services, and the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety to create the California Wildfire Residential Loss Mitigation Program as a joint powers authority. The bill would require that program to provide mitigation against wildfire risk, including a grant program to assist qualifying owners to retrofit their structures to protect against wildfire or to create a defensible space around their structures. The bill would establish the Wildfire Loss Mitigation Fund as a continuously appropriated subaccount in the Wildfire Fund to fund the program.

SB 449 (Stern D) Climate-related financial risk.

Summary: Would require a bank, corporation, credit union, finance lender, insurer, investment advisor, real estate investment trust, and mortgage lender, as those terms are defined, to, before January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, prepare a climate-related financial risk report, as defined, and to submit to the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, and make available to the public on its own internet website, a copy of that report. The bill would also require those financial institutions to submit to the department a statement affirming that the climate-related financial risk report discloses all climate-related financial risk.

SB 459 (Allen D) Political Reform Act of 1974: lobbying.

Summary: Would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to increase transparency and public access to lobbying information illustrating how money is spent to influence the actions of California’s government.

SB 657 (Ochoa Bogh R) Employment: electronic documents

Summary: Current law regulates the wages, hours, and working conditions of any worker employed in any occupation, trade, or industry, whether compensation is measured by time, piece, or otherwise, except as specified. The bill would also authorize an employee working from home to receive legally required notices and postings electronically and sign or acknowledge certain documents electronically.

SB 704 (Gonzalez D) Occupational safety and health.

Summary: Current law requires every employer to furnish and use safety devices and safeguards, and to adopt and use practices that are reasonably adequate to render the employment and place of employment safe and healthful. This bill would make nonsubstantive changes to this provision.

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