After California’s Costly Firestorms, A Wildfire Innovation Office Emerges
California’s 2020 wildfire season broke records. The state reported more than 9,600 wildfires that burned nearly 4.4 million acres, killed 31 people, destroyed 10,000-plus structures, and left Californians with more than $12 billion in damages. The increasing devastation, combined with last year’s losses, has spurred lawmakers to consider a new Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development for advanced fire prevention and suppression.
Changes in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee Staff
While the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee’s makeup is bound to change after the election, Assemblyman Chris Holden recently announced staff. Laura Shybut, Senator Jerry Hill’s Chief of Staff, will become the new chief consultant to the committee.
Newsom Orders Ban on Gas-Fueled Vehicles by 2035
Governor Gavin Newsom today (9/23) called for a ban on the sale of new gasoline-fueled vehicles beginning in 2035. Newsom said he is directing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to establish regulations requiring that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California in 2035 be zero-emission vehicles.
As California’s Fires Burn, Governor Newsom and President Trump Make Nice
The largest wildfire in California history is currently burning in Northern California. A series of lightning strikes ignited 37 fires that merged together. The August Complex Fire exploded in size earlier this week after winds blew flames beyond previously-established control lines, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Saturday Mid-Day Update: Historic Fires Cover the West
UPDATE9/12/2020 -- 12noon Wildfires are burning across the West, but cooler weather may be offering some hope in the coming days. Also, just announced, President Trump will visit Sacramento on Monday (9/14) for a briefing on the California wildfires. According the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the combined firefighting force across the West is more than 29,000 currently on the front lines of these fires. Across the West, thousands of homes and other structures have been lost and regrettably, 26 lives so far. NIFC also reported that evacuations are active in 6 States across the West due to the massive [...]
Newsom Directs State Agencies to Bridge Digital Gaps for Distance Learning
Governor Gavin Newsom announced today that California educational agencies will each receive a portion of $5.3 billion to mitigate losses and provide distance learning support to millions of students across the state. The Governor also signed an executive order charging state agencies with improving and expanding the state's broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet access to all Californians.
California Releases Open Source Tech, Data to Track COVID-19
California has new technology tools and data to help government agencies and the public better understand the spread and impact of COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on June 25.
Senate Confirms GovOps Secretary Yolanda Richardson
On June 22, the California state senate confirmed Yolanda Richardson as Governor Newsom’s appointee as secretary for the Government Operations (GovOps) Agency.
Legislation to Regulate Facial Recognition Technology Stalls
Assembly Bill 2261 by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), which would regulate the way government agencies use facial recognition technology (FRT), was stalled in committee this week.
New Policy Aims for 75 Percent of State Workers to Telework, Report Says
Just as California state offices began reopening on Wednesday in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown and the recent protests sparked by George Floyd’s death, the California Department of Human Resources announced that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration wants 75 percent of workers to telework, according to a report by the Sacramento Bee.
Commission Approves Utility Bankruptcy Plan
On May 28, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved PG&E’s bankruptcy exit plan, the penultimate milestone for the company before it can close its Chapter 11 case ahead of the State's June 30 deadline. CPUC framed their unanimous decision as a protection of PG&E customers, wildfire victims, and clean energy goals. However, they also acknowledged the uncertainty that lies ahead as regulators and lawmakers alike prepare for the possibility of a state takeover of PG&E if the company doesn't exit bankruptcy on time or commits certain safety violations. “PG&E has consistently failed to demonstrate that it adequately understands the [...]
Consumer Watchdog: ‘No More Oil Wells!’
On May 20, Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of taxpayers and consumers, transmitted a letter to Governor Newsom requesting he issue an order that no new oil wells be approved without full bonding for their clean-up, as well as a requirement to plug a certain number of idle wells in exchange for a new permit.
Pumped Storage Legislation Advancing
As we have been reporting, there are two bills dealing with the NextEra Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project: one is currently being held in committee, and the other passed unanimously and is on its way to the Appropriations Committee where it will likely be held – at least for a while.
California Seeks COVID-19 Technology Solutions, Launches Portal to Gather Ideas
The California Department of Technology is seeking technology solutions in response to COVID-19, launching a portal (https://tech.covid19.ca.gov) to gather ideas from the vendor community.
State partners with tech to provide connectivity and devices for remote learning in response to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of schools across California, which has necessitated adequate internet access and technology to continue the school year remotely, something one in five students do not have.
Utilities Committee Offers Guidance on What to Expect
As Chairman of the Utilities and Energy Committee, California Assemblyman Chris Holden sent guidance to his committee suggesting the likelihood of being able to hear a limited number of bills in the balance of this session.
Wilkening: State will soon identify projects for innovation office
Mike Wilkening, Governor Newsom’s special advisor on digital innovation, gave opening remarks at the CIO Academy in Sacramento on Feb. 6, providing an update on the Office of Digital Innovation (ODI) that was proposed a year ago in the governor’s first budget proposal.
Reappointed: Patricia Monahan, California Energy Commission
Governor Newsom today announced the following appointment: Patricia Monahan, 56, of Berkeley, has been reappointed to the California Energy Commission, where she has served since 2019.
Audit Report Cites Concerns with Fi$Cal Timeline
In a status letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and Legislature, the California State Auditor expressed its concern that, due to an updated project proposal, the Financial Information System for California (Fi$Cal) will reach its planned end on June 30, 2020, before it is able to implement several crucial features.
California Needs Coordinated GIS Strategy, Says Little Hoover Commission
California needs to strengthen its use of geographic information systems (GIS) and create a full-time position for a geographic information officer, according to a new report by the Little Hoover Commission. The commission found that, while state agencies make use of GIS technologies, its use is inconsistent, and lacks coordination and centralization.