Friday, August 31, 2018

Think Progress

By E.A. Cruden

One of the worst wildfire periods in California’s history is slowly winding down, with the majority of the state’s deadly fires now contained or nearly under control.

Of the 16 wildfires that tore through the state earlier this month, all but five are now contained. That includes the Mendocino Complex fire, which burned for a month and is now the worst wildfire in California’s recorded history. That fire is a complex of two fires, the Ranch fire and the River fire, both of which began burning in July.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Los Angeles Times

By Patrick McGreevy

After more than a decade of attempts to ban smoking at California beaches and parks, environmentalists have advanced new legislation to prevent lighting up in certain public places.

The proposals, approved Thursday by the Senate, now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed three previous bills on the issue.

Supporters feel this year’s devastating wildfires have bolstered their argument and given their proposals new urgency.

Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) emphasized the fire-related need for the legislation during floor debate in the Assembly.

“The 2017 California wildfire season was the most destructive one on record, and the 2018 season is not off to a great start,” Levine said. “This bill is a common-sense approach to lower the risk of forest fires and will help curb pollution.”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Bay Area News Group

By George Avalos

State legislation designed to curb efforts by PG&E and other utility behemoths to saddle consumers with costs triggered by a company’s negligence has been approved by the Legislature and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 819, authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, would prohibit utilities from passing costs that result from the company’s negligence along to ratepayers in the form of higher monthly gas and electricity bills.

In recent months, PG&E has embarked on a crusade, led by Chief Executive Officer Geisha Williams, to pressure politicians in Sacramento to craft legislative packages that would ease the company’s financial exposure to lethal disasters such as the wildfires that torched Wine Country in October, as well as to pave a smoother path to shovel the financial costs onto ratepayers.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Insurance Journal

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill that is intended to combat what are believed underinsurance issues revealed by 2017 wildfires.

AB 1797 by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Marin County, is expected to create a requirement for insurers writing residential property insurance to conduct a replacement cost estimate on an every other year basis.


“We heard from wildfire survivors about the devastating realization of being underinsured due to inaccurate or outdated replacement cost models used by insurers,” Levine said in a statement. “After facing the most destructive wildfires in state history, Californians should not have to begin the recovery process underinsured. California has prioritized protecting consumers and helping prevent underinsurance.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Press Democrat

By Bill Swindell

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this week requiring insurance companies to provide homeowners an estimate every two years how much it would cost to replace their homes.

The legislation, AB 1797, sponsored by Assembly member Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, was in response to the plight many residents faced in the aftermath of last year’s wildfires. A large number of fire victims found themselves severely underinsured between their insurance payouts and the overall cost of rebuilding. Some face deficits as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Fox 40

If you've ever used too much data on your cellphone, you may have noticed your speed slow to a crawl. It's called "throttling," and California lawmakers are calling out Verizon for doing it to first responders fighting wildfires.

Smartphones, laptops and tablets have become vital tools for firefighters to save homes and lives.

That's why California lawmakers were furious to hear a group of Santa Clara firefighters operating a communications post during the Mendocino Complex Fire had their data restricted.

"This is unforgivable. It's inexcusable," said Marc Levine, a California state assemblyman. "This was not a fire drill. This was now the largest fire in California history, and only a year after the most destructive fire in California history."

Friday, August 24, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle

By Kevin Fagan

Verizon executives came to the Capitol on Friday to get a tongue lashing over the cell phone giant’s throttling of data service for firefighters battling the massive Mendocino Complex fire — but en route they nipped the scolding in the bud by abruptly lifting all data caps on emergency first responders.

The policy went into effect for fire-ravaged California and Hurricane Lane-lashed Hawaii on Thursday, the company said, and a fuller plan for the rest of the nation will be rolled out next week. Public agencies will be able to switch to the new plan at no additional cost.

“It was a little surprising to hear, and the right thing to do,” said Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, who had called for a hearing Friday before the committee he co-chairs to investigate Verizon’s decision to drastically slow data speed. A firefighting agency said that move put their first responders in danger because they were relying on the service to communicate during the fight against the fires.

Levine’s committee went ahead with its session anyway, hearing from Verizon brass as well as leaders of the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, whose data was throttled last month as they were in the thick of helping fight the Mendocino Complex, the biggest wildfire in state history. But with Verizon’s surprise announcement, the conversation switched from how to address the individual problem that the Santa Clara County firefighters faced to how to craft future policy preventing similar trouble for other emergency responders.