California Legislature Propose Changes To Cope With Effects Of Natural Disasters

The California Legislature is responding to the increasing threat of natural disasters by proposing changes to insurance regulations, emergency alert systems and debris removal.

According to the LA Times, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators want to create new laws that “add to the many protections already enshrined in state law for those who have experienced natural disasters, including substantial relief from property taxes.”

Some of the laws being proposed address:

Insurance Coverage: A total of eight bills are targeting insurance companies. One in particular, Senate Bill 897, would force insurance companies to accept policyholders’ tallies of items lost to natural disasters and pay out no less than 80% of the policy limit even if they do not have a full list of what was lost. Six of the bills would would address under insurance and policy cancellations in fire-prone areas. SB 894 would allow policyholders to combine coverage from their primary homes with other insured buildings they may have to rebuild their main residence. Assembly Bills 1797, 1800, and 1799 address replacement costs for residences that are destroyed by natural disasters.

Emergency Alert Systems: Senate Bills 833 and 821 would expand the reach of emergency alert systems.

Penalties For Those At Fault: Senate Bills 819 and 901 deal with electric utilities. SB 819 would prohibit electrical utilities from passing the cost of fines or penalties to ratepayers if they are found to be responsible for the disaster. SB 901 would require electric companies to provide plans for handling power lines during high winds or risky conditions.

Translation Services, Easier Cleanup, and Fee Exemptions: Assembly Bills 1877 and 1765 would address translating emergency communications in English and any other languages spoken in an affected area and exempt people from paying the states new low-income housing development fee, respectively. An additional, but yet to be introduced bill, would speed up debris removal.

The remaining bills look to provide California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with additional fees to help it combat the increasing threat of wildfires in the future.


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