By: Mike Montgomery
California is a complex state with diverse needs to fit its changing demographics and economy. As we think about how best to prepare our state and its people for our collective future, it’s worth reexamining the regulatory agencies that are entrusted with keeping Californians safe and are responsible for crafting and enforcing important rules that impact millions across the state.
In wake of the recent safety concerns with California’s electricity and gas-line infrastructure, the head of the state’s Public Utilities Commission, Michael Picker, has suggested that perhaps California would be best served if his agency spun off some of its regulatory functions to other agencies.
“In my own judgment, maybe we shouldn’t be doing telecommunications anymore,” Picker said, questioning whether or not the PUC can “do these things effectively” in the face of massive technological and regulatory change.
Clearly, the PUC has a lot on its plate. In addition to supporting California’s infrastructure as we transition to cleaner, renewable forms of energy, it also regulates sectors as diverse as gas, telecommunications, limousine drivers, water, railroads and transit to name but a few.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto, the chair of the Assembly Utilities Committee, has proposed a measure that would break up the PUC. It’s a proposal worth considering, but more importantly, it is time for state lawmakers to consider a thoughtful review and complete airing of the issues that are driving the push for this change.
By embracing a more effective and modern regulatory approach, California can improve public safety while helping our state’s economy grow.