California Senate Democrats Move Forward with Unfair Income-Based Utility Charges

Today, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta) presented an amendment to overturn the proposed additional fixed-charge on electricity bills based on income levels. The so-called ‘Hard Work Utility Tax’ was enabled by a bill pushed by the supermajority party last legislative session. In response, Senator Seyarto and California Senate Republicans attempted to overturn the original bill and put an end to this unfair taxation scheme. The amendment was defeated on a party-line vote.

"This billing model places an unfair burden on hardworking families and individuals in California, who already face some of the highest utility bills in the nation," said Senator Seyarto. "Californians already pay up to 80% more for electricity than the national average, and this proposed tax will only add to that burden. The cost of living in California is already high, and this poorly thought out proposal, passed without a policy hearing or a discussion, will only make it more difficult for working families to afford basics like electricity."

The original bill, supported by California Legislative Democrats, greenlit proposals for income-based utility charges. 

"The proposed fixed-charge on utility bills is nothing but Democrat lawmakers’ shameful attempt to exploit and rip off residential customers. The ‘Hard Work Utility Tax’ is an unjust and regressive plan that fails to recognize the differences in energy usage among households and unfairly burdens lower-income families," said Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones (R-San Diego). "The last thing Californians need is another charge that will make it harder for them to make ends meet."

Senator Seyarto's proposed amendment to AB 1614 aimed to repeal AB 205 (2022), a controversial bill that requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to direct Investor Owned Utilities to propose a new fixed-charge fee structure based on income levels. 

Click here for the full vote and here to watch or download the video of the presentation on the Senate Floor.