On the same day that several Legislative Democrats announced 'action' on the new income-based utility fee in California, Senate Republicans once again provided them an opportunity to act. Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) gave Senate Democrats the chance to right their wrong on this issue by forcing a floor vote to repeal the law which created this mess. Grove's amendments would have repealed the law that has required investor-owned utilities to add a new income-based fee for electricity bills.
In 2022, Sacramento Democrats rammed Assembly Bill 205 through at the last minute by labelling it a ‘so-called’ budget trailer bill. The law has since faced criticism for including such a monumental measure with such minimal discussion. In 2023, California Senate Republicans gave Senate Democrats several opportunities to right this wrong, yet they failed to act.
“Why are neighboring states paying nearly half the costs of electricity compared to what Californians are paying to keep their lights on?,” asked Senator Grove. “The majority party’s constant attacks against the energy industry is pushing families into energy poverty, making them choose between putting food on the table or paying their utility bills. We must act now, if we want families to stop fleeing from California's high cost of living."
“My constituents and many other Californians are already facing significant financial struggles living in this state. The pain is real,” said Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber). “They shouldn’t face an additional burden when they open their electricity bills – they're trying to afford staying in California. Our efforts today would have addressed the root of the problem that Legislative Democrats caused, instead of slapping a band-aid on an impending cash wound Californians are about to face. Let this unfortunately harsh reality serve as yet another example of how the majority party's poor policies are driving people out of this state.”
Senator Grove moved to amend SB 863 on the Senate floor to accomplish the task of repealing the fee imposed by AB 205. In a procedural trick, Senate Democrats voted against hearing the measure as they voted in support of a motion to table it. All Senate Republicans voted to hear the measure on the Senate floor.
In 2022, California Democrat legislators pushed forward Assembly Bill 205 (2022). Now law, the controversial AB 205 authorized members of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to create an income-based fixed charge on utility bills.
In April 2023, Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones and the California Senate Republican Caucus raised the initial red flag in a letter to the CPUC expressing their concerns about AB 205.
Following their April 2023 letter, Senate Republicans again tried to sound the alarm and repeal AB 205 in September 2023 with a full floor vote in the Senate, which was ultimately tabled on a party line vote.
In November 2023, Senate Republicans delivered another urgent letter, this time to the governor requesting that he join the caucus and 23 Democrat lawmakers to repeal, or substantially amend, a law authorizing a fixed-charge billing system for electricity bills based on household income.