California: Governor Gavin Newsom Signs Wildfire Safety and Accountability Legislation
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At Signing, Governor Also Announced Appointment of Marybel Batjer as President of California Public Utilities Commission

SACRAMENTO – Taking action to move our state toward a safer, affordable and reliable energy future, Governor Gavin Newsom signed wildfire safety and accountability legislation today in Sacramento.

The Governor signed the following bills today:
  • AB 110 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) – Budget Act of 2019. AB 111 by the Committee on Budget – Wildfire agencies: public utilities: safety and insurance. AB 1054 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) – Public utilities: wildfires and employee protection.

For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

"I want to thank the Legislature for taking thoughtful and decisive action to move our state toward a safer, affordable and reliable energy future, provide certainty for wildfire victims and continue California's progress toward meeting our clean energy goals," said Governor Newsom. "The rise in catastrophic wildfires fueled by climate change is a direct threat to Californians. Strengthening our state's wildfire prevention, preparedness and mitigation efforts will continue to be a top priority for my administration and our work with the Legislature."

Governor Newsom also announced today the appointment of Marybel Batjer as President of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

"Marybel's deep experience in government administration and sound judgment make her uniquely qualified to take on this important role," said Governor Newsom. "I am confident she will protect the best interest of all Californians by challenging utilities to embrace reform while providing safe, reliable and affordable service."

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Batjer currently serves as the first-ever Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency. In this role, she has led forward-looking efforts to revamp the way the state approaches data and technology, modernized the civil service system, and has led the implementation of key initiatives to green state government and promote renewable energy.

Prior to taking office at CPUC, Batjer will complete her work later this month as head of Governor Newsom's DMV Strike Team, which has already begun implementation of key changes to transition the California Department of Motor Vehicles into a more customer-friendly and user-centered culture, to better serve Californians. In appointing Batjer to lead the Strike Team, Newsom called her "one of the most accomplished management experts in state government."

Before heading the Government Operations Agency, Batjer was Vice President for Public Policy and Corporate Social Responsibility at Caesars Entertainment Inc., where she developed and promoted corporate social responsibility policy and initiatives and counseled the senior executive team during a public merger on issues pertaining to reputation management and public policy.

Batjer also served as Cabinet Secretary to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2003 to 2005, Chief of Staff to Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn from 2000 to 2003 and Undersecretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1997 to 1998.

Batjer's successful and collaborative management style has gained her the respect of leaders in both the public and private sectors, where she has served on several boards and commissions, including as the former Vice Chair of the State of Nevada Colorado River Commission.

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In her role as Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, Batjer has won several awards, including Governing Magazine's national 2017 Public Official of the Year, the American Society for Public Administration (Sacramento Chapter) 2018 Liz Hill Public Official of the Year and California Woman Lead: Woman of the Year.

Batjer, 64, of Sacramento, has served as Secretary of the Government Operations Agency since 2013. She served as Cabinet Secretary in the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2003 to 2005, Chief of Staff in the Office of Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn from 2000 to 2003 and Undersecretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1997 to 1998. Batjer was Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing from 1992 to 1997 and special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of the Navy from 1989 to 1992. She was a national security affairs special assistant for President Ronald Reagan and deputy executive secretary for the National Security Council from 1987 to 1989. Batjer was assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and deputy secretary of defense from 1981 to 1987 and director of political planning for the National Women's Political Caucus from 1980 to 1981. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $219,000. Batjer is a Democrat.

The Governor also thanked outgoing CPUC President Michael Picker for his decades of dedicated public service.

"Michael has brought deep expertise in energy policy and a commitment to advancing the state's climate goals," said Governor Newsom. "His knowledge, vision and commitment has been critical as the state examines the role of utilities following recent catastrophic wildfires, and necessary changes in an era of climate change."stats

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