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California drops wildfire utility liability protection plan

California drops wildfire utility liability protection plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers are abandoning a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to shield electrical utilities from some financial liability for wildfires.

Napa Democratic Sen. Bill Dodd tells the San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday that there wasn't enough time before the legislative session ends Aug. 31 to study and pass the issue.

He says "it was a tough fight ... so we are pivoting."

The proposal by the Democratic Brown drew criticism that it would give utility companies too much protection without ensuring they safely maintain equipment.

Lawmakers raised concerns about Brown's plan at an Aug. 9 hearing on the proposal as part of a committee set up to address wildfire issues.

Current California law holds utilities responsible for damage from fires ignited by their equipment even if they've followed safety rules.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com