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California lawmakers take up key wildfire proposals

Noah Berger
AP Photo
In this Nov. 8, 2018 file photo, a home burns as a wildfire called Camp Fire rages through Paradise, California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers are taking up proposals aimed at stabilizing the state's electric utilities in the face of devastating wildfires caused by their equipment.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wants the bills to pass by Friday, when lawmakers go on a monthlong break. Ratings agencies that assess the state's investor-owned utilities such as Moody's are closely watching the Legislature's action.

Two pieces of legislation are up for hearings Monday. One would create a "wildfire fund" with tens of billions of dollars to help pay out damage claims from devastating fires. Utilities could tap it if they follow certain safety steps.

The other would create a new Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety to oversee the state's and utilities' wildfire safety efforts.