Talks go down to wire on California wildfire legislation

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Debate over legislation to prevent California wildfires and allow utilities to pass along costs to ratepayers is going down to the final hours.

A legislative conference committee met late Monday but fell short of an agreement. Lawmakers must finalize the bill Tuesday in order to vote on it ahead of the Legislature's constitutional deadline on Friday.

The panel has debated for weeks whether to shield utilities from liability when their equipment causes wildfires, and how much of those costs can be passed along to their customers.

Lawmakers rejected changing the liability rules for utilities. But they have proposed allowing power companies to sell bonds to pay off wildfire-related debts and pass along the costs as a surcharge on utility bills.

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