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California Assembly creates select committee to investigate high gas prices

Speaker Anthony Rendon also gave updates on continuing negotiations with the Governor on the best form of gas relief

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After months of promising gas relief, California’s state legislature announced Monday it is creating a new committee to investigate why prices are so high.

Speaker Anthony Rendon said the goal of the committee is to answer two questions: why are gas prices so high, and how can lawmakers stop it? 

During a press conference, signs were placed around the room, saying "Stop Gas Price Gouging," suggesting that might be an answer to their first question. It begs the question as to just what the the Assembly would do to keep it from happening if their investigation led them in that direction.

"Those are the questions we're going to ask, and I assume the committee, under the guidance of the chair, will come up with a list of recommendations," said Speaker Anthony Rendon.

When it comes to more immediate relief, the legislature and the governor have been going back and forth for months on the type and amount of relief they want to send back to consumers.

“We're going to have something done very, very soon,” Speaker Rendon said. 

However, "very, very soon" is a line the public keeps hearing. 

"We're following the normal course of the budget," Rendon said. "The way the disbursement would work with respect to rebates, there are some ideas about a debit card, some ideas about a check, there's also direct deposit through FTB is the third option that we're considering. All those have different timelines, but it'll be certainly something, something before October."

The legislature is set to go on summer break in just two weeks for an entire month, and as far as holding committee meetings goes, Rendon said it's up to the chair. 

Will there be an official report they release? That question was not answered. Only that these types of committees usually only last the course of the legislative session, which ends in November.  

California gas prices are set to increase July 1 due to the state gas tax. Something Rendon and other lawmakers have consistently said they don’t want to halt or suspend. 

However on Monday, President Joe Biden said he’s considering doing just that. Will it put pressure on the California legislature? 

Rendon said lawmakers have different views, and that’s another question the committee will have to answer: the pros and cons of suspending the gas tax.

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