Today's Law As Amended


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AB-2626 Digital divide: distance learning: California Research Bureau: communications technology grant program.(2019-2020)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.

 Article 10.5 (commencing with Section 55000) is added to Chapter 9 of Part 29 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, to read:

Article  10.5. The Bridging the Digital Divide Grant Program
55000.
 It is the intent of the Legislature to help close the digital divide by reducing the upfront costs of devices and communications technology purchased by local educational agencies to provide low-income or otherwise disadvantaged pupils with equitable access to distance learning in response to COVID-19. The Legislature finds that the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic evidences the importance of expenditures needed to reduce the gap in access to distance learning for pupils lacking these critical tools.
55001.
 As used in this article, the following definitions apply:
(a) “Department” means the State Department of Education.
(b) “Local educational agency” means a school district, county office of education, or charter school.
(c) “Qualified tangible property” means computers, tablets, computing devices, routers, hardware, software, and other equipment primarily purchased to provide low-income or otherwise disadvantaged students with access to distance learning using communications technology.
55002.
 (a) The Bridging the Digital Divide Grant Program is hereby established under the administration of the department for purposes of reducing the gap in access to distance learning due to the COVID-19 statewide shelter-in-place order that has resulted in the closures of public schools and led to the institution of distance learning programs.
(b) (1) Subject to an appropriation by the Legislature and pursuant to Section 281 of the Public Utilities Code, the department shall provide grant funds to local educational agencies from funds appropriated in the Budget Act of 2020 to the Public Utilities Commission for bridging the digital divide. The total number of grant award funds issued pursuant to this article shall not exceed the amount appropriated to the commission for bridging the digital divide in the Budget Act of 2020.
(2) Grant funds shall be used only to purchase qualified tangible property relating to bridging the digital divide.
(3) No school district shall receive more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) from the program.

SEC. 2.

 Section 6363.1 is added to the Revenue and Taxation Code, to read:

6363.1.
 (a) (1) The California Research Bureau shall conduct research on ways to close the digital divide through policies, including, but not limited to, tax policies, that reduce the upfront costs of devices and communications technology purchased by local educational agencies to provide students with equitable access to distance learning.
(2) The study required by this subdivision shall be submitted to the Legislature pursuant to Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(b) This section shall be in effect only until December 31, 2026, and after that date is repealed.