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AB-2163 Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Act of 2020.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/11/2020 09:00 PM
AB2163:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2163


Introduced by Assembly Members Robert Rivas, Aguiar-Curry, and Mathis
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Arambula, Eduardo Garcia, Kalra, Salas, and Mark Stone)
(Coauthors: Senators Caballero and Nielsen)

February 11, 2020


An act to add Chapter 7.3 (commencing with Section 11787) to Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, relating to telecommunications.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2163, as introduced, Robert Rivas. Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Act of 2020.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including telephone corporations. Existing law establishes, among other funds related to telecommunications, the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) in the State Treasury. Existing law requires the commission to develop, implement, and administer the CASF to encourage the deployment of high-quality advanced communications services to all Californians that will promote economic growth, job creation, and the substantial social benefits of advanced information and communications technologies. Existing law requires the commission to approve infrastructure projects supported by expenditures from the fund that provide last-mile broadband access to households that are unserved by an existing facilities-based broadband provider.
This bill would establish the Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Act of 2020 to ensure that all California fairgrounds are equipped with adequate broadband and telecommunications infrastructure to support local, regional, and state emergency and disaster response personnel and systems. The bill would, upon appropriation, require the Department of Technology, Department of Food and Agriculture, Public Utilities Commission, California Broadband Council, and Office of Emergency Services to jointly develop the Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Program to provide each California fairground with grant moneys to support broadband and telecommunications infrastructure deployment.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The availability of high-speed internet service, referred to generically as “broadband” and including both wired and wireless technologies, is essential to supporting California’s 21st century infrastructure and for improving economic productivity and quality of life.
(2) Increasing access to broadband in unserved and underserved areas of the state fulfills a fundamental governmental purpose and function and provides public benefits to the residents of California by increasing access to health care, education, and essential services, providing economic opportunities, and enhancing public health and safety.
(3) Broadband is also vital to the operation of other critical infrastructure, such as energy generation facilities and the electrical grid, water supply systems, and public safety and emergency response networks. California needs far-reaching world-class broadband infrastructure to support that critical infrastructure, and thereby to protect lives, property, and the environment.
(4) Many rural, agricultural, and low-income communities throughout the state lack access to reliable and affordable broadband, which creates barriers to health care access, educational equity, sustainable agriculture, emergency response capabilities, and economic development.
(5) A 2017 report by the Public Utilities Commission stated that less than one-half of the state’s rural population has access to broadband compared to 98 percent of the urban population.
(6) A 2019 report by the California Emerging Technology Fund found one in eight homes in California lacks access to broadband through a computing device or smart phone, and that those homes without access to broadband are disproportionately located in poor neighborhoods and rural communities.
(7) One solution to address this inequity is to ensure that broadband infrastructure is installed at all California fairgrounds, which are focal points for many rural communities and have immense economic, educational, social, and cultural opportunities and impacts.
(8) Fairgrounds provide equitable and essential access points as staging areas for first responders and as evacuation and recovery centers. Unfortunately, many fairgrounds lack one vital element: permanent high-speed open-access internet.
(9) The Federal Communications Commission adopted a national broadband plan that includes recommendations directed to federal, state, and local governments, including recommendations to do all of the following:
(A) Design policies to ensure robust competition and maximize consumer welfare, innovation, and investment.
(B) Ensure efficient allocation and management of assets that the government controls or influences to encourage network upgrades and lower barriers to competitive entry.
(C) Reform current universal service mechanisms to support deployment in high-cost areas, ensuring that low-income Americans can afford broadband and supporting efforts to boost adoption and utilization.
(D) Reform laws, policies, standards, and incentives to maximize the benefits of broadband in sectors that government influences significantly, such as public education, health care, and government operations.
(b) It is therefore the intent of the Legislature that California be a national leader and globally competitive in the deployment and adoption of broadband technology and in implementing quality universal broadband internet access for all residents.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 7.3 (commencing with Section 11787) is added to Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, to read:
CHAPTER  7.3. Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Act of 2020

11787.
 (a) The Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Act of 2020 is hereby established to ensure that all California fairgrounds are equipped with adequate broadband and telecommunications infrastructure to support local, regional, and state emergency and disaster response personnel and operations.
(b) Upon appropriation, the Department of Technology, Department of Food and Agriculture, Public Utilities Commission, California Broadband Council, and Office of Emergency Services shall jointly develop the Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Program to provide each California fairground with grant moneys to support broadband and telecommunications infrastructure deployment.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the Rural Broadband and Emergency Infrastructure Grant Program do all of the following:
(1) Ensure that the grant moneys are primarily used to fund critical broadband infrastructure and emergency communications systems that are sufficient to meet the needs of any emergency shelter and response activities and that are increasingly needed at fairgrounds throughout the state.
(2) Require each grant application to include assurances that all local, regional, and state emergency and disaster response leads, and local government, business, community, and agriculture stakeholders, are included in any applicable local needs assessment process and that local needs are prioritized.
(3) Require that the grant moneys are used to maximize critical broadband access at all fairgrounds throughout the state, while fostering new economic opportunities in neighboring communities.