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

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Date Published: 07/07/2020 09:00 PM
AB2626:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  July 07, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 04, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 11, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2626


Introduced by Assembly Member Bauer-Kahan
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Burke)

February 20, 2020


An act to add Article 10.5 (commencing with Section 55000) to Chapter 9 of Part 29 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, and to add and repeal Section 6363.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, relating to distance learning. digital divide.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2626, as amended, Bauer-Kahan. Distance Digital divide: distance learning: California Research Bureau. Bureau: communications technology grant program.
Existing law establishes the California State Library, which includes the California Research Bureau, as a division within the State Department of Education.
This bill would require the California Research Bureau to 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.
Existing law establishes a system of public elementary and secondary schools in this state and authorizes local educational agencies throughout the state to operate schools and provide instruction to pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive. Existing law also establishes the State Department of Education in state government, and vests the department with specified powers and duties relating to the state’s public school system.
This bill would establish the Bridging the Digital Divide Grant Program under the administration of the State Department of Education 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. The bill would, subject to an appropriation for its purposes, provide grant funds to school districts, county office of educations, and charter schools to purchase 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, as provided.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


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.

SECTION 1.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.