Bill Text


PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

AB-3079 Telecommunications: universal service: lifeline program.(2019-2020)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 02/21/2020 09:00 PM
AB3079:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 3079


Introduced by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia

February 21, 2020


An act to amend Sections 878.5 and 914.1 of, and to add Sections 878.6, 878.7, and 878.8 to, the Public Utilities Code, relating to telecommunications.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 3079, as introduced, Eduardo Garcia. Telecommunications: universal service: lifeline program.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including telephone corporations. The Moore Universal Telephone Service Act establishes the Universal Lifeline Telephone Service program (lifeline program) in order to provide low-income households with access to affordable basic residential telephone service. Existing law requires the commission, by January 15, 2017, to adopt a “portability freeze” rule for the lifeline program, which requires lifeline program participants to remain with the same lifeline program service provider for a specified time period in order to remain in the program, except as specified, and requires the commission to consider including in the rule a 60-day duration for the portability freeze.
This bill would require the commission, on or before July 1, 2021, to update the portability freeze rule, and would require the commission to include in the updated rule a 6-month duration, rather than a 60-day duration, of the portability freeze. The bill would require the commission, on or before July 1, 2021, to adopt updated rules for the lifeline program that include, among other things, a modified recertification process and other changes relating to enrollment, participation, and renewal in the program, as specified. The bill would require that the commission authorize only commission-approved telephone corporations to provide service using lifeline program funding. The bill would require the commission, before July 1, 2022, to determine whether to permit a lifeline telephone service subscriber to have an additional lifeline subscription for broadband services. The bill would require the commission to annually report to the Legislature on the implementation of those updated rules and lifeline participation and renewal levels by ZIP Code until specified participation goals are achieved.
Under existing law, a violation of the Public Utilities Act or any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.
Because the provisions of this bill would be a part of the act and because a violation of an order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission implementing its requirements would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 878.5 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

878.5.
 (a) The commission shall adopt a portability freeze rule for the lifeline program by January 15, 2017. The 2017, and shall update the rule on or before July 1, 2021.
(b) The commission shall consider including include, at a minimum, all of the following elements in the updated rule:

(a)

(1) A 60-day six-month duration of the portability freeze.

(b)

(2) A period of time when a subscriber would be able to terminate lifeline service without penalty, similar to that established in Section 4.13.5 of commission Decision 14-01-036 (January 16, 2014), Decision Adopting Revisions to Modernize and Expand the California Lifeline Program.

(c)

(3) A requirement that the administrator of the lifeline program provide a telephone corporation providing lifeline service with real-time information concerning whether a subscriber has enrolled with another telephone corporation during the period of the portability freeze adopted by the commission pursuant to this section and, if the subscriber enrolled during this period, the date of enrollment.

SEC. 2.

 Section 878.6 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

878.6.
 Before July 1, 2021, the commission shall, as part of an existing proceeding, adopt updated rules for the lifeline program that include, at a minimum, all of the following:
(a) Methods for increasing the enrollment, participation, and renewal in the program of eligible low-income individuals commensurate with participation and renewal rates in other public purpose programs administered by the commission, such as the California Alternative Rates for Energy Program.
(b) For purposes of improving the renewal process, a modified recertification process that minimizes the barriers to subscriber recertification, reduces the burden and cost of recertification on the lifeline program, and provides for all of the following:
(1) When a subscriber transfers a benefit from one lifeline provider to another, the deadline for that subscriber to renew shall be at least one calendar year from the approval date of the benefit transfer.
(2) Each lifeline subscriber may complete the annual recertification of eligibility online using an electronic signature, or by telephone using a telephonic signature, and the third-party administrator shall verify the subscriber’s identity using personally identifiable information it has on file and shall not require the subscriber to use a commission-issued personal identification number for identity certification.
(3) Each lifeline subscriber may complete the annual recertification of eligibility by telephone using an interactive voice response system.
(4) Eliminating the use of mail transactions, except when preferred by the lifeline subscriber.
(c) Methods for expediting reimbursement to carriers in order to ensure that payments are made within 45 days and that reimbursements over two million dollars ($2,000,000) incorporate an electronic transfer of funds.
(d) Methods for increasing the use of community-based organizations and public agencies to enroll subscribers in the lifeline program.
(e) For purposes of enrollment, methods for accepting forms of valid state-issued identification, including, but not limited to, identification issued to eligible inmates released from state prisons pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 13000) of Chapter 1 of Division 6 of the Vehicle Code and identification issued to eligible juveniles released from a state juvenile facility pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 12800) and Article 5 (commencing with Section 13000) of Chapter 1 of Division 6 of the Vehicle Code.
(f) For purposes of enrollment, an expansion of the program-based qualification method to make eligible participants in other needs-tested state or local programs, including, but not limited to, community college financial assistance programs and low-income auto insurance programs.
(g) A phasing out of the use of third-party originators, also referred to by the commission as street teams, to enroll eligible participants into the lifeline program.

SEC. 3.

 Section 878.7 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

878.7.
 The commission shall authorize only commission-approved telephone corporations to provide service using lifeline program funding.

SEC. 4.

 Section 878.8 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

878.8.
 Before July 1, 2021, the commission shall initiate a proceeding to determine whether a lifeline telephone service subscriber shall be permitted an additional lifeline subscription for broadband services. The commission shall issue a decision in the proceeding before July 1, 2022.

SEC. 5.

 Section 914.1 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

914.1.
 (a) The commission shall annually report to the Legislature, in a document that can be made public, information relative to the actions undertaken by the commission implementing the lifeline telecommunications universal service program pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 873.
(b) The commission, until it certifies that the goal described in subdivision (a) of Section 878.6 has been achieved, shall annually report to the Legislature on the implementation of Section 878.6 and lifeline participation and renewal levels by ZIP Code.

SEC. 6.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.