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AB-1128 Communications: California High-Cost Fund-B Administrative Committee Fund program. (2021-2022)

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Date Published: 03/25/2021 09:00 PM
AB1128:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 25, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1128


Introduced by Assembly Member Ramos

February 18, 2021


An act to amend Section 276.5 of the Public Utilities Code, relating to communications.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1128, as amended, Ramos. Communications: California High-Cost Fund-B Administrative Committee Fund program.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including telephone corporations. Existing law requires the commission to develop, implement, and maintain a suitable, competitively neutral, and broad-based program to establish a fair and equitable local rate support structure aided by universal service rate support to telephone corporations serving areas where the cost of providing services exceeds rates charged by providers, which is known as the California High-Cost Fund-B Administrative Committee Fund program. Under existing law, the purpose of the program is to promote the goals of universal telephone service and to reduce any disparity in the rates charged by those companies. Existing law requires revenues collected through surcharges authorized by the commission to fund the program to be deposited in the California High-Cost Fund-B Administrative Committee Fund.
This bill would revise the program to instead ensure universal service rate support to providers serving high-cost areas, and would revise the program’s purpose to instead promote affordability and widespread availability of safe and reliable voice communications services and advanced services, including broadband internet access service. The bill would specify that the changes made by the bill do not authorize the levy of a charge or an increase in the amount collected pursuant to any existing charge, and do not authorize the expansion of the applicability of an existing charge to other ratepayers.

This bill would make a nonsubstantive change to this latter provision.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 In making the changes made by this act to Section 276.5 of the Public Utilities Code, it is the intent of the Legislature to do all of the following:
(a) Maximize federal universal service funding for providers of broadband internet access service, including telephone corporations, reducing cost pressures on the program.
(b) Ensure the Public Utilities Commission, in establishing the regulatory requirements for the California High-Cost Fund-B Program within the policy framework provided by this act, consider ways to contain costs and avoid a surcharge increase.
(c) Timely provide benefits to Californians in high-cost areas of the state using the existing California High-Cost Fund-B Program surplus.

SECTION 1.SEC. 2.

 Section 276.5 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

276.5.
 (a) The commission shall develop, implement, and maintain a suitable, competitively neutral, and broad-based program to establish a fair and equitable local rate support structure aided by ensure universal service rate support to telephone corporations providers serving areas where the cost of providing services exceeds rates charged by providers, high-cost areas, as determined by the commission. The program shall be known, and may be cited, as the California High-Cost Fund-B Administrative Committee Fund program or CHCF-B program. The purpose of the program is to promote the goals of universal telephone service affordability and widespread availability of safe and reliable voice communications services, including broadband internet access service, and to reduce any disparity in the rates charged by those companies. Except as otherwise explicitly provided, this subdivision does not limit the manner in which the commission collects and disburses funds, and does not limit the manner in which it may include or exclude the revenue of contributing entities in structuring the program.
(b) The commission shall structure the CHCF-B program so that any charge imposed to promote the goals of universal service reasonably equals the value of the benefits of universal service to contributing entities and their subscribers.
(c) The commission shall investigate reducing the level of universal service rate support, or elimination of universal service rate support in service areas with demonstrated competition.
(d) The amendments made to this section by the act that adds this subdivision do not authorize the levy of a charge or any increase in the amount collected pursuant to any existing charge, and do not authorize the expansion of the applicability of any existing charge to ratepayers who would otherwise not be required to pay the existing charge, nor do the changes add to, or detract from, the commission’s existing authority to levy or increase charges.

(d)

(e) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2023, deletes or extends that date.