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AB-1425 California Advanced Services Fund: Broadband Public Housing Account.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/19/2021 09:00 PM
AB1425:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1425


Introduced by Assembly Member Gipson

February 19, 2021


An act to add Section 281.4 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to telecommunications.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1425, as introduced, Gipson. California Advanced Services Fund: Broadband Public Housing Account.
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 administer the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) program to encourage 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 authorizes the commission to impose a surcharge to collect $330,000,000 for deposit into the CASF beginning January 1, 2018, and continuing through the 2022 calendar year. Existing law establishes 4 accounts, the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account, the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant Account, the Broadband Public Housing Account, and the Broadband Adoption Account within the CASF and specifies the amount of surcharge revenues to be deposited into each account, subject to appropriation by the Legislature. Existing law provides that moneys in the Broadband Public Housing Account are available for grants and loans to publicly supported communities to finance projects to connect those communities to broadband networks. Existing law provides that moneys in the Broadband Public Housing Account that have not been awarded by December 31, 2020, are transferred back to the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account.
This bill would, beginning January 1, 2022, transfer $25,000,000 to the Broadband Public Housing Account for providing grants to provide connectivity, as defined, to residents of publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes. The bill would establish that the goal of the Broadband Public Housing Account is to provide connectivity to all residents of publicly subsidized multiunit housing by 2025 or as soon as practicable thereafter. If the collection of the surcharge for the CASF program is extended beyond the 2022 calendar year, the bill would transfer annually $25,000,000 to the Broadband Public Housing Account until the goal of the fund is achieved or when the collection of the surcharge is terminated, whichever occurs earlier. The bill would require the commission to give preferences to certain applications for grants from the Broadband Public Housing Account, 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.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The availability of high-speed internet access, referred to generically as “broadband” and including both wired and wireless technologies, is essential 21st century infrastructure for economic competitiveness and quality of life. Economic studies confirm that the use of broadband technologies increases economic productivity as a foundation for increased efficiency in organizational operations and enhanced profitability in business.
(2) Broadband infrastructure is also vital to the operation and management of other critical infrastructure, such as energy generation systems and the electrical grid, water supply systems, and public safety and emergency response networks. There is a need for world-class broadband infrastructure throughout California to support these major infrastructure investments, and thereby to protect lives, property, and the environment.
(3) Residents qualifying to reside in publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes are by definition among the poorest and most disadvantaged Californians in need of additional assistance to rise above existing levels of poverty.
(4) Approximately 40 percent of all residents in publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes remain unconnected at home to the internet and that percentage has not increased substantially since the enactment of Chapter 851 of the Statutes of 2017. Further, the majority of residents in publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes who are connected at home have only a smartphone, which inhibits children from succeeding in school and adults from improving workforce skills.
(5) Residents in publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes cannot afford market-rate home internet subscription plans without cutting into limited resources for other subsistence necessities.
(6) The governmental and nonprofit organizational owners of publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes operate on established budgets to secure subsidies and do not have the resources to pay for internet service for all residents at the rates commonly offered by internet service providers. Older existing publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes need special assistance because they were constructed without accommodating high-speed internet service infrastructure and the cost for retrofitting are beyond the available funding for these organizations.
(7) The status of internet nonconnectivity for residents in publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes falls short of the Legislature’s intent to achieve world-class broadband infrastructure throughout California, and to be a national leader in the deployment and adoption of broadband technology in implementing high-quality universal access for all residents.
(8) In enacting Chapter 507 of the Statutes of 2013, it was the intent of the Legislature that the state should seek to get all residents in publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes connected to high-speed internet service in their residential units to help them save time and money and thereby assist them in becoming more self-sufficient.
(9) In enacting the Internet For All Now Act (Chapter 851 of the Statutes of 2017), it was the intent of the Legislature that:
(A) California be a national leader and globally competitive in the deployment and adoption of broadband technology and in implementing high-quality universal access for all residents.
(B) California achieve no later than December 31, 2022, the goal of no less than 98 percent of households in each consortia region having access to broadband internet by fostering private investment, maximizing California’s ability to obtain available federal funds, and administering the California Advanced Services Fund to fund broadband infrastructure where private investments and federal funds are not available and not use moneys in that fund to overbuild the broadband infrastructure.
(C) The state encourage collaboration among stakeholders and promote public-private partnerships to harness the expertise and strengths of all partners to serve the public interest.
(b) The Legislature declares that it is the policy of the state to seek to ensure that all residents in publicly subsidized multiunit housing complexes are connected to high-speed internet service in their residential units to assist them in increasing educational achievement, improve workforce skills, seek employment paying living wages, expand access to health and medical care, protect personal security and public safety, and enhance quality of life to rise above existing levels of poverty.

SEC. 2.

 Section 281.4 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

281.4.
 (a) (1) For purposes of this section, the definitions specified in subdivision (i) of Section 281 apply.
(2) “Connect” or “Connectivity” means, for a resident in a publicly subsidized multiunit housing complex, the presence of all of the following conditions:
(A) Actual installed broadband infrastructure access in a residential dwelling unit at a price affordable to the residents or the owner of the housing complex.
(B) Ownership or ongoing possession of an appropriate computing device for the residents in the unit to connect to the internet that is capable of navigating the internet.
(C) Sufficient digital literacy proficiency to use the device and navigate the internet to send and receive digital messages, access and retrieve information and data, and generate and share content via the internet. For residents with children in school, an appropriate computing device shall be capable of supporting distance learning and enabling students to complete school assignments.
(b) The goal of this section is to provide connectivity to all residents in publicly subsidized multiunit housing by 2025, or as soon as practicable thereafter, by awarding grants to eligible applicants.
(c) (1) Notwithstanding paragraph (7) of subdivision (i) of Section 281, beginning January 1, 2022, the commission shall deposit not less than twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) of the surcharge collected pursuant to Section 281 in the Broadband Public Housing Account for the purposes of this section.
(2) If the collection of the surcharge pursuant to Section 281 is extend to after December 31, 2022, except as provided in paragraph (3), the commission shall annually transfer twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) of the surcharge collected to the Broadband Public Housing Account for the purposes of this section.
(3) (A) Paragraph (2) becomes inoperative on the earlier of the date when the collection of the surcharge is terminated or when all of the following occur:
(i) The commission makes a formal finding that the goal set forth in subdivision (b) has been achieved.
(ii) The commission submits the formal finding to the Legislature, in accordance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(iii) Upon the submission of the finding pursuant to clause (ii), the Legislature holds a public hearing on the findings.
(B) Any unencumbered moneys in the Broadband Public Housing Account as of the date when paragraph (2) becomes inoperative shall be transferred to the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account.
(d) (1) On and after July 1, 2022, and until the inoperative date of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c), the commission shall accept applications for grants funded by the Broadband Public Housing Account that provide for one or more conditions for connectivity to residents in a publicly subsidized multiunit housing complex.
(2) The commission shall give preference to applications that establish either of the following:
(A) The housing complex lacks installed broadband infrastructure access in at least one unit of the housing complex as of January 1, 2021.
(B) At least 20 percent of the residents in the housing complex do not have internet service in their residential units because either the requisite infrastructure is not present as of January 1, 2021, or the available internet service is not at a price offered by the internet service provider that is affordable.
(3) An application for a grant to provide appropriate devices or digital literacy training or both shall be awarded only if installed broadband infrastructure exists in all residential units or will be accomplished as a result of the grant.
(4) The commission shall give priority consideration to applications that include innovation collaborative partnerships with one or more internet service providers in the interest of leveraging and augmenting the Broadband Public Housing Account.
(5) (A) The commission shall notify entities that had a pending application for funding from the Broadband Public Housing Account as of December 31, 2016, to the availability of grants from the Broadband Public Housing Account and invite those entities to submit a new application pursuant to this section.
(B) The commission shall give priority consideration to applications submitted by those entities described in subparagraph (A).