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SB-732 Communications: broadband.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/19/2021 09:00 PM
SB732:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 732


Introduced by Senator Bates

February 19, 2021


An act to add and repeal Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 54765) of Chapter 9 of Part 29 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, and to add Section 281.5 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to communications, making an appropriation therefor, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 732, as introduced, Bates. Communications: broadband.
Existing law establishes in the state government a State Department of Education and the department is responsible for various ongoing activities involving the public schools.
This bill would require the department to develop and implement a program for county offices of education, school districts, and charter schools to issue no-cash value vouchers to be distributed to households with eligible pupils, as defined, to be used during the 2021–22 fiscal year to assist those households with the impacts of distant or remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would repeal these provisions on January 1, 2023. The bill would appropriate an unspecified amount to the department for purposes of developing and implementing the 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 administer the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) program to encourage deployment of high-quality advanced communications services to all Californians. Existing law provides that the goal of the program is to, no later than December 31, 2022, approve funding for infrastructure projects that will provide broadband access to no less than 98% of California households, as provided. Existing law authorizes the commission to collect a sum not to exceed $330,000,000 to implement the CASF program through the imposition of a surcharge that is collected starting on January 1, 2018, and continuing through the 2022 calendar year. Existing law establishes 4 accounts within the CASF: (1) the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account, (2) the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant Account, (3) the Broadband Infrastructure Revolving Loan Account, and (4) the Broadband Public Housing Account.
This bill would establish the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Fund as a continuously appropriated fund in the State Treasury and would require the commission to develop, implement, and administer the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Program to provide high-quality broadband service with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 100 mbps upstream to rural areas that are unserved, as defined, and to the extent moneys remain available, to upgrade broadband service availability in rural areas that are underserved, as defined. The bill would appropriate $5,000,000,000 to the commission, and additionally appropriate $1,000,000,000 per year for 5 years beginning with the 2023–24 fiscal year, for purposes of developing, implementing, and administering the program.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 54765) is added to Chapter 9 of Part 29 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, to read:
Article  9.5. Pandemic Distant Learning Assistance Vouchers

54765.
 For purposes of this article, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) “Department” means the State Department of Education.
(b) “Eligible pupils” means those pupils eligible for free or reduced-price meals, as defined in Section 42238.01.
(c) “Local educational agencies” means county offices of education, school districts, and charter schools.
(d) “No-cash value voucher” means a voucher that has an established dollar value to the household to which it is issued, but has no value other than to the household it is issued to, so as to prevent it from being sold or traded.

54766.
 The department shall develop and implement a program for local educational agencies to issue no-cash value vouchers to be distributed to households with eligible pupils to be used during the 2021–22 fiscal year to assist those households with the impacts of distant or remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The vouchers may be used to purchase broadband service or the hardware and software necessary to access broadband service to enable eligible pupils to undertake distant or remote learning. The department shall specify those broadband service providers and those entities or vendors eligible to supply hardware and associated software sufficient to enable eligible pupils to undertake distant or remote learning.

54767.
 This article shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 2.

 Section 281.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

281.5.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Underserved” rural area means a rural area for which no facility-based broadband provider offers broadband service at speeds exceeding 25 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 3 mbps upstream.
(2) “Unserved” rural area means a rural area for which no facility-based broadband provider offers broadband service at speeds of at least 6 mbps per second downstream and one mbps upstream.
(b) The Rural Broadband Infrastructure Fund is hereby created in the State Treasury. Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, moneys deposited in the fund are hereby continuously appropriated to the commission, without regard to fiscal years, for the purposes of the program established pursuant to this section.
(c) The commission shall develop, implement, and administer the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Program to provide high-quality broadband service to rural areas that are unserved and, to the extent moneys remain available, to upgrade broadband service availability in rural areas that are underserved. The program shall do all the following:
(1) Select qualifying projects using a reverse auction process whereby the lowest bid qualified bidder is awarded the project.
(2) Require that qualifying projects provide broadband service at speeds that equal or exceed 100 mbps downstream and 100 mbps upstream.
(3) Ensure that projects do not receive double funding from different sources, including from federal universal service programs and from the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Program, for the same project or level of service. Projects that receive federal or other support are eligible for funding from the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Fund if the other funding will be insufficient to achieve high-quality broadband speeds of 100 mbps downstream and 100 mbps upstream and additional funding through the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Program will enable the project to achieve those high-quality broadband speeds.

SEC. 3.

 In order to better address communications needs arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare the state’s communications network to be better prepared for similar events in the future, the following sums are appropriated to the following entities:
(a) The sum of ____ is hereby appropriated to the State Department of Education for purposes of developing and implementing the program and for allocation to local educational agencies pursuant to Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 54765) of Chapter 9 of Part 29 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code.
(b) The sum of ten billion dollars ($10,000,000,000) is transferred to the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Fund and hereby appropriated to the Public Utilities Commission to develop, implement, and administer the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Program pursuant to Section 281.5 of the Public Utilities Code, pursuant to the following schedule:
(1) Five billion dollars ($5,000,000,000) immediately.
(2) One billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in the 2023–24 fiscal year.
(3) One billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in the 2024–25 fiscal year.
(4) One billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in the 2025–26 fiscal year.
(5) One billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in the 2026–27 fiscal year.
(6) One billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in the 2027–28 fiscal year.

SEC. 4.

 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the California Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to ensure that the public school system is able to provide proper educational services for its pupils at the earliest possible time, to address the damaging effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to prepare for future events similar to the current pandemic, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.