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SB-546 Communications: lifeline universal service.(2021-2022)



Current Version: 05/20/21 - Amended Senate Compare Versions information image


SB546:v94#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  May 20, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  May 04, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  April 19, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  March 25, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  March 05, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 546


Introduced by Senator Wilk
(Coauthor: Senator Ochoa Bogh)
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Lackey)

February 18, 2021


An act to add Section 881 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to communications, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 546, as amended, Wilk. Communications: lifeline universal service.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over telephone corporations. Existing law establishes the lifeline telephone service program to provide low-income households with access to affordable basic residential telephone service. Under existing law, the commission established a 2-year pilot program within the lifeline telephone service program that provides a smartphone and monthly prepaid mobile telephony service to certain current and former foster youth 13 to 26 years of age, inclusive, as specified.
This bill would require the commission to continue this foster youth program as an element of the lifeline telephone service program to provide eligible foster youth with a smartphone and monthly prepaid mobile telephony service, including unlimited voice, text, and data service, except the bill would authorize the commission to establish a sunset date for the foster youth program. program upon specified conditions being satisfied. The bill would make eligible for the foster youth program current and former foster youth, 13 to 26 years of age, inclusive, residing in California. The bill would authorize the commission to adjust the support amounts, including for inflation, for increased data or hotspots needed for distance learning and for other academic or employment needs and to expand the program to foster youth younger than 13 years of age if it determines expansion is merited and within program funding levels. The bill would authorize the commission to select one or more third-party administrators to administer the foster youth program and to determine those mobile telephony service providers that will provide service for the program.
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 a commission action 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.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 881 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

881.
 (a) Except as specified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (d), the commission, as part of a new or existing proceeding, shall continue the foster youth program, initiated as the iFoster pilot program by commission Decision 19-04-021 (April 25, 2019) Decision Authorizing Pilot Programs of Boost Mobile, Inc. and iFoster, Inc. in the California Lifeline Program, as an element of the lifeline program to provide eligible foster youth with a smartphone and monthly prepaid mobile telephony service, including unlimited voice, text, and data service.
(b) (1) Current and former foster youth, 13 to 26 years of age, inclusive, residing in California shall be eligible for the foster youth program. A former foster youth, 21 to 26 years of age, inclusive, is eligible for the foster youth program if that applicant was in foster care on or after their 13th birthday.
(2) The commission may adjust the lifeline support amounts, including for inflation, for increased data or hotspots needed for distance learning and for other academic or employment needs, and may expand eligibility for the foster youth program to foster youth younger than 13 years of age if it determines such expansion is merited and within program funding levels.
(c) (1) The commission may select one or more third-party administrators to administer the foster youth program, partner with local government agencies, including county child welfare directors, educate consumers about the program, assist consumers in completing the program application, determine a consumer’s eligibility for the program, serve as a distribution channel for smartphone devices and services, provide technical support for consumers in the program, and assist in the evaluation and improvement of the program.
(2) The commission may establish an appeals process for applicants who are denied eligibility for the foster youth program.
(3) The commission may determine the mobile telephony service providers that will provide service for the foster youth program.
(d) (1) The commission may waive any rule generally applicable to the lifeline program, including commission General Order 153, for the foster youth program.
(2) The commission may adopt special rules and requirements applicable to the foster youth program that are not generally applicable to the lifeline program, including reporting requirements and rules to protect privacy and youth welfare.
(3) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the commission may establish a sunset date for the foster youth program. program upon all of the following conditions being satisfied:
(A) Commission Rulemaking 20-02-008 (February 27, 2020) Rulemaking to Update the California Lifeline Program has been closed.
(B) The commission has ensured that each eligible foster youth enrolled in the foster youth program will have access to equivalent benefits upon the conclusion of the foster youth program.
(C) The commission has expanded eligibility criteria for the lifeline telephone service program to include those foster youths otherwise eligible for the foster youth program.

SEC. 2.

 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.

SEC. 3.

 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:
The existing iFoster pilot program, which provides needed communications tools to at-risk youth, is set to expire before the end of 2021 and in order to prevent an interruption to the program, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.