The authoritative news source for communications regulation

Calif. Assembly Panel OKs Video, Permit, Lifeline Bills

The California Assembly Communications Committee cleared amended bills including on video franchising, local broadband permits and low-income benefits at a webcast hearing Wednesday. Also, the committee unanimously passed a consent agenda including bills on 911 public education (AB-296) and grants…

Start A Trial
for emergency communications on fairgrounds (AB-415). The committee voted 10-2 to send to the Appropriations Committee a bill (AB-41) aimed at tightening digital equity requirements in the state’s video franchise law. Sponsor Chris Holden (D), who chairs the Appropriations panel, said the 2006 Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act approach of self-regulation through competition failed to spread services to everyone within franchise areas. The California Broadband & Video Association thinks the proposed replacement, the Digital Equity in Video Franchising Act, would be “generally unfeasible,” said Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy Director Amanda Gualderama. The state cable association was joined by USTelecom in opposition. The Communications Committee voted 13-0 for AB-965, which would set a 60-day shot clock for local governments to decide broadband permit applications or have them deemed granted. It will go to the Local Government Committee next. Supporters included Crown Castle, CTIA, USTelecom and the Wireless Infrastructure Association. But the California Municipal Utilities Association raised concerns it duplicates previous rules including the FCC’s small-cells order. The Assembly panel voted 13-0 for AB-1231 to allow low-income consumers to stack benefits from California LifeLine, federal Lifeline and the affordable connectivity program. It goes next to Appropriations. "The bill is needed because the CPUC has prohibited Californian consumers from combining their California LifeLine and ACP benefits to maximize the amount of data they receive,” said TruConnect Chief Compliance Officer Danielle Perry, who is also a National Lifeline Association board member. The Utility Reform Network worries the bill doesn’t provide enough accountability on providers, said TURN lobbyist Ignacio Hernandez: Lawmakers should strengthen it or allow the CPUC to make rules. The commission already has an open proceeding on the issue, he noted. Supporting AB-1231, Communications Committee Chair Tasha Boerner Horvath (D) said she thinks the CPUC has overly restricted access for low-income people.