Legislature mulls 4 digital equity bills
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Four bills making their way through the California Assembly and Senate would address various aspects of digital fairness, from codifying what it means for the state and its residents to leveling the playing field in the world. education and even in technology itself. Here are the latest progress of these proposed laws:
- Assembly Bill 2750, by Assemblywoman Mia Bonta, D-Oakland, would impose additional duties on the California Department of Technology (CDT). The bill would require CDT to work with residents, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and the California Broadband Council to create a state digital equity plan. The bill would require this plan to include “identifying barriers to digital equity faced by specific populations, as intended, and measurable goals for achieving digital equity among those populations.” The bill also requires CDT to seek all available federal funding to develop and roll out the plan. The bill was referred to the Assembly Committees on Communications and Transmission and on Privacy and Consumer Protection. Hearing dates have not yet been set.
- State Senate Bill 876, by State Sen. Josh Becker, D-San Mateo, would allocate $18 million from the state’s general fund to the California Department of Education (CDE) at the fiscal year 2022-23 to establish the Digital Education Equity Program (DEEP), which the department would administer as a grants program to, among other things, support “the planned implementation of educational technology by all county offices of education”. According to the bill, DEEP would provide technical support and professional development to teachers in school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools on the implementation of this technology; and, by January 31, 2023, the CDE should work with the Executive Director of the State Council to authorize grants of up to three years to pay county offices of education that create development plans. educational technology. DEEP should also provide program guidelines and county education office funding criteria in these cases. The bill would also allocate $3 million from the General Fund to CDE in fiscal year 2022-23 to create the Office of Educational Technology and Digital Equity, “with sufficient staff to administer the provisions of the bill. of law”. It would also authorize the state superintendent of education to provide “centralized statewide educational technology services that meet locally defined needs, as specified.” The superintendent should report in writing annually to the state council and legislature on funds expended and services provided. The bill has been referred to the California Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations, but no hearing date has been set.
- AB 2753, of Assemblyman Eloise Reyes, D-San Bernardino, would create a digital equity bill of rights, declaring that it is state policy to ensure digital equity for all residents from California; that residents have the right to broadband “that meets specific requirements”; and that “broadband Internet subscribers have equal access to broadband Internet service”. The bill would require the CPUC to adopt rules to facilitate equal access to broadband by January 1, 2025, and would require that any rules it adopts “promote equal access to a service robust broadband Internet by prohibiting discrimination in deployment”. The CPUC would also be required to create “model policies and best practices” that local governments can use to ensure internet service providers do not digitally discriminate, and would require the review of the public complaints process. of the CPUC to accept complaints related to digital discrimination. The Bill clarifies that under current law, violation of the Public Utilities Act is a crime – and because the Act would codify the provisions of this Bill, if passed, violation of the provisions of this bill would be a crime. The bill has been referred to the Assembly’s Communications and Transport Committee, where it is due for consideration at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
- SB 1325, by State Senator Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, would create the Techquity Innovation Program, to be administered by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), to fund grants or investments “upon appropriation by the Legislature,” to advance “equity in tech entrepreneurship in California and support underserved, action-driven entrepreneurs and business owners in socio-disadvantaged geographies -economical or who have limited venture capital funding opportunities.” The bill would also create the California Techquity Innovation Program Fund to support the program — although how and to what extent it would fund the program is not specified. According to bill, GO-Biz would be empowered to fund competitive grants, including for “technology accelerators and incubators that support tech companies run by minorities, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people”; for “underrepresented venture capitalists and underserved entrepreneurs” developing state-based economic opportunities; and for “regional workforce development partnerships that advance equity in technology employment”. The bill is scheduled for consideration at 10 a.m. Monday by Senate appropriations.