Senator Lena Gonzalez’s Broadband for All Act Passes out of Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee

April 15, 2021
Sacramento, Calif. – Today, SB 4 the Broadband for All Act by Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach) passed out of the Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee. The Broadband for All Act will secure continuous funding for the California Advanced Services Fund, a state-administered program that provides grants for the deployment of broadband infrastructure. The bill will implement critical reforms within the program to promote 21st century future proof infrastructure that can support high internet speeds, while ensuring that low-income, rural, and urban communities of color who are most impacted by the digital divide are eligible to apply for grants.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic made clear that the digital divide excludes vulnerable communities from many opportunities and resources online that are needed for everyday life. Whether it be students doing homework outside of fast-food restaurants, or medically fragile individuals who can’t access services through tele-health care, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the inequality in access to broadband that has existed in our state for years.
 
“Broadband for All is a NECESSITY and we must ensure that all Californians have access to high-speed internet for their everyday needs. The digital divide has devastating impacts on our most vulnerable communities, and we cannot wait any longer to address this issue,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Due to COVID-19, students without access to the internet are falling behind in school, patients are missing out on critical, safe, contactless health-care options online and jobseekers lose out on job-postings, economic relief information and important resources. It is time to close the digital divide by providing the funding necessary to deploy broadband infrastructure in communities that need it the most and by empowering and enabling local governments and nonprofits to apply for these funds as well. I am not giving up until we reach a solution and I am hopeful this year will finally mark the beginning of a more equitable future with Broadband for All.”  
 
With today’s successful passage of the Broadband for All Act and over 100 organizations currently in support, the proposed legislation is moving forward strongly and with great promise.
 
“EFF is proud to co-sponsor SB 4, which takes much-needed steps to eliminate the digital divide in California,” said Ernesto Falcon, Senior Legislative Counsel, Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Current law has failed to meet this challenge, at a time when it has never been more important to connect all Californians. Broadband is a service as essential as water and electricity making it more critical than ever to rethink the status quo and invest in long-term solutions that will address the multiple emergencies facing our state.”
 
"Common Sense is thrilled to see this necessary bill move forward through the Legislative process," said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. "We are also focused on advocating for the funding necessary to implement SB4."  
 
“The lack of access to the internet magnifies pre-existing socioeconomic disparities and cements exclusion. SB 4 will ensure that the digital divide doesn't become the new face of inequality," said Karla Faucett, President of SEIU Local 1021's Sacramento City Unified School District Chapter and Chair of the Union's Education Industry.
 
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Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her husband Adam and three sons.
 
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. EFF's mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world.
 
Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of all kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century.
 
SEIU California is our statewide political voice, dedicated to building a better California by fighting for policies and candidates who benefit working families and advance the issues we care about. Their mission is to set statewide priorities and exercise power to increase economic fairness for working people, ensure high quality services and create a well-funded, equitable, just and prosperous California.