Broadband Bills Pass Out of California Legislature

June 02, 2021
Sacramento, Calif. – On June 2nd, 2021 the California Senate passed Senator Lena A. Gonzalez’s (D-Long Beach) Senate Bill 4, the Broadband for All Act, that will help close the digital divide by securing funding for a broadband deployment state grant program administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The bill would also ensure that broadband infrastructure deployment projects focus on unserved and underserved areas throughout the state to bring reliable, high-speed internet access to communities that lack connectivity the most. Similar efforts spearheaded by Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry to improve broadband access were also successful today via the approval of Assembly Bill 14, the Internet for All Act. Now Senate Bill 4 and Assembly Bill 14 are advancing from their house of origin to the second house to be heard in their respective policy committees.
 
"I am very pleased to share that the Broadband for All Act has passed today in the California Senate. This is an important milestone for the bill’s advancement, and I am looking forward to continuing efforts to move this critical legislation forward as it goes into the Assembly for a vote,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important addressing the digital divide is and just how profoundly broadband inequity can impact people’s lives before, during and after the pandemic. Low-income communities of color suffer the most as they lose out on employment opportunities, digital skill-building, remote education, telehealth services and so much more. We must stop talking about the digital divide and start acting through legislation. That is why I am also very pleased to know that Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry’s Assembly Bill 14, the Internet for All Act was also successful today. Both these victories are a very promising sign that California will take bold action this year to get closer to achieving Digital Equity.”
 
"Even before the pandemic, which shone a glaring light on Californians’ lack of reliable, affordable internet services, we knew access to the internet is an essential requirement for participating in the promise of today’s online world," said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). "With the passage of AB 14 and SB 4 from our respective houses today, the effort to offer all Californians the access they need to internet-based services like Telehealth, the digital economy, and education and job-training is closer to becoming a reality.  The California of today cannot lead our people into the future with the technology of the past.  In partnership with Senator Gonzalez and our many colleagues in the Legislature, we can provide that future for every home and business in our State."
 
“Broadband internet access isn’t a luxury. It is a necessity at all times, not just during the pandemic; yet millions of Californians, predominantly Black, Latino, Native American, and rural, lack reliable internet access, putting them and their children at a substantial disadvantage in education, healthcare access, and civic engagement,” said Max Arias, Executive Director of SEIU Local 99 and Executive Board member of SEIU California. The “digital divide” is an increasingly critical aspect of our deep social and economic divide and until we solve it we will be allowing California’s shining achievements in technology to function as yet another tool to enforce an unequal status quo. All Californians deserve a 21-st century infrastructure system, and we encourage the California Legislature to support that vision as well.”  
 
“Coupled with this year's budget windfall, SB 4 and AB 14 provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect many of California’s underserved urban and rural communities to broadband and all of its benefits,” said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, “Today’s votes are huge steps in that direction and we applaud Senator Gonzalez and Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry for their unyielding efforts.”  
 
“SB 4 will make necessary investments in delivering universal 21st century access while recruiting the help of local governments to deliver fiber broadband access,” said Ernesto Falcon, Senior Legislative Counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The pandemic has shown conclusively that the broadband access market is failing to meet the needs of too many people and it is our hope that broadband legislation will move this year to the Governor’s desk so we can begin building a better future for all Californians.”
 
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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.
 
Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento. Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry resides in Winters a block from her childhood home with her longtime partner, Larry Harris, and has two grown daughters and a stepson.
 
SEIU California represents 700,000 workers in California, including school workers, janitors, healthcare and long-term care workers, and city, county, and state workers. We are committed to achieving racial and economic justice and opportunities to thrive for all working people in California.
 
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. Learn more at commonsense.org.
 
Ernesto Falcon represents EFF’s advocacy, on behalf of its members and all consumers, for a free and open Internet before state legislatures and Congress. Ernesto’s work includes pushing the state of California to pass the strongest net neutrality law in the country in response to federal repeal efforts, as well as leading EFF's research and advocacy to promote universally available, affordable, and competitive fiber broadband networks.