Net neutrality wins California assembly vote, now it’s on to the senate

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Senate bill 822 was approved on a lopsided vote in the California assembly yesterday. The tally was 61 ayes, 18 noes, 1 abstention. All democrats and five republicans voted aye; the noes and the abstention (which has the same effect as a no) were all republicans.

The bill, authored by senator Scott Weiner (D – San Francisco) reinstates network neutrality regulations in California: no blocking, throttling, paid prioritisation and non-neutral zero rating of consumer broadband service, both within an Internet service provider’s network and at the point of connection to other networks. (Those inter-network connections are why it’s called the Internet and why it works the way it does).

The California senate has until midnight tonight to agree to the changes made in the assembly, and send SB 822 on to governor Jerry Brown for his consideration.

The second net neutrality bill – SB 460 by senator Kevin de Leon (D – Los Angeles) – It has to be approved by the assembly before going to the senate for concurrence as well. It can’t be voted on until sometime after 2 p.m. today.

The California constitution requires bill language to be publicly posted for 72 hours before any final vote, and SB 460 was amended on Tuesday. The changes makes it a much less effective bill. Before assembly leaders – i.e. the appropriations committee – carved it up, it would have required state and local agencies to only buy broadband service from ISPs that follow California’s net neutrality rules. Now, that requirement only applies to contracts worth $100,000 or more, and there are big loopholes.

SB 460 is important because it’s much less vulnerable to court challenges than SB 822. Hobbling it counts as a win for telecoms lobbyists, who continue to try to kill both bills. So far though, public support for net neutrality has it on a winning track. We’ll know for sure tonight.