The California assembly will vote on funding broadband infrastructure

by Steve Blum • , , , , , ,

Legislative leadership lines up behind broadband.

Californian broadband subsidies are back on track and heading, it seems to a vote by the full assembly. Big thanks to Elizabeth Munguia in senator Alex Padilla’s office for the news that the assembly leadership released senate bill 740 from the appropriations committee’s suspense file, which puts it in play for the final, hectic two weeks of the legislature’s current session.

SB 740 would add $90 million to the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) and make it possible – although maybe not practical – for independent Internet service providers and cities to apply for grants and loans to build out broadband infrastructure. Assuming a companion measure, assembly bill 1299 moves forward too, $70 million would be added to the broadband infrastructure grant kitty and $25 million would go towards broadband facilities and marketing in public housing projects, with the $5 million difference being made up via the lesser used infrastructure loan fund.

Looking ahead to the next two weeks, SB 740 needs to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the assembly, which is by no means guaranteed, then it goes back to the senate, which has to agree to recent amendments. The senate voted nearly unanimously to back it earlier this year, but that was before a nasty fight with cable lobbyists erupted, forcing the changes.

Assuming it moves all the way through the process before the 13 September 2013 deadline, it would then go to Governor Brown’s desk. He’d have a month to decide whether or not to veto it.

Update: AB 1299 made it out of the senate appropriations committee’s suspense file too, and will head to a vote of the full senate. If approved there (it only needs a majority vote to make it), it’ll go back to the assembly for concurrence in the senate’s amendments.