Where in the world is Miguel Santiago?

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The legislative clock is ticking down in Sacramento, and there’s been no action on either senate bill 822 or 460. Those are the Siamese twin bills that would restore network neutrality rules in California.

Both are sitting in the assembly’s communications and conveyances committee. The chair, assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D – Los Angeles), hasn’t scheduled a meeting and his staff hasn’t prepared the obligatory analysis yet, despite a Friday deadline for committee action.

Both bills were trashed in Santiago’s committee in June. He eviscerated SB 822, as senator Scott Wiener (D – San Francisco), the bill’s author, put it at the time. Senator Kevin de Leon (D – Los Angeles), who’s carrying SB 460, withdrew it before Santiago could work his magic.

He was properly slammed for his actions. Assisted by two of his fellow committee members – assemblymen Eduardo Garcia (D – Imperial) and Evan Low (D – Santa Clara) – Santiago faithfully does the work that AT&T, Frontier Communications, Comcast, Charter Communications and other big incumbents assign him.

Usually, his service to telco and cable interests goes unnoticed. The geeky details of telecoms policy doesn’t attract general media coverage, and it’s a safe bet that his, or anyone else’s, constituents have more pressing concerns, like jobs, schools, housing prices or public safety.

But net neutrality is different. Public reaction and party politics forced Santiago to back down. New versions of SB 822 and SB 460 were filed last week, with Santiago listed as a co-author, and were sent back to Santiago’s committee for a formal blessing.

Both bills need to pass for either to take effect. Friday is the deadline for Santiago’s committee and the assembly appropriations committee to act. Which in practice means Thursday because legislators like three day weekends.

Missing the deadline doesn’t mean certain death. But it does mean more parliamentary maneuvers will be necessary, which also opens up more windows of opportunities for telco and cable lobbyists to press more cash into legislators’ hands their case as the real deadline – 31 August 2018 – approaches and attention spans shorten.