Californian telecoms policy decisions slide out of public view in Sacramento

4 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Affairs of state.

Several broadband-related bills pending in the California senate were sent to the suspense file by the appropriations committee this week. That’s a standard maneuver that keeps them on ice until near the end of August when the session ends. At that point, a small group of legislative leaders will decide which will move forward and which will not.

A proposal to prevent lifeline telephone customers from switching carriers is one of the bills that’s on hold. Assembly bill 2570 was amended just before legislators took their month long summer break and now says that if low income lifeline subscribers drop a plan, they have to wait two months before being able to claim their existing subsidy with another carrier. Telephone companies – like any company with a subscription-based business model – hate churn and love anything that helps lock down customers. The bill’s author, assemblyman Bill Quirk (D – Hayward), has a history of carrying one-sided bills for telcos and this one is no different.

Aside from assembly bill 1549, which would leverage Caltrans’ existing conduit and future road construction for broadband purposes, the other telecoms-related bills relegated to the senate suspense file are relatively minor. At this point. AB 1651 would require the California Public Utilities Commission to post contract information on the web. AB 2120 allows school districts to claim reimbursement for their lobbying efforts at the CPUC. The money usually comes from utilities companies who do business there – it’s called intervenor compensation – who, in turn, pass the costs along to their customers.