Clock ticking down on California broadband policy initiatives

11 September 2013 by Steve Blum
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High noon is nearer than it seems.

Of all the ancient traditions and lofty values of the California legislature, few have the moral imperative of the three day weekend. Although this Friday is a work day – the end of session deadline – on the official calendar, leaders in both the California senate and assembly want to wrap up business by tomorrow evening.

So today is critical to efforts to top up the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), and sorta expand eligibility for broadband infrastructure construction subsidies to independent Internet service providers and cities.

Senate bill 740 is the linchpin. If two-thirds of senators and assembly members agree, it’ll pump an extra $90 million into CASF. It’s been ready for a floor vote in the assembly since Monday, but it’s ranked low on the daily priority list. Yesterday, it came within a handful of bills of being called for a vote, but was put aside as assembly members cleared the deck for their customary 4 p.m. quitting time.

It was skipped over on previous days. Lining up the required two-thirds majority vote has always been a challenge, but yesterday it was looking like there was enough support amongst assembly members.

Assembly bill 1299, which sends $25 million from CASF towards broadband facilities and marketing in public housing projects and is legislatively linked to SB 740, was similarly left hanging in the senate.

Both bills are again scheduled to be considered today, but both are on the second half of the agenda, so there are no guarantees.

To complete the procrastination trifecta, Santa Cruz County supervisors decided to delay consideration of a wide ranging package of broadband deployment policies yesterday. The vote has been put off until 1 October 2013.