Effort builds to revive California broadband subsidy legislation

3 July 2013 by Steve Blum
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I’m not dead yet. I’m getting better.

A proposal to extend funding and eligibility for broadband infrastructure subsidies might get a second chance in the California assembly. Senate bill 740 failed to get enough “yes” votes in the assembly utilities and commerce committee on Monday. Contrary to what was thought at time, there is enough slack in the legislative schedule to take another try at getting the committee’s approval.

The actual deadline for the utilities and commerce committee to send SB 740 on its way to be considered by the full assembly is 16 August 2013. The assembly adjourned today for its month long summer recess, and is scheduled to return to business on 5 August. That gives members two full working weeks to finish up committee work for the year.

Senator Alex Padilla (D – Los Angeles) sponsored SB 740, and successfully guided it through the California senate in May. Assuming the assembly utilities and commerce committee meets again as expected, he will ask members to reconsider the bill.

If he is to succeed, something has to change. There will a considerable effort made by broadband advocates, including the California Emerging Technology Fund and regional broadband consortia to counteract the distorted and untrue claims made by cable lobbyists at the committee hearing and during an intensive, one-on-one campaign in the weeks leading up to it.

It’s also possible that parts of the bill will be rewritten to address some of the cable industry’s concerns, although Padilla already offered to make some on the spot changes during the committee hearing. Lobbyists for Comcast and the California Cable and Telecommunications Association ignored him then and, with a win already under their belts, they have even less incentive to negotiate now.