Local control over wireless permits, CPUC management on the table as California legislature returns

17 August 2015 by Steve Blum
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The California legislature is back from its summer vacation today. Four weeks are left in the floor schedule: both houses are supposed to wrap up debate and voting for the year by 11 September 2015. Several bills with implications for telecommunications policy are still in the mix, including…

  • Assembly bill 57 – requires local agencies to meet federal “shot clock” requirements for processing permit applications for cell sites and other wireless broadband projects.
  • Assembly bill 806 – allows the installation of antennae and wireless nodes on overhead utility lines, more or less without local approval.
  • Assembly bill 1262 – takes $5 million from the California Advanced Services Fund broadband infrastructure loan account and gives it to regional broadband consortia. That would leave about $5 million still available for loans.
  • Senate bill 660 – takes much day to day executive authority over California Public Utilities Commission staff away from the president and gives it to commissioners, either acting all together or via committees of two. It also tightens the rules regarding closed-door meetings with commissioners and CPUC staff, and makes other administrative changes.

AB 57 and AB 806 are with the senate’s governance and finance committee; SB 660 is in the assembly’s utilities and commerce committee. All have been amended, which means all still need approval from both the full senate and full assembly. AB 1262 is nearly through the process and is just awaiting final approval from the full senate, which could come as soon as today.

Odd things can happen as the clock ticks down in Sacramento, so nothing is a sure bet. A bill on the verge of passage can be left to wither away, while another that seems hopelessly stalled can rocket through – with substantial and unexpected changes – at the last minute. After that, it’s up to the governor.