Save the Net Update: Federal Net Neutrality Legislation
House and Senate Democratic leaders held a press conference on April 10th, chaired by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Capitol Hill to unveil legislation aimed at restoring net neutrality rules established in 2015 which were repealed by the FCC in December 2017. Pelosi noted that 86 percent of Americans oppose this assault on net neutrality. Among the speakers at the press conference were Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Speaker Pelosi noted that California is the first State to have passed its own (CUE supported) legislation to restore net neutrality, SB 822, by CA Senator Scott Wiener which she actively supported. Nancy Pelosi’s remarks at the press event can be found here.
Save the Net House Bill Passed: Congressman, Mike Doyle introduced the Save the Internet Act (H.R. 1644) on March 8th, which would reverse the FCC’s repeal of critical net neutrality protections in late 2017 by codifying the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. According to Congresswoman Eshoo, a co-author of HR 1644, the bill would reinstate provisions to prohibit internet service providers from the blocking or throttling of web content, or from selling “fast lanes” to content companies for special and speedier access to consumers. The legislation would also return the FCC with authority to crack down on instances when internet providers discriminate in the way that they handle web traffic. The Save the Internet Act bill with updates can be found here. After a long debate and with 12 amendments, HR 1644 passed the House 232 to 190 on April 10.
Save the Net Senate Bill Introduced: The bill has moved to the U.S. Senate as S.682, where it will face major challenges and require much advocacy by its supporters. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for consideration with 45 co-sponsors.
The Consortium on School Networking submitted a support letter for the CUE resolution, AJR 7, to save net neutrality, E-Rate, and Life Line. CoSN is publically advocate supporting HR1644 and now for S.682. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Fight for the Future, BattleForTheNet, and many others are advocating support of S.682. Thirty-four states introduced 120 bills and resolutions regarding net neutrality in the 2018 legislative session. Five states, including California, have enacted legislation or adopted resolutions.
H.R. 1328, Access Broadband Act: The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill originally co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-New York, that would help expand broadband, as well as create a simpler process to access federal broadband resources and bring better coordination to federal efforts to expand broadband access in underserved areas. The Access Broadband Act was adopted by unanimous voice vote after being introduced by Tonko and Republican U.S. Rep. Susan W. Brooks of Indiana. According to Tonko, about 25 percent of all school districts in the country and about 25 percent of rural residents nationwide lack broadband internet and stated that:
“Reliable broadband internet access is an integral part of our American economy and modern way of life. Whether for students doing homework, job-seekers training for a new career, doctors reading a medical scan or entrepreneurs starting a small business, we need to make sure that nobody is being left behind.”
The bill would establish a federal Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth that would hold regional workshops on best practices and access strategies, consult with other agencies to develop a universal application for broadband access assistance, regardless of the federal agency involved, and coordinate among the FCC, Rural Utility Service of the Department of Agriculture and other internet support providers.
- Status: Passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a companion bill (S.1167) introduced in the Senate.
Digital Equity Act of 2019. Introduced by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) The Digital Equity Act of 2019 S.1167 would authorize more than $1 billion in Federal grant funding over the next five years to support digital inclusion programs throughout U.S. states and territories. Senator Murray’s groundbreaking bill would create two major Federal grant programs, operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to promote digital equity nationwide. The proposed funding for each program is $125 million per year for five years — a total of up to $1.25 billion. One program would be carried out through state governments, with funding allocated by formula, and would incorporate state-by-state digital equity planning followed by implementation grants to qualifying programs.
- Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Educational Broadband Service (EBS). Over 800 public interest, education and commercial signatories emphasize that keeping EBS is vital to close the homework gap. As of May 8, 2019, 830 signatories representing educational institutions, rural operators, public libraries, nonprofit organizations, anchor institutions, individuals and public interest groups from 48 states and the District of Columbia united in petitioning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure Educational Broadband Service (EBS) continues to serve its intended educational and public interest purposes. EBS is a critical tool for addressing the “homework gap,” or the systematic inequality arising from a student’s inability to access the Internet to complete homework. In 2015, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 80 percent of eighth-graders used a computer for schoolwork on a weekday, though 7 million American students still lack home Internet access. Today, educators use EBS to combat the digital divide and homework gap by building their own broadband networks, creating mobile hotspot lending programs, and providing Wi-Fi on school buses.
- Comment: The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and the Consortium on School Networking (CoSN) are members of a coalition that is actively encouraging the FCC to recognize the potential of EBS to close persistent broadband connectivity gaps and support digital learning for all students both on and off campus.
ESSA Title-IV, Part A with proposed increase passes the House. The Title IV-A Coalition has been strongly advocating for the House’s FY 2020 LHHS-Ed appropriations bill, which now includes $1.32 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program, authorized under Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Title IV-A Coalition is extremely grateful to the House LHHS-Education Subcommittee for the proposed $1.32 billion, an increase of $150 million over the enacted FY19 level, for the bipartisan Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant program. The Coalition includes CoSN, ISTE, SETDA, and others. This budget increase will need to be heard and approved the Senate and then the POTUS.
- Comment: On April 10th, CUE participated the EdTech Advocacy and Policy Summit, co-sponsored by ISTE, CoSN, and SETDA which focused on ESSA Title-IV, Part A. CUE was represented by John Cradler, Ruthmary Cradler as well as Andrea Bennet who represented CETPA. Together, we talked to members of Congress about the need to increase ESSA funding as well as to support the Save the Net Act.
Update on the CUE-Initiated Educational Technology Resolution, ACR 268
On August 30, 2018, Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 268, by Assembly Members Tony Thurmond (now State Superintendent of Public Instruction), Kevin Mullin, and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, passed by the State Assembly and Senate. ACR 268 was Chaptered September 11, 2018 as Resolution Chapter 221, Statutes of 2018. ACR 268 was initiated by Computer Using Educators (CUE) with support from other California education entities.
The Resolution is clear evidence that the State Legislature has made a formal commitment to making educational technology support and access a major priority. We are collaborating with a representative of the Governor, the Policy Advisor to the SSPI, a Member of the State Board of Education (SBE), the Director of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), the CEO of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF), the Napa COE Superintendent and LAC member, and CDE staff, to discuss next steps for implementing the ACR 268 recommendations. For more details about ACR 268 and other bills, click here. If you have specific questions about ACR 268 contact John Cradler at email@example.com
New California Bills
The following bills were introduced in the California Legislature in January for the 2019 Legislative session. These bills are reported if they generally relate to the CUE Advocacy Platform. Most bills will be amended several times as they pass through various committees. To review all bills being introduced this session click here.
AB 52, Assembly Member Mark Berman, Computer science strategic implementation plan. Existing law, until July 31, 2020, requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene a computer science strategic implementation advisory panel with a specified membership to develop and submit recommendations for a computer science strategic implementation plan to the Superintendent, the State Board of Education, and the Legislature. This bill would require the computer science strategic implementation plan to be updated every 7 years. The bill also would make these provisions apply indefinitely.
- Status: Passed Assembly Education Committee, Ayes: 6; Noes: 0; Abstain: 0;
AB 578, Assembly Member, Kevin Mullin. The California STEM Teaching Pathway Act of 2019. This bill would establish the California STEM Teaching Pathway for purposes of recruiting, preparing, supporting, and retaining qualified science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals, including military veterans, as mathematics, science, engineering, and computer science teachers in California. The bill would appropriate $2,000,000 from the General Fund to the State Department of Education for the 2019–20 fiscal year for purposes of the bill, to be allocated as a one-time grant to a postsecondary educational institution, nonprofit public benefit corporation, county office of education, or a partnership of multiple organizations of these types.
- Status: Assigned to Assembly Education Committee, Ayes: 7; Noes: 0; Abstain 0
AB 1699, Assembly Member, Marc Levine. Mobile Internet Service Providers and Public Safety. This bill would prohibit a mobile internet service provider from impairing or degrading the lawful internet traffic of its public safety customer accounts, subject to reasonable network management, during a state of emergency. The Legislature finds and declares that this act is adopted pursuant to the police power granted to the State of California under the United States Constitution and cannot be preempted by the Federal Communications Commission. This act is adopted to protect and promote the safety, life, public health, public convenience, general prosperity, and well-being of society, and the welfare of the state’s population and economy. This act to be implemented by the PUC, ensures police and emergency services personnel have access to all of the resources necessary for them to operate effectively during a state of emergency.
- Comment: This bill establishes net neutrality rules to internet access for emergency situations such as the Mendocino fire when the internet provider decreased data connection, severely interfering with the fire departments ability to function effectively. However, it seems that this could also be applied to education as well when there is an emergency situation at a school site. AB 1336, by Assembly Member Gonzales, removes the authority of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to regulate internet providers which would make it impossible to be able to implement the provisions of AB 1699 which is adding a new regulation for the PUC to enforce.
- Status: Assembly Communications and Conveyance: Ayes: 12: Noes: 0; Abstain: 1
AB 1366, Assembly Member, Lorena Gonzalez. Voice over Internet Protocol and Internet Protocol enabled communications services. This bill would require that no department, agency, commission, or political subdivision of the state, including the PUC, shall enact, adopt, or enforce any law, rule, regulation, ordinance, standard, order, or other provision having the force or effect of law, that regulates VoIP or other IP enabled service,
- Comment: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) states that this bill abandons oversight over broadband band monopolies. The recently introduced A.B. 1366 mirrors the FCC’s abandonment of consumers with one exception—California fought to establish its own net neutrality rules under S.B. 822 passed last year. Apart from that, A.B. 1366 removes any semblance of the state promoting competition for broadband access through its state regulator, the California Public Utility Commission (the state version of an FCC). Instead, it appears to just hope that our cable monopolies will be benevolent.
- Status: Assigned to Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee, Ayes: 13; Noes: 0; Abstain: 5;
SB 2, Senators Glazer and Allen, Statewide Longitudinal Student-Database. This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to establish the Statewide Longitudinal Student-Database to collect and store data regarding individual students as they matriculate through P–20, as defined, and into the workforce. The bill would require the commission to convene a review committee for purposes of advising the commission on the establishment, implementation, funding, and ongoing administration of the database. The bill would express the intent of the Legislature that the development of the database be substantially completed on or before July 1, 2022. The bill would prohibit the commission from implementing the database if there is a determination, after consultation with the review committee, that the commission is unable to obtain necessary, reliable, and relevant data or protect individual privacy rights and confidentiality of the data.
- Status: Senate Appropriations Committee: Ayes: 6; Noes: 0; Abstain: 0
AB 1409, Assembly Member, Ed Chau. Digital Divide Grant Program. The bill would require the Public Utilities Commission to implement the Digital Divide Grant Program upon the commission projecting an account balance of $500,000 in the following calendar year. The bill would authorize those grants to also be awarded to fund the use of broadband services funded through the fund for homework gap projects and to fund the installation of broadband, broadband service, equipment, administrative implementation, and maintenance for homework gap projects. The bill would define “homework gap projects” as projects that provide elementary and high school pupils with after-school access to broadband, as specified. The bill would authorize digital divide pilot project grants for community technology programs involved in activities that include homework gap projects to support the goal of closing the digital divide.
- Status: Assigned to Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee: Ayes 12; Noes: 0; Abstain: 1.
AB 1303, Assembly Member, O’Donnell. California Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program: Strong Workforce Program. This bill specifies that, upon appropriation by the Legislature, $450,000,000 shall be made available for the California Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) Program to CDE for the 2018–19 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter. The bill would require the Superintendent to also ensure a level of professional staffing within the department dedicated to career technical education, sufficient to effectively administer the program and other federal and state career technical education programs, as specified. The bill would add regional occupational centers or programs operated by county offices of education (COEs) to the entities authorized to be grant recipients under the program and, commencing with the 2019-20 fiscal year, reduce the required match from a grant recipient to a 1:1 match.
- Status: Assigned to Assembly Education Committee: Ayes 12; Noes: 0.
AB 39 Assembly Members, Muratsuchi and McCarty. Local control funding formula funding increase. This bill would specify new, higher base grant amounts for the 2019–20 fiscal year, which would also increase the supplemental and concentration grant amounts and result in various other changes to funding calculations for purposes of the local control funding formula. This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to increase the base grants to amounts equal to the national average per-pupil funding level, as provided. The bill would express the intent of the Legislature to apply a cost-of-living adjustment above the specified cost-of-living adjustment described above for purposes of certain funding provisions.
- Comment: ACSA is advocating amendments to add new targets for LCFF funding. An example could be to set aside funding the use of technology to support the overall Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).
- Status: Assigned to Assembly Appropriations Committee: Ayes 17; Noes 1.
SB 37, Assembly Member, Nancy Skinner. Corporate tax rates. This bill would increase the corporate income tax rate of the largest, most profitable corporations, and progressively increase the corporate tax rates on companies with large disparities between CEO pay and the pay of the average employee of the company. The bill would deposit the revenues derived from this tax into the General Fund, as specified, and would require those revenues to be used to offset the fiscal impact of any child tax credit and, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to support the expansions or improvements to early childhood programs and other educational programs.
- Status: Senate Rules Committee: Not yet voted on.
CUE Advocacy Strategy: As opportunities arise, CUE continues to be proactive in the development, co-development, sponsorship, and support of state and Federal legislation and resolutions which are consistent with the CUE Legislative Advocacy Platform. The CUE Legislative Advocacy Committee (LAC) meets periodically to take positions on relevant bills, resolutions, policies, and other related actions suggested by the CUE Legislative Consultant, Board Members, staff, and Committee members. Anyone who is interested in being involved in supporting the CUE advocacy effort should contact Mary Kopp, CUE Senior Program Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org or John Cradler, email@example.com For earlier Legislative Updates, click here.
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