- John Ferrera
- Chief of Staff
SACRAMENTO, CA – Assembly Bill (AB) 14, authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), and Senate Bill (SB) 4, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), make their way to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk after passing out of the Assembly with a 56-4 vote and the Senate with a 28-8 vote. AB 14 and SB 4 revolutionize the State’s broadband deployment program under the California Advanced Services Program, and provide increased funding to bring California into the technological 21st Century.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the massive gaps in internet connectivity at sufficient speeds for too many Californians. As more Californians have struggled to conduct distance learning, virtual work, access telehealth services, and safeguard small business participation in the virtual marketplace, the need to connect the State at sufficient speeds with adaptable technology has reached crisis proportion.
“Internet connectivity is a basic necessity in the 21st century,” said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), “In partnership with my colleague and friend, Senator Gonzalez and two dozen of our colleagues, both houses have approved a historic investment to close the digital divide with the passage of AB 14 & SB 4. Closing the digital divide will mean increased access to telehealth, job training, education, small business participation, and ag tech providing prosperity for all Californians in the digital age. 1 in 8 California homes still do not have sufficient internet access, and small towns and communities of color face even higher numbers of students and families who remain disconnected. I’m thankful to my colleagues for supporting this generational cause, and urge the Governor to sign AB 14 & SB 4 into law to provide Internet for All.”
“I am beyond excited to share that Broadband for All is one step closer to becoming a reality,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Closing the digital divide is key to providing a healthier, more thriving future for all Californians. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that having access to high-speed internet means having access to education, telehealth, and economic opportunities; without access, families and individuals struggle to get by especially low-income communities of color. SB 4 and AB 14 give us hope for a more equitable future, in which more students, patients and workers of all backgrounds will have access to broadband and consequently, the resources they need for everyday life. I am thankful to all my colleagues in the Legislature for helping us get this far, and I urge Governor Newsom to sign these bills into law to help us achieve Broadband for All.”
The Internet for All Act of 2021 prioritizes the deployment of broadband infrastructure in California’s most vulnerable and unserved rural and urban communities by extending the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to provide communities with grants necessary to bridge the digital divide. AB 14 and SB 4 offer a vital pathway to connect California’s workforce to gainful employment, harness the life-saving technology of telemedicine, democratize distance learning, enable precision agriculture, and sustain economic transactions in the 21st Century E-Marketplace.
These historic votes build upon the Governor’s Broadband Trailer bill that extends eligibility for grants administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to local and tribal governments, who are willing and able to quickly and efficiently connect households, community anchor institutions (including educational institutions, fairgrounds for emergency response, and healthcare facilities), small businesses, and employers. AB 14 and SB 4 are measured and meaningful approaches to building a statewide fiber middle-mile network that will provide higher speeds and access to connectivity to all those who are unserved along the path of deployment.
Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento. Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry resides in Winters a block from her childhood home with her longtime partner, Larry Harris, and has two grown daughters and a stepson.