03/07/22 Policy & Advocacy Taskforce Meeting
The Policy and Advocacy Task Force held its ninth meeting on March 7, 2022, and included representatives from multiple sectors interested in resolving the digital divide in the Los Angeles County region.
The purpose of the Policy and Advocacy Task Force is to host discussions of relevant public policy, regulatory and best practices to identify priorities for public policy to permanently eliminate the digital divide.
The meeting was focused on sharing information among partners on upcoming policy and regulatory discussions at the local, state and federal level. Sulaiman Kenyatta, Policy Manager of LAEDC gave an overview of state legislation being tracked, including:
Martha Alvarez of LAUSD discussed re-examining flexibility on funding and said that a key part of AB 2751 is that the bill would require the state and state agencies to only do business with an internet service provider offering affordable home internet service to households participating in certain public assistance programs, as specified. The bill would define affordable home internet service to mean internet service costing no more than $20 per month and that meets specified minimum speed requirements.
Shayna Englin of the California Community Foundation added that Assemblymember Chris Holden’s AB 2748 will be a priority for the organization. AB 2748 will update the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA) of 2006, an outdated state law, to directly address modern issues with broadband connectivity, subscriber discrimination by telecommunications providers, and other digital equity barriers.
The group also discussed possible overlap of broadband and telehealth bills in AB 32 (Aguiar-Curry), a “two-year bill” which may be acted upon after the state budget process concludes in June 2022.
AB 32 by Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva also was discussed and seeks to make current telehealth flexibilities permanent under state law. Telehealth modalities, such as phone and video calls, and remote enrollment in state health programs have been critical in providing health care during COVID-19, but are currently contingent upon federal and state public health emergency declarations.
There was discussion of possibly creating a tracker for legislation at the federal level. It was shared that it would be a powerful illustration of the LA DEAL collaborative to identify bills as the federal level for advocacy. Task Force members were asked to help identify one to three top bills their respective organizations are focusing on.
Ray López-Chang, Senior Manager, Collective Action at Great Public Schools Now said the organization is working on “Better Data for Better Broadband Stories,” a “story bank” to capture stories of community members who have challenges accessing broadband in order to illustrate the issue for the broader public and to help build public will. The story bank can be accessed here.
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Identifying priorities for public policy to permanently eliminate the digital divide.