The California State Legislature is currently considering several pieces of technology-related legislation. Several bills are currently being held or suspended in their respective committees, but others have been sent to the governor for signature as of our last update. Here are some of the bills that we are tracking.

Electronic Textbooks

Assembly Bill 133, by Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, would require that all publishers who sell print textbooks to K-8 and 9-12 school districts in the State of California also provide the textbooks in a digital format that is compatible to use on e-readers. Additionally, any student who owns an e-reader device and opts for the digital format of the textbook must be provided one by their respective district in lieu of a print textbook. This legislation infuses technology into the learning process and allows our educators to teach our children with the best resources available to them. The bill has been approved by the governor and chaptered by the Secretary of State as of Aug. 27.

 Broadband Expansion

Senate Bill 740, by Senator Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, would authorize the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to collect $90 million more in an intrastate telecom surcharge collected by the Public Utilities Commission for broadband expansion in areas with no broadband or very slow broadband.   CASF funds were previously only going to be collected through 2015, but this bill would allow the CPUC to collect the CASF funds until 2020 in order to subsidize broadband projects in unserved or underserved California regions.  It expands eligibility for the CASF funds from telephone corporations and wireless companies to others under some circumstances.  The bill was passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week and is under consideration by the upper house.  It requires a 2/3 vote.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1299 by Steven Bradford, D-Gardena,  authorizes the CPUC to award CASF grants "to encourage deployment and adoption of high–quality advanced communications services" for those who reside in publicly supported housing communities in urban regions.  AB1299 relies on SB740 for funding.  The bill was voted out of the Senate Appropriations Committee last week and is still under consideration by the upper house.

 Electronic Initiative Petitions

Assembly Bill 1117, by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, would require the Secretary of State’s office to make initiative or referendum petitions available on the official web site to print, and post the mailing address to which the petition can be sent. The bill is currently being held under submission in the Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file.

 Online Voter Registration – State Websites

Senate Bill 44, by Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would require that all official state websites contain a link to the online voter registration page of the Secretary of State. The bill has been enrolled and presented to the governor as of Aug. 28.

 Wireless Shutdowns

Senate Bill 380, by Senator Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, would forbid a shut-down of wireless communications unless by a warrant or due to an emergency situation. The bill was written in response to the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) shutting down wireless service during a public protest in August 2011. The bill requires that any shutdown that is required would be narrowed specifically so that 911 calls and freedom of speech is not infringed. The bill has been passed by the Assembly and has been ordered to the Senate for a concurrence vote, after which it will be sent to the governor.

 Earthquake Early Warning System

Senate Bill 135, by Senator Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, would establish an earthquake early warning system. Collaborators on this system would include the California Institute of Technology, the California Geological Survey, the University of California and the United States Geological Survey. The system would include field sensors, central processing and notification centers and distribution paths to the public.             The Office of Emergency Services will file with the Secretary of State on whether they have the funding to establish this service by Jan. 1, 2016. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the bill, and it is being read in the Assembly.

Social Media Passwords

Assembly Bill 25, by Assemblymember Nora Campos, D-San Jose, would forbid any private or public employer from requiring that their employees disclose usernames or passwords for personal social media accounts, unless the account is relevant to an investigation of employee wrongdoing or the account is required to access an employer-issued device. The bill is currently in the Senate Committee of Appropriations.

 Internet Voting Pilot

Assembly Bill 19, by Assemblymember Philip Ting, D-San Francisco, would allow counties to conduct an Internet Voting Pilot Program, in which citizens are given the option to vote online in a local election. The program used by the county must be certified by the Secretary of State prior to being used and will test the viability, accuracy and security of the system. The bill is currently being held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Regulation of Drones

Assembly Bill 1326, by Assemblymembers Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, and Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, would exempt unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturers from taxes relating to the manufacturing process. The bill is currently being held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 15 by Senator Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, states that a person using a drone to violate another’s privacy on their property will be subject to civil penalties, and that drones may not ever carry a weapon. Law enforcement must also specify in their application for a search warrant if a drone will be used.  SB 15 initially failed passage in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, but it was granted reconsideration and was passed on Aug. 27.

 California Innovation Hub Program

Assembly Bill 250, by Assemblymember Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, would create the California Innovation Hub Program within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. The program would help the office operate the iHubs, which would help small technology and business startups retain jobs, increase profits and secure financing. The bill also would establish the Innovation Accelerator Account within the California Economic Development Fund in the State Treasury, which would deposit gifts and donations in the iHub Accelerator Fund. The bill passed the amendments in the Senate and will be engrossed and enrolled.

 Online Services Data Collection

Assembly Bill 257, by Assemblymember Isadore Hall III, D-Los Angeles, would require than any online service or web site that collects information about its users to post its privacy policy conspicuously on its site, including what information is being collected and which, if any, third parties have access to that information. The privacy policy must also describe its security safeguards. The bill is currently in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.