Blockchain, Broadband Among Tech Bills on Pause

At a hearing Monday, the state Senate Appropriations Committee placed several pieces of proposed technology and innovation legislation in suspension.

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Key pieces of tech legislation are still alive but others are being placed in suspension by the statehouse’s two Appropriations committees, which annually push “pause” on many proposed laws with an estimated potential cost of $50,000 or more.

The state Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday placed in suspension a small slate of proposed technology and innovation laws that ran the gamut from water to blockchain to broadband — an issue of special significance as millions of Californians contemplate various degrees of continued remote work and schooling. Among the takeaways:

  • State Senate Bill 689, from Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, would give state and local governments the option of using blockchain technology, as defined, to issue a certified birth, death or marriage record. The definition used is one already in state code: “a decentralized data system, in which the data stored is mathematically verifiable, that uses distributed ledgers or databases to store specialized data in the permanent order of transactions recorded.” The only addition here is the word “permanent.” Senate Appropriations was expected to hear the bill Monday, but instead put a discussion to next week, reportedly due to “workload constraints.”
The committee considered more than 80 bills Monday. Among those suspended were:

  • SB 743, from Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, would have created a grant program to “support broadband adoption in public housing, including for computer labs, digital literacy and other adoption programs,” per Bradford’s office. It would have required the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create a grant program to fund “broadband adoption, digital literacy and computer equipment for eligible publicly supported communities.”
  • SB 4, from Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, was placed in suspension last week. It would have required the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to work with state and local agencies and national organizations to explore streamlining local land use approvals and construction permit processes on broadband infrastructure deployment and connectivity projects.

    Gonzalez said via email that she “looks forward to the successful advancement of SB 4 in the legislative process, from the Senate Appropriations suspense file, to a Senate Floor vote soon.”
  • SB 351, the so-called Water Innovation Act, from Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, would have created the Office of Water Innovation at the California Water Commission for the “furtherance of new technologies and other innovative approaches in the water sector,” as well as the Water Innovation Fund. It also would have required the new office by Dec. 31, 2023, to “take specified measures to advance innovation in the water sector.”
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.