IT Modernization, Broadband Bills Move Forward

The state Assembly Appropriations Committee placed numerous bills in suspense last week, halting their progress through the Legislature – but let a handful of technology legislation continue onward.

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Several bills with the potential to reshape state policy on personal data, information privacy, broadband and IT initiatives have survived an Assembly committee’s annual culling of costly proposed legislation.

Five bills from Assembly Democrats that would change how the state technology agency handles IT projects, hone the definition of digital health information and create a far-reaching data system last week cleared the state Assembly Appropriations Committee, which scrutinizes proposed laws with potential financial impacts of $50,000 or more. They’re expected to head next to the Assembly floor for a vote, although dates have not yet been set. Among the takeaways:
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  • Assembly Bill 1323, from San Francisco Democrat David Chiu, aims at making the state more “preventative in addressing potential challenges” in IT, he told Techwire last month. It would require the California Department of Technology (CDT) to “identify, assess and prioritize legacy information technology system modernization efforts across state government” and require state entities to submit IT contracts to CDT before May 1, 2022. CDT would then use this information to determine types of uses that could be “candidates for statewide contracts for commonly used or shared services,” and work with legislative staff and the Legislative Analyst’s Office on evaluating options to modernize government IT project approval and oversight processes. The goal, Chiu said, isn’t complete centralization, but to “ensure our IT systems are modernized, centralized, fiscally responsible and meeting the needs of our citizens.”

    “When government IT infrastructure doesn't work, that has very real impacts on everyday Californians. I'm thrilled that this bill, which begins the process of reforming and modernizing our IT offerings, is moving forward,” Chiu told Techwire Friday by email.
  • AB 14, from Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, and Assembly Member Mark Stone, D-Monterey Bay, modifies and makes permanent a state program to expand broadband service, according to Appropriations analysis. It would extend and modify the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) by increasing the minimum speed of CASF-deployed broadband infrastructure. It would continue CASF funding in perpetuity “with a surcharge not to exceed an unspecified percentage of an end user’s intrastate telecommunications service costs”; and would change project eligibility to “infrastructure capable of providing broadband access at speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 25 Mbps upstream with a goal of 100 Mbps downstream.” It would have the California Public Utilities Commission prioritize “specified” broadband infrastructure grants to projects in unserved and high-poverty areas; authorize local education agencies to report pupils’ distance-learning needs in computing and the Internet to the California Department of Education; and require the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to work with stakeholders on streamlining local land-use approval and permitting for broadband infrastructure deployment by June 30.
  • AB 99, from Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, would codify recommendations from the California Cradle-to-Career Data System Workgroup’s first legislative report, which detailed the first phase of standing up an integrated data system linking “student-level information” from early childhood to working age. According to Appropriations analysis, the bill would create two advisory groups for the California Cradle-to-Career Data System, the Data and Tools Advisory Board and the Community Engagement Advisory Board. It would specify that the California Government Operations Agency manage the system via a Cradle-to-Career Office, and it would designate an 18-member governing board for the data system with broad-based state- and public-level representation. The bill would also specify that the data system go through “the state’s typical IT project approval and oversight process through CDT.”
  • AB 1252 from Assembly Member Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, would effectively expand the definition of medical information in the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act and thereby expand the definition of the misdemeanor that can result from breaking it, according to Appropriations analysis. The bill would define “personal health record information” as “individually identifiable information, in electronic or physical form, about an individual’s mental or physical condition that is collected by a commercial Internet website, online service or product,” and specify that a business that “offers personal health record software or hardware to a consumer, in order to make information available to an individual or provider of health care,” be deemed a provider of health care subject to the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. Because the bill would expand the definition of a crime, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
  • AB 825, from Assembly Member Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, would update the data breach notification law to include genetic information. It would require agencies that own or license “computerized data” to reveal system security breaches to residents whose personal information was compromised. The bill would specify that personal information includes “an individual’s genetic tests, the genetic tests of family members of an individual or the manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of the individual” resulting from biological sample analysis or analysis of another source.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.