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Tech, Innovation Bills Still Active as Deadline Nears

The Legislature’s timeframe to pass bills this session is getting very short but several significant pieces of proposed technology and innovation legislation are still alive. Others, though, are no longer active.

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The race for survival continues for several pieces of proposed technology and innovation legislation.

That’s because legislators’ time is short this month; they have until Sept. 10 to pass bills, and their interim study recess starts when they adjourn that day. And after that, Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 10 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature. Newsom’s office said Tuesday that he had signed two bills with likely impacts to the privacy of personal information. Assembly Bill 445 from Whittier Democrat Lisa Calderon would eliminate the requirement that the Department of Developmental Services ensure regional support centers for people with developmental disabilities and their families collect parents’ Social Security numbers. And AB 1480 from Chino Democrat Freddie Rodriguez would expand employers’ disclosure of certain arrest or detention information — already allowable for peace officers and other prospective members of law enforcement — to “persons already employed as nonsworn members of a criminal justice agency, as specified,” and “an applicant for a nonsworn position within a criminal justice agency, to a governmental agency employer of that nonsworn employee or applicant.” Numerous other pieces of tech legislation either still remain active, or have been sidelined. Among them:

  • Assembly Bill 14, from Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, is the Internet for All Act. It would authorize local educational agencies to “report to the department their pupils’ estimated needs for computing devices and Internet connectivity adequate for at-home learning.” It would also empower the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to work with state, local and national groups on finding ways to streamline land use approvals and construction permits for projects related to broadband infrastructure deployment and connectivity. And it would require the California Public Utilities Commission to prioritize projects in unserved areas when approving California Advanced Services Fund last-mile infrastructure projects. The bill is being amended in light of the passage of Assembly Bill/Senate Bill 156, the broadband budget trailer bill, which Newsom signed in July. AB 14 doesn’t have a hearing date but is still active and designed to be contingently enacted with Senate Bill 4, meaning both must pass.
  • AB 825, from Assembly Member Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, would hone the Information Practices Act of 1977, which requires agencies that own or license “computerized data” to disclose system security breaches to residents whose personal information was compromised. AB 825 would specify that personal information in these situations includes genetic data, which it would define as “any data, regardless of its format, that results from the analysis of a biological sample of an individual, or other source, and concerns genetic material, as specified.” The bill would place new requirements on local agencies and, because of this, would effectively impose a state-mandated local program. The bill is on the Senate floor, where it’s expected to be considered by next week’s deadline.
  • SB 109, from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would create the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development within the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and under direct control of its director. The office would be responsible for “studying, testing, and advising regarding procurement of emerging technologies and tools in order to more effectively prevent and suppress wildfires throughout the state, through specified activities, as provided.” It would also establish the nine-member Emergency Wildfire Technology Research and Development Review Advisory Board, which would review the new office’s activities. The bill reached a milestone Wednesday when legislators passed it out of the Assembly. It now goes back to the Senate for approval of any amendments — and then is expected to head to Newsom’s desk for a signature.
    “The escalating frequency and devastation caused by wildfires demands that we seek out emerging technology to address this urgent threat,” Dodd told Techwire via email Wednesday. “This bill will help develop advancements and tap innovation from the public and private sectors. It will allow us to work smarter to protect life and property.”
  • Other legislation didn’t fare so well. State Senate Bill 583, from Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, originally sought to streamline voter registration, empowering the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State to create “a back-end automated voter registration system for registering voters” and require the entities to create it to increase “opportunities for voter registration” to those qualified. A two-year bill, it was held in committee and will likely return for consideration during the next legislative session.
  • AB 1037, from Assemblymembers Timothy Grayson, D-Concord, and Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, would have required the California Department of General Services to “develop guidance, policies, and procedures for the integration and development of digital construction technologies for use on a civil infrastructure project” from “specified state entities” and with a project cost of more than $50 million. The bill would also have required this guidance to include a way for a state department to “implement a requirement that a bid or proposal for a civil infrastructure project contract include a digital construction management plan.” But the bill has been placed in the Senate inactive file and will not see any more action this session.
  • Assembly Bill 13, formerly AB 2269, from Assemblymember Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, had a similar fate. Now held under submission, it proposed enacting the Automated Decision Systems Accountability Act of 2020, which would have required state agencies to use “an acquisition method that minimizes the risk of adverse and discriminatory impacts resulting from the design and application of automated decision systems.”
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.