Each month the CalCom Connect Newsletter and CalCom website will feature a legislative article submitted by our Lobbyist, Rina Venturini of Government Strategies. This will help our members stay informed on the latest state/federal level issues, as well as the efforts of the CalCom Public Policy Committee. If you have questions regarding any of the current bills listed below, please contact Rina Venturini at rventurini@teamgsi.net

The 2012 Legislative Session came to an end on Friday, August 31st and hundreds of bills were sent to the Governor and are awaiting either his signature or veto.  One very important bill that CalCom strongly supported is Senate Bill 379 authored by Senator Jean Fuller ofBakersfield.  The bill was sponsored by the California Independent Telephone Companies (CITC) and passed both the Assembly and the Senate without a single “no” vote.

Senate Bill 379 gives clear policy direction to the California Public Utilities Commission to support the modernizing of rural communications networks with facilities that can provide access to broadband services as well as traditional voice services through the CHCF-A Program by allowing for the ratebasing of network upgrades with the most current telecommunications technology.  By doing so, small rural telecommunications companies will be provided with regulatory certainty pertaining to the treatment of their investments in multi-use networks.  Many of CalCom’s member companies will benefit from the enactment of the bill.  The Governor has until September 30th  to sign the measure into law.  The California Public Utilities Commission took a “support if amended” position on the bill.

Senate Bill 1161 authored by Senator Alex Padilla was also sent to the Governor.  This bill reaffirms California’s current policy of not regulating VoIP and IP enabled services unless authorized by federal law and specified by the Legislature.  This bill was sponsored by Tech America, TechNet and strongly supported by many in the telecommunications industry such as AT&T, Verizon, SureWest, and Frontier Communications.  The bill faced quite a bit of opposition from consumer groups such as TURN, AARP and the Division of Ratepayer Advocates.  The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has a neutral position on the bill.