01- April 10, 2015 CCTA Legislative Update

Disposable Household Battery Recycling Program. Assembly Bill 1159 (Gordon, Williams) would require a producer of a disposable household batteries and other entities involved in the distribution chain to develop and implement a plan to collect and recycle household batteries. This mandate would also apply to home-generated sharps waste (needles). This law shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2024 unless extended by future legislation.

This requirement would apply to many businesses, including those that provide network equipment, who do not produce batteries and who have no control over how these batteries are disposed.

California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA) member companies provide consumers with services that require the use of consumer electronic devices to control or manage the network service, including cable services and security alarm services.  Because t is imperative that, upon installation of the service, the consumer have the immediate ability to test the functionality and operate the service, consumers are provided with batteries in the electronic devices given during installation.  By simply providing consumers with the immediate ability to operate their service, CCTA member companies would be required to create and fully fund a state program for the recycling of batteries that they do not produce or control the disposal.  In addition, CCTA members would be subject to penalties for the failure of the consumer to properly dispose of the battery.

AB 1159 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday, April 13, 2015. CCTA is opposed to the measure.

Possessory Interest:  Change of Ownership Information. Assembly Bill 567 (Gibson) would authorize the State Board of Equalization (BOE) and local county assessor to disclose to the public whether a change of ownership statement (Form 100-B) has been filed with the BOE, or whether the BOE has issued a determination to the assessor that a legal entity change in ownership event requiring reassessment has occurred.

This bill is sponsored by the BOE. According to the Author’s Office, the BOE and assessor staff have frequent requests regarding whether specific sales, mergers, acquisitions, and buyouts reported in the media will result in the reassessment of a legal entity’s real estate holding. However, the BOE is restricted by law from disclosing even the most basic information, including whether a change of ownership has been filed. It is the intent of the Author that this bill “create a level of transparency in property assessment for the public.” Ultimately, a change of ownership that has been filed will eventually be made public when it is reported in the yearly Assessment Roll. However, business  is concerned that this new policy could result in the release of confidential taxpayer information. Cal-Tax will be organizing a coalition of opposition to the measure.

AB 567 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee on Monday, April 13, 2015.

California Advanced Services Fund.Assembly Bill 238 (Stone)

 would define “broadband,” for purposes of awarding California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) grants as 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and three Mbps upstream; authorize local government entities to obtain CASF funding; and, would state that it is the intent of the Legislature to allow the  California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to regulate broadband services pursuant to 706 the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

AB 238 would dramatically dilute the limited CASF funding available for high-priority broadband projects by increasing the threshold speed for eligible broadband projects up to 25 Mbps. This bill would also  allow government entities to obtain CASF funding to build networks that would compete with existing broadband networks that were built by private companies with private investment. And, of great concern, the bill states the intent of the Legislature to allow the  California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to regulate broadband services. This would dramatically change the economics of the ever evolving Internet and jeopardize future investments in the deployment of competitive advanced communications services.

CCTA and other communications companies are opposed to the measure.

AB 238 was scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee on Monday, April 13, 2015. However, the Author has withdrawn the measure and is requesting that it be heard on April 27, 2015.

CPUC Confidential Documents Access. Assembly Bill 825 (Rendon) would make changes to how the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) operates and shares regulated utility information with the public. Of significance to the cable industry is the proposed process for providing public access to confidential documents. More specifically, this bill would provide that if in a proceeding before the CPUC, a public utility, or any business that is a subsidiary or affiliate of a public utility, or a corporation that holds a controlling interest in a public utility, seeks to file a pleading, report, or other document that preserves the confidentiality of information contained therein, it would have to file a public version of the pleading, report, or other document that contains sufficient information for any other party to the proceeding to understand the nature of its contents. An administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to the proceeding, the assigned commissioner, or the commission may determine the sufficiency of the information contained in the public version of the pleading, report, or other document.

In addition, this bill would provide that a party in the proceeding may file a motion to make public a confidential pleading, report, or other document filed by a public utility, or any business that is a subsidiary or affiliate of a public utility, or a corporation that holds a controlling interest in a public utility. An ALJ assigned to the proceeding or the assigned commissioner shall hold a hearing on the motion to determine whether the pleading, report, or other document should be made public, under a claim of confidentiality. The ALJ or assigned commissioner shall make written findings and conclusions. AB 825 would allow any legal challenge to a  final decision to brought against the CPUC in Superior Court.

CCTA is working with the Author and member companies to develop language that would provide additional confidential protection for information submitted to the CPUC by the cable industry.

AB 825 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee on Monday, April 13, 2015.  This bill will also be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks.

Subsurface Excavation Enforcement. Senate Bill 119 (Hill) would (1) require the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to adopt a program to enforce violations of provisions relating to excavation; (2) create a stakeholder authority to enforce “one-call”  laws;  (3) remove and modify existing exemptions to participate in one-call centers; (4) add liability provisions for excavators and utility operators; (5) require the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to revise its excavation regulations and practices; (6) update technical requirements of the “call before you dig” process; (5) create a Safe Energy Infrastructure and Excavation Fund (Fund) to support education via one-call centers, fund workforce development at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC); and (6) develop a funding mechanism for the Fund through the CPUC’s existing citation program that enforces safety in CPUC-regulated gas and electric utilities.

In response to the PG&E natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010, the Author has introduced this measure to enforce California’s excavation laws. The Author has held several working group meetings, with a broad coalition, in an effort to develop a comprehensive consensus proposal.

SB 119 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee on Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

Double Pay for Family Holidays. Assembly Bill 67 (Gonzalez) would require employers to pay no less than twice the employees regular rate of pay for work performed on a family holiday. It would define “family holiday” as December 25 or the fourth Thursday of November of each year. This measure would not apply to any employee covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement.

AB 67 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

Computer Hacking Crime. Assembly Bill 195 (Chau) would make it a crime for anyone to solicit another person to commit or assist in the commission of a variety of crimes related to the unauthorized access of computer systems, including “hacking services.”   This bill would define “hacking services” as assistance in the unauthorized access to computers, computer systems, or data in violation of current law.   The impetus for this measure stems from the growth in ‘hackers-for-hire’ websites where individuals can pay to have hackers gain unauthorized access to computer systems. There is no opposition to the bill and it is supported by the California District Attorneys Association, the California Public Defenders Association, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

This bill is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

Deployment of Communication Services. Assembly Bill 57 (Quirk) would provide that a co-location or siting application for a wireless telecommunications facility is deemed approved, if the city or county fails to approve or disapprove the application within the time periods established by the commission and all required public notices have been provided regarding the application.  Assembly Member Quirk is interested in addressing any impediments to the deployment of broadband and communication infrastructure.

AB 57 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee on Monday, April 20, 2015.

Energy Usage; Plug-In Equipment. Assembly Bill 1094 (Williams) would require the California Energy Commission (CEC), in collaboration with the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), to conduct an analysis of plug-in equipment electricity consumption and set statewide targets for the greenhouse gases emitted by the generation of the electricity consumed by plug-in equipment. The analysis would focus on the top 80 percent of plug-in equipment average annual electricity consumption. The bill would also require the CEC, in collaboration with the CPUC, to develop, track the progress of, revise, and update an implementation plan to achieve those statewide targets. The bill would require the CPUC, in collaboration with the CEC, to work with stakeholders to address challenges to the achievement of those statewide targets.

AB 1094 is sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and supported by a number of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, among others. According to the Author, the CEC and CPUC have an array of existing programs aimed at increasing energy efficiency statewide. There is the potential to scale up these efforts to capture a larger share of cost-effective energy savings in plug-in equipment which account for over 65% of residential and 16% of commercial electricity consumption in California.

AB 1094 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee on Monday, April 20, 2015.

“The Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act (PEAC).”  Assembly Bill 691 (Calderon) would require a probate court to order an “electronic communication service” or “remote computing service provider” to disclose to an executor or administrator of an estate any financial records or other financial information pertaining to a deceased user, excluding private communications or stored contents. The bill would exempt the provider from disclosure if the deceased user expressed a different intent through either deletion of the records or contents during the user’s lifetime, or affirmatively indicating, through a setting within the product or service, how the user’s records or the content of communications can be treated after a set period of inactivity or other event and would exempt the provider from civil liability for compliance in good faith with a court order issued pursuant to this act.

The proposal is supported by the California Chamber of Commerce, the Internet Association, TechNet, AOL, Facebook and Yahoo.

AB 691 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Encryption Standard; Private Data.  Assembly Bill 83 (Gatto) would require businesses to encrypt any customer “private data.” The bill would define, at minimum, the encryption of “private data” to the degree that any reasonably prudent business would provide, taking into account factors such as the availability of technology, the size of the business, generally accepted standards and practices of the industry. The bill would also provide that the Attorney General provide guidance for encryption standards for a given industry. This bill would define “Private data” as (1) medical information; (2) personally identifiable financial information; (3) geophysical location information; and, (4) the combination of an individual’s first name or first initial and his or her last name, with any of the following: mother’s maiden name, Social Security Number, and date of birth.

The California Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the measure. The Chamber is concerned that there is no definition of “geophysical” location data. More importantly, the Chamber is opposed to the Department of Justice developing technical standards that could ultimately be unachievable.

AB 83 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Privacy Data Security Breach. Assembly Bill 964 (Chau) would require businesses to notify individuals whose unencrypted personal information was breached within 30 days. This bill would allow businesses to request a delay for an additional 30 days if the Attorney General determines that additional time is reasonably necessary for the business to assess the scope of the security breach, prevent further disclosures, conduct a risk assessment, and restore the integrity of the data system.

This bill was recently amended and is still under review by the business community. There is no opposition to the measure at this time. AB 964 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Connected Televisions.  Assembly Bill 1116 (Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection) would prohibit a manufacturer from producing for sale in the state, or delivering to be offered for sale in the state, a connected television that offers voice recognition technology that is capable of recording or transmitting audio to the manufacturer or a third party even if the voice recognition technology is not enabled or recording or transmitting any spoken words to the manufacturer or a 3rd party. This bill would prohibit a waiver of these prohibitions and authorize their enforcement by injunction or civil penalty in a court of competent jurisdiction by the Attorney General or a district attorney.

The California Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the measure and will be coordinating an opposition coalition. Essentially, the Chamber argues that the state should not take actions to stifle technology innovations.

AB 1116 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Quasi-Legislative Proceedings; Exparte Communications.  Senate Bill 48 (Hill) would make several sweeping and significant operational changes in how the California Public Utilities Commission operates. This bill would impose ex parte communications rules in quasi-legislative proceedings.  Currently, ex parte communication rules apply only in ratemaking and adjudicatory proceedings.  SB 48 would also require the commission to adopt procedures to disqualify  commissioners from hearing a case due to bias or prejudice require, for purposes of ex parte communications, that the commission’s definition of who is a “decisionmaker” include commissioners, the executive director of the commission, and anattorney of the commission; and, authorize an action to enforce the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act or the California Public Records Act to be brought against the commission in the superior court. The expansion of ex parte rules to include quasi-legislative may impact the ability of parties to meet and  discuss concerns  at the Commission. CCTA is considering this policy change within the broader context of reforms that are being proposed for Commission proceedings.

SB 48 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

CPUC Reform; Exparte Communications. Senate Bill 215 (Leno) would repeal the California Public Utilities Commission president’s authority to direct any commission staff and greatly expands prohibition on ex parte communications. Two key provisions of significance include:  require, for purposes of ex parte communications, that the commission’s definition of who is a “decisionmaker” include the executive director of the commission, the general counsel of the commission, and the directors for the Energy Division, Communications Division, Water Division and the Safety Enforcement Division, and require that any communications between a person with an interest who is not a party to a commission proceeding and a decisionmaker to be reported by the decisionmaker.  SB 215 would also prohibit communications concerning procedural issues in adjudication cases between parties or persons with an interest and decisionmakers, except for the assigned administrative law judge.

CCTA is considering this policy change within the broader context of reforms that are being proposed for Commission proceedings.

SB 215 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Ratesetting Proceedings; Exparte Communications.  Senate Bill 660 (Hueso) would define a “decisionmakers” at the California Public Utilities Commission to include commissioners, each advisor to a commissioner, and an administrative law judge assigned to the proceeding, thereby making the restrictions on ex parte communications applicable to an advisor to a commissioner in a ratesetting proceeding.

Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Work Hours; Scheduling. Assembly Bill 357 (Chiu)  would require food and general retail establishments to provide its employees with at least two week’s notice of their work schedules. If a food or retail establishment fails to provide the mandatory two week’s notice, the employees shall receive additional pay. The amount of the additional pay shall increase as the time the employee receives notice of his or her work schedule decreases from the required two week’s notice. The bill would also require an employer to allow an employee to be absent from work without pay to attend any required appointments at the county human services agency, provided that the employee gives reasonable notice to the employer of the planned absence from work prior to taking time off.  For purposes of this bill, a retail sales establishment is defined as any business that has 500 or more employees in this state and has 10 or more other retail sales establishment located in the United States of America and maintains two or more of the following: (1) standardized array of merchandise; (2) standardized façade; (3) standardized décor and color scheme; (4) uniform apparel; (5) standardized signage; and, (6) a trademark or a service mark.

AB 357 is sponsored by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

AB 357 is scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Labor & Employment Committee on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

Diversion of Household Hazardous Waste. Assembly Bill 45 (Mullins) would require each local jurisdiction that provides for the residential collection and disposal of solid waste to increase the collection and diversion of household hazardous waste, including household batteries, in its service area by an unspecified percentage over a baseline amount, to be determined in accordance with the California Department of Resources and Recycling  regulations. This bill would authorize the department to adopt a model ordinance for a door-to-door collection and diversion program to facilitate compliance with those provisions, and would require each jurisdiction to annually report to the department on progress achieved in complying with those provisions.

Over the past few years, legislation has been introduced to require certain businesses, to establish mandatory recycling programs for collection of disposable household batteries. These previous proposals failed to recognize the importance consumer compliance and shifted the responsibility to business community. Businesses should not be required to accept responsibility for the disposal of batteries that we do not control. Expanding local government recycling programs is a more appropriate policy.

AB 45 is scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Local Government on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

 

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