Technicity Times
    Issue 1 • November 2002


California Legislative Updates
by Linda Fowells and Richard Chabran

Signed Legislation

Community Technology Programs Recognized by State Law

A definition of community technology was included in two bills that were signed into state law this year, giving long-sought recognition that will no doubt lay the groundwork for future legislation. A community technology program is now defined as "a community-based nonprofit organization that is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and engages in diffusing technology into local communities and training local communities that have no access to, or have limited access to, the Internet and other technologies." (SB 1863, SB 1563)

Community-based Organizations Assured Eligibility for Telecommunications Discounts

Signed into law by Governor Gray Davis, SB 1863 (Bowen) enables nonprofit organizations to receive a 50% discount through the California Teleconnect Fund on connection to the Internet (such as T1 and ISDN lines), therefore reducing telecommunications expenses. The California Teleconnect Fund provides discounted telecommunications services for qualifying schools, libraries, hospitals and community-based organizations.

State to Establish Telecommunication Policies to Address Digital Divide

SB 1563 (Polanco) initiates a state-sponsored convening and study, with input by community technology practitioners, to determine how to reduce the digital divide by expanding the state's telecommunications infrastructure. This bill was signed into law by Governor Gray Davis.

Community-based Organizations Eligible for New 21st Century Learning Centers Program

SB 1478 (McPherson) and AB 1984 (Steinburg) establish guidelines to allocate federal funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. In addition to funding for elementary, middle and high school age students, the bills, signed by Governor Gray Davis, include eligibility for community technology programs that provide academic enrichment to youth.

Unsuccessful Legislation

Creation of a Competitive Community Technology Center Grant Program

AB 2501 (Diaz) would have utilized workforce investment dollars to create a competitive grant program to train youth in marketable technology skills. This bill was unsuccessful because of the state's budget crisis, since most bills requiring funding failed to garner needed support while in committee.

Creation of a State Fund to Support Community Technology Programs

Vetoed by Governor Gray Davis, AB 468 (Firebaugh) would have created a state fund to support community technology programs through a portion of the fees paid by wireless telecommunications companies that lease state-owned property for cell towers.

For more information on these bills, downloadable fact sheets, or ideas on how to get more involved in the legislative process, visit or e-mail the California Community Technology Policy Group at

Richard Chabran is Chair of the California Community Technology Policy Group. Linda Fowells works closely with the policy group as vice president of programs and public affairs at Community Partners.