by Jason Burruel, Legislative Director
This week brings the annual spring recess for the State legislature. As the Senate adjourned last week, Senate President pro Tempore, Darrell Steinberg reminded all Senators that this week is not a “recess,” rather a “district work week.” The reminder comes on heels of three Senators currently facing criminal allegations.
While many people see spring vacation as a time to relax, those in the legislature view it as one of the more important weeks of the year. We use this time to reevaluate our approach to the remaining months of the legislative calendar. Next week begins a very busy two-week span in the legislature as the deadline for policy committees to meet comes on May 2. Several high priority bills will be heard Monday, the day the legislature reconvenes. AB 1717, authored by Assemblymember Perea would enact the Prepaid Mobile Telephony Service Surcharge Collection Act. The bill would establish a prepaid MTS surcharge based upon a percentage of the sales price of each retail transaction that occurs in this state for prepaid mobile telephony services. The prepaid MTS surcharge would include the emergency telephone users’ surcharge, and PUC surcharges. The bill would require a seller to collect the prepaid MTS surcharge from a prepaid consumer and remit the amounts collected to the State Board of Equalization pursuant to the Fee Collection Procedures Law.
We have had initial discussions with the Governor’s staff regarding this legislation and committed to working with Governor Brown and Assemblymember Perea to find a resolution. This bill was scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee last week, but was postponed two weeks due to the opposition from law enforcement. Under AB 1717, a new State computer database would be constructed at a cost of $10 million with an annual maintenance cost of at least $1.7 million, paid for out of the SETNA fund. The formulas proposed in AB 1717 will result in carriers owing a lesser amount of money to UUT’s as well as higher costs for consumers. By creating a bifurcated collection system for the public purpose surcharge and user fee, it will raise administrative charges that will be passed on to the consumer. Because retailers will be collecting fees at the point of sale, AB 1717 allows them to keep 2% of the surcharge, user fee collection, and UUT’s. Another aspect of AB 1717 that is troubling is the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) questions whether they would retain any independent or meaningful audit authority over the prepaid carriers revenue. We have spent a majority of this week lobbying against this bill by meeting with every member of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce committee.
SB 962, authored by Senator Leno would require that any mobile communications device that is sold in California on or after January 1, 2015, include a technological solution which may consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware (application) that can render inoperable the essential features of the device when the device is not in the possession of the rightful owner. SB 962 would also require that the technological solution be able to withstand a hard reset. Due to recent amendments, our Law & Legislation Committee is currently analyzing this legislation.
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