California Legislature approves wildfires measure

California Legislature approves wildfires measure

While its fate is still in the hands of Governor Jerry Brown, California's Senate has voted on and approved a net neutrality bill that is being called the strongest in the nation.

The legislation will now proceed to the governor's desk for a signature in the coming weeks.

California's state Senate late Friday said it tallied enough votes to pass the nation's toughest net neutrality law, advancing a fight with regulators who have been erasing those rules at the federal level.

Lawmakers voted to give a reprieve to Pacific Gas & Electric Co., take steps toward reducing years of secrecy surrounding police misconduct and push back school start times in the frenzied final hours of the two-year legislative session.

The company is potentially on the hook for billions of dollars if its equipment is ultimately blamed for wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes in Northern California wine country last October, the most expensive fire storm in state history. It was originally passed in the Senate in May.

Some legal experts say the FCC did not have the authority to prohibit state net neutrality laws.

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Utility workers would get protections for their jobs, salaries, benefits and pensions as part of a measure allowing California power companies to raise electric bills to cover the cost of lawsuits from last year's deadly wildfires. "This (bill) will catch on and affect the debate". Scott Wiener, a Democrat, argued that without the regulations, internet providers could "inhibit us or manipulate us away from our favorite web sites". It has since encountered numerous obstacles that included being rendered practically toothless by the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee in June. "It's pretty clear", said Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, a Los Angeles Democrat.

AB 2888 would expand who can file for one of California's Gun Violence Restraining Orders, adding coworkers, employers, and school employees to the list that now includes family members and police. Zero rating is when ISPs exempt certain types of online traffic from counting against customers' data caps.

Net neutrality has been a major policy issue in particular for smaller tech companies, which say they stand to be disadvantaged by special commercial partnerships that internet providers could seek with large, established firms such as Google, Facebook and Netflix. "This bill ensures that Californians, not the ISPs they pay to get online, get to choose what websites and apps they use", she added.

"The passage of SB 822 in California has huge implications for our fight to restore neutrality nationwide", declared the advocacy group Fight for the Future (FFTF) following Friday's vote.

"Internet users are still royally pissed off about the FCC's repeal". More than 100 members of Congress signed on to an amicus brief filed Tuesday by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

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