Connecting California, Part VI –– Digital Equity in the California Legislature:
The Golden State’s Historic Opportunity
Friday, June 25, 2021 | 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. PST
Watch the recording.
A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, students continue to experience digital inequity. According to the Brookings Institute, almost 10 million students—half of whom are students of color—do not have the home internet services necessary for remote learning in 2021. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, connectivity and technology gaps persist across the state among low-income, African American, and Latino households. In Sacramento, tackling the digital divides has received top billing among pundits and decision makers. Oftentimes inaccessible, the conversation usually remains within the confines of the Capitol.
Join the Michelson 20MM Foundation, the California Community Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation on June 25th, 2021, as we shift the paradigm through our next Connecting California event: Digital Equity in the California Legislature: The Golden State’s Historic Opportunity. The program will feature policymakers determined to uplift what is often described as one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time. Digital equity champions Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Senator Anna M. Caballero and Senator Lena A. Gonzalez will discuss the bills currently active in the California State Legislature, followed by special analysis from Ernesto Falcon of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry
4th California Assembly District
In November 2016, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry was elected to the California Assembly to represent the 4th District that includes all or parts of Napa, Lake, Yolo, Sonoma, Colusa and Solano counties. Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry introduced Assembly Bill 14, “The Internet for All Act of 2021,” to bridge the digital divide. She first served as planning commissioner and then was elected to the city council eventually serving as the first female mayor of her hometown of Winters. With the understanding that employment is central to any successful community, Aguiar-Curry helped bring a PG&E training facility to Winters that provided hundreds of jobs for local residents. She was also involved in efforts to create the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in the inner California Coast Ranges that was proclaimed by President Obama in 2015.
Senator Anna M. Caballero
12th California Senate District
Anna M. Caballero, was elected in November 2018 to the California State Senate to represent the 12th Senate District, which includes the Salinas Valley, San Benito County, Merced County and portions of Stanislaus, Madera and Fresno counties. Senator Caballero first encountered digital inequity as a councilwoman in the city of Salinas, where bridging the digital divide was crucial to strengthening the business and commercial opportunities for growth and the redevelopment of downtown Salinas. Caballero is the author of Senate Bill 28, the “Rural Broadband and Digital Infrastructure Video Competition Reform Act of 2021.”
Senator Lena A. Gonzalez
33rd California Senate District
Lena A. Gonzalez was first elected to the State Senate to represent the 33rd District in June 2019. As State Senator, she represents nearly 1 million residents in Southeast Los Angeles, Signal Hill, portions of South Los Angeles and Lakewood, and her hometown of Long Beach. At the beginning of the 2021 legislative session, Senator Gonzalez introduced Senate Bill 4, “The Broadband for All Act,” to help close the digital divide. To date, Gonzalez has worked on over 70 measures that have been introduced at the state legislature. Prior to her time in the Senate, Gonzalez worked for Microsoft where she led social impact programs on digital skills, the future of work and criminal justice reform. She also served on the Long Beach City Council from 2014-2019, representing 50,000 residents in Downtown Long Beach, including the Port of Long Beach.
With special analysis by:
Senior Legislative Counsel, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Ernesto Falcon is senior legislative counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation with a primary focus on intellectual property, open Internet issues, broadband access, and competition policy. He represents EFF’s advocacy, on behalf of its members and all consumers, for a free and open Internet before state legislatures and Congress. Falcon’s work includes pushing the state of California to pass the strongest net neutrality law in the country in response to federal repeal efforts, as well as leading EFF’s research and advocacy to promote universally available, affordable, and competitive fiber broadband networks.
Special Thanks to Our Foundation Partners
If you missed our Connecting California events, you can find the recordings on our #ConnectingCA YouTube playlist. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Learn more at www.20mm.org.