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California Telecom Bills Crushing Local Government Control

In the biggest telecom power grab so far to remove local authority in zoning for broadband expansion, California legislators have authored a stack of telecom bills, many of which are poised to benefit industry while overlooking health, safety and environmental consequences, as well as democracy. Big Telecom isn’t messing around anymore. Under the guise of “closing the digital dividein underserved and rural areas after the pandemic, many of the 20 bills are give aways to industry and do not focus attention on safer and more equitable solutions, such as fiberoptic to premises, to expand much needed broadband to all. The Big FourTelecom bills include SB 556 (Dodd), SB 378 (Gonzalez), AB 537 (Quirk), and AB 955 (Quirk). As of Sept 10, 2021 these bills are now on the Governor’s desk and he has until Oct 10th to sign them. Governor Newsom is likely being heavily lobbied by industry and some legislators. The California League of Cities continues to be opposed to at least SB 556 and states, “Despite securing amendments that narrow aspects of the bill to conform with federal law, the measure still undermines local authority and makes no meaningful progress towards closing the digital divide.”

Firefighter Exemptions For Cell Towers

In addition, AB 537 (Quirk) has an exemption for firefighters for placing cell towers on their facilities. Firefighters developed neurologic effects (headaches, fatigue, memory impairment, insomnia) when cell towers were placed on their fire stations thus an exemption was inserted in California bills on cell towers. AB 57 (Quirk 2015) has an exemption on the grounds of health effects. AB 537 (Quirk 2021) also has this exemption and reads, Due to the unique duties and infrastructure requirements for the swift and effective deployment of firefighters, this section does not apply to a collocation or siting application for a wireless telecommunications facility where the project is proposed for placement on fire department facilities. SB 649 (Hueso, Quirk and Dodd 2018) is a bill similar to currently proposed SB 556 (Dodd 2021) also had a health exemption for firefighters and was vetoed by Governor Brown.   

Updated 11/13/21

UPDATE 10/4/21 Governor Newsom Vetoes SB 556 and signs AB 537, SB 378 and AB 955

Governor Newsom Vetoed SB 556 (Dodd) and signed into law AB 537 (Quirk) . Here is a list of bills signed and vetoed on Oct 4, 2021 with the Governor’s veto message. Here is an Analysis of SB 556 by Best, Best, & Krieger, Attorneys at Law. The California Senate Floor Analysis of SB 556 states,

Opponents raise a variety of concerns associated with this bill. Opponents claim that this bill could have negative consequences for public health, safety, and cybersecurity due to the technologies deployed. Opponents also argue that this bill conflicts with the FCC’s regulations, creates ambiguities about local fees for utility attachments, and limits local governments’ ability to regulate access to public rights of way without enabling local governments to effectively enforce consumer protections. In opposition, the League of California Cities states, “SB 556 directly conflicts with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) adopted regulations on wireless services deployment, which cities and counties across the nation are actively implementing. This measure requires local governments to make space available to telecommunications providers without recognizing local authority to manage the public right of way preserved in federal law. FCC regulations explicitly enable local governments to ensure that such installations meet appearance and design standards, maintain traffic safety, protect historical resources’ integrity, and safeguard citizens’ quality of life. To protect the public’s investment, the control of the public rights of way must remain local.”

Post Election Update

The Industry Drive to Widen the Digital Divide

In the aftermath of the 2021 California legislative cycle Larry Ortega, founder of Community Union, Inc, a nonprofit that trains consumers living in the digital divide, wrote a guest commentary, “The drive to widen the digital divide” in Cal Matters on Oct 20, 2021 revealing how and why the digital divide is not improving. His pointed remarks highlight the systemic issues of political influence and media spin. Mr Ortega states, “For almost 30 years, America’s telecom companies have been receiving billions of dollars in rate increases and extra fees to finance the build-out of a national fiber optic network. Along the way, they discovered that such a network would hamper their opportunity to make a financial killing with wireless technology. So in 2010, they stopped upgrading phone customers with fiber optics, thus widening the digital divide and leaving millions of Americans unconnected.”

Closing the Digital Divide: Fiberoptics are Faster, More Secure and Futureproof

The digital divide is not solved by the introduction of 5G. As Larry Ortega points out, “The wireless industry claimed that rapid deployment of 5G technology will bring great new benefits to consumers, and just like that, almost every one of our California legislators were on board. What the industry purposefully omits is that fiber optics (wired) connections are 10,000 times faster than 5G, more secure, less expensive for the consumer and future-proof.” He also notes that most of those on the other side of the digital divide cannot afford 5G phones.

Should the Governor Investigate Why ALEC Bills Continue to Land on his desk?

“ALEC, Carr and the phone companies are working in tandem to ensure that consumers in California and the U.S. do not get access to world-class telecommunication services. Fiber optic upgrades would slash profits by hundreds of billions of dollars, breaching telecoms’ fiduciary duty to their shareholders. The telecoms want no part of profit-slashing and therefore have chosen to drive a strategy that ensures the persistence of a digital divide.”, Larry Ortega, founder of Community Union, Inc, and a 35-year veteran of the technology sector.

Pre Election Info

Unlimited funds and powerful lobbyists, along with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that endorses telecom deregulation, are on a fast train to derail what little power local governments have to regulate the placement or funding of wireless broadband with a laundry list of telecom California bills slated to clean up in 2021, and like telecom has done in other states. This fast and furious approach to broadband is purported to improve internet speeds and access but does not consider the long term public health and environmental consequences, climate change impacts, better alternatives to wireless infrastructure, or the future economic viability of local governments.  The infamous SB 649, that was opposed by the League of Cities and vetoed by Governor Brown in 2018, is back and expanded in several California 2021 bills. “It turns the development process in California upside down to accelerate wireless infrastructure deployment” without the normal orderly deliberative process. (Masri 2015 on similar AB 57)

An article in 48 Hills, an independent San Francisco News Outlet, notes these telecom bills are rapidly going through the legislature with almost no opposition and, “Will allow corporate Telecom carriers to put wireless telecom facilities, (towers and antennas) wherever they choose with no local control, or public input. That includes in front of homes and as close as 6 feet outside windows in parks and near schools.”

Bruce Kushnick, of the Irregulators, wrote a compelling letter to Governor Newsom Dear Governor Newsom, Please Do Not Sign the Corporate-Sponsored Wireless Bills; Start Investigations Instead.  Bruce Kushnick, Medium. Sept, 2021.

Four Bills

Four bills stand out that will have the most impact on local governments to responsibly carry out their duty to protect their cities, their citizens, the environment and their economies are below. Scroll down to see specific arguments to oppose each of these bills

To see where these bills are you click on the Legislative Link then go to STATUS. This will tell you which committee this is in. You can go to the California Legislative Portal to submit a letter to that specific committee. To email the letter directly to a senator use this format- – To send letter directly to an assemblymember use You can also call the offices directly to provide your support or opposition to a bill.

SB-556  (Dodd) »“A cell tower on every utility pole” bill. STATUS. Final Committee Hearing July 7, 2021  STATUS. Final Committee Hearing July 7, 2021 Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance hearing info. Write and call Assemblymembers,

SB-378 (Gonzalez) »“Superficial Microtrenching our streets” bill.  STATUS. Final Committee Hearing July 7, 2021 Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance hearing info . Write and call Assemblymembers,

AB-537 (Quirk) »“Deemed Approved- Fast tracking collocation of cell antennas” bill  STATUS Final Committee Hearing July 8, 2021. Senate Government and Finance Committee hearing info Send in Portal, write to individual Senate Members and call.

AB-955 (Quirk) »“Deemed Approved- Fast tracking highway cell antennas” bill. STATUS. Final Committee Hearing 7/5/21 Senate Appropriations Committee- hearing info

Opposition to Telecom Bills

NonProfit Groups and Cities Opposing Telecom Bills

The California League of Cities opposes the most egregious of these bills-SB 556, SB 378 and AB 537 (but has gone neutral on its position recently on AB537) as an overreach of authority and has written a letter opposing SB 556. The Cal Cities letter states.”

California Cities Opposing SB 556

The California government Committee analysis of the bills SB 556  and AB 537 show increasing opposition by cities, individuals and non-profit groups. .

Over 50 cities in California have written letters in opposition including-

The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments writes in opposition to AB 537,We oppose AB 537 because it takes away the authority of local governments to plan their communities, to protect the safety of local residents, and to protect the aesthetics of the community.” They also Oppose SB 556 for similar reasons.

.Physicians for Safe Technology also Opposes SB 556 and AB 537 and has written a Letter in Opposition to these bills. This is a PST letter to Governor Newsom in opposition to SB 556, AB 537, AB 922

This is a PST letter to Governor Newsom in opposition of SB 556, AB 537, AB 922 and SB 378 Letter PST CA Telecom Bills Newsom Sept 12, 2021

Other groups working on this issue inclu

Mom’s Across America has written a letter to California Legislators opposing SB 556, SB 378 and AB 537  

Californians for Safe Technology

Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 9 Opposes SB 556  as “it’s a giveaway to big corporations on the backs of workers, residents, and communities.”   The CWA is pushing for more Federal oversight of broadband deployment. In an April 12, 2021 press release they state, Telecom industry executives said deregulation was necessary for competition and that competition would magically fix everything,” said Brenda Roberts, Vice President of CWA District 7 which covers the Mountain West, Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest. “It hasn’t, and the public needs watch dogs we can work with to ensure this essential service is there for our communities today and into the future. Without regulation, the goal of universal broadband service is just a nice dream.”

Nonprofit groups are calling for citizens to write to their local representatives and cities to ask them to oppose these bills.


Monopoly: It Isn’t just a Game Anymore

Instead of recognizing that Big Telecom needs to be broken up and regulated, or that municipally controlled broadband with fiberoptic to premises is cheaper, more equitable, uses less energy, and economically supports local governments, these bills will further consolidate power in the hands of a few massive communications corporations that have been vertically and horizontally integrating since the deregulating Telecommunications Act of 1996 passed. The public is paying for all of this infrastructure but being ignored when major pitfalls are spotlighted, such as energy consumption, fire safety issues, road safety issues, health issues, environmental issues, cybersecurity issues, and equity issues. These bills are stated under existing law to be for “economic growth and job creation” and for improved broadband access. While these are laudable goals, who will be the true winners in this game and at what cost? How will the massive expansion of telecommunications in space affect us?  Is computer or distanced learning effective? With so many unanswered critical questions, should we slow the Telecom Train or continue to stoke its profitable engine while we are headed for the cliff? 

Fire Safety

Electrical equipment and batteries are known to be a fire risk. With regards to cell towers experts say this risk is underestimated with the deployment of thousands of cell towers. The more cell towers the higher the risk. This is especially important in dry fire prone California. The Malibu Canyon fire in 2007 was caused by overloaded an Edison poles. This one fire cost $6 billion dollars. This site shows that cell tower fires do occur. Because these fires are electrical, water cannot be used to put the fire out or it will electrocute the firefighters. The power company has to shut the power off first. Susan Foster, a utility and fire safety consultant, notes in her letter to Assemblyman Santiago that she has worked on policy to prevent placement of cell towers in the most fire prone areas of Encinitas. Susan Foster Letter AB 537 Cell Tower Fire Risks 4-26-21. Smart meters have also been known to catch fire. In a 2017 report BCUC & SMART METER FIRES: THE FAILURE TO PROTECT it was noted that smart meters can have design flaws and have improper installation, with no one agency tracking the fires.

Senator Diane Feinstein recognized the safety concerns in opposing the similarly overreaching FCC Small Cell Report and Order that ignited this rapid small cell deployment and wrote S 2012 in 2018 to block the order. Feinstein wrote an Op Ed ,Opinion: Cities should decide how and where 5G is deployedabout her bill ‘Restoring Local Control Over Public Infrastructure Act of 2019’’ which died in committee. She notes in the Jan 16, 2020 Op Ed in the Mercury News, “If you look above our streets, you’ll see telephone poles across the country loaded down with wires, transformers, fuses, insulation and more. The 5G roll-out will only add to that equipment, and bring with it added safety risks to our communities….Unless Congress repeals these new FCC rules, citizens and local governments – and potentially public safety – will get steamrolled by big wireless companies.”

Representative Anna Eshoo introduced a companion House bill HR 530 to block the FCC preemption. In a January 15, 2019 press statement Eshoo added,  “Having served in local government for a decade on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, I understand and respect the important role that state and local governments play in protecting the welfare of their residents,” 

Health Impacts of Wireless Broadband, Wi Fi and Cell Phones

This very convenient wireless technology for broadband uses electromagnetic radiation to transmit data through the air. Although we cannot see it or hear it or feel it the pulsed radiofrequency radiation emitted continuously from cell towers, Wi Fi routers, cell phones or any other wireless device is biologically active and can have adverse effects on all living organisms , depending on distance, time, peak pulsation and wavelength frequency, as well as the health and genetics of the individual. This is supported by decades of research starting with military personnel working on radar. The mechanism is similar to other toxic exposures – oxidation of fragile cellular structures including DNA, lipids and proteins. Peer reviewed scientific studies link cell phone and Wi Fi radiation to sperm damage, ovarian damage, embryo damage, neurotoxicity, opening of the blood brain barrier, clumping of red blood cells in the bloodstream, cardiac effects and immune system effects.. 

Excessive cell phone use is associated with the development of brain cancer in the evolving but very robust literature. Cell tower emissions are strongly associated with electromagnetic illness, revealing itself as neurologic impairment in many of those living close to cell towers, and includes non-specific symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, irritability, memory impairment, and heart palpitations. Living near a cell tower can lead to electromagnetic injury in some who then become variably sensitive to all wireless devices, despite the fact they wish to use them. Those who are “electrosensitive” report symptoms when even just passing a cell tower on the road in a car.

Environmental and Wildlife Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation from Cell Towers

Wireless radiation also harms wildlife and agencies have recommended no cell towers in sensitive wildlife areas because of the effects on birds, bees, reptiles and mammals.

An abundance of peer reviewed literature demonstrates adverse impacts to the environment with declines in insect, bird and wildlife populations in cities and where cell towers are placed. This spells disaster for biodiversity, fragile wildlife areas, critical pollinators and agriculture, especially with additive effects of pesticides, toxins and loss of habitat. A report on Unesco’s Mt. Nardia World Heritage Park documents this slow decline in populations of species after cell towers were placed. Unesco Report on Disappearance of Species from Mt. Nardia Park World Heritage Area 2000-2015 with Increased Expansion of Telecommunications Antenna.  Ethno-Botonist Mark Broomhall. Unesco Report on Disappearance of Species from Mt. Nardia with Increased EMR 2000-2015  

Levitt, Lai and Manville (2021) provide an updated and  thorough overview of RFR and effects on all wildlife with a plethora of references in this newly published paper.. The authors state, “But is there a larger environmental downside to rising ambient EMF exposures — particularly RFR — from popular mo- bile communication devices, WiFi antennas, and all accompanying infrastructure that is being overlooked by  environmentalists, researchers, and government regulators alike. We may be missing critical physiological effects across species based on obsolete assumptions about low-level far-field exposures being too weak to adversely affect living tissue. We have yet to take into consideration the unique physiologies of other species, or how they use the environment in ways that humans do not, when we assume that the unfettered use of EMF/RFR can continue unabated and be allowed to grow indefinitely.”   Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, part 1. Rising ambient EMF levels in the environment. (2021) Levitt BB et al. Rev Environ Health. 2021 May 27.

See Also

Firefighters Have Health Impacts with Cell Towers

Firefighters have developed neurologic symptoms when cell towers were placed on their fire stations. After passing a 2004 IAFF resolution, firefighters lobbied and received health exemptions to prevent cell towers on fire stations in AB 57. AB 57 (Quirk 2015) gave an exemption for firefighters in order to prevent cell towers on their fire stations for health reasons. Quirk’s new bill, AB 537 (Quirk 2021) gives the same exemption and reads, Due to the unique duties and infrastructure requirements for the swift and effective deployment of firefighters, this section does not apply to a collocation or siting application for a wireless telecommunications facility where the project is proposed for placement on fire department facilities.” 

The neurologic effects of microwave radiation were also confirmed in a National Academy of Sciences report that looked at the mystery attack on U.S. diplomats in Cuba, Chin and now in the U.S, concluding these were likely from directed microwave energy. Symptoms in the diplomats are similar to electromagnetic injury. The military in the U.S. already uses millimeter directed energy microwave beams known as Solid State Active Denial Technology as a crowd deterrent.

Wireless Smart Meters have been shown to cause illness. Lamech reports development of electromagnetic illness symptoms in some residents after the placement of Smart Meters on their homes. About 0.65% of the population are completely disabled by Wi Fi emissions and have to live in remote areas away from cell towers. Those who are “electrosensitive” either use all wired connections, as all of our internet and phone used to be, or they abandon telecommunications all together. 

Current FCC Limits for Wireless Radiation Emissions are Scientifically Outdated

Limits for wireless radiation are 20 years old and based only on heat effects, with no consideration of the decades of research that indicates harm from non-thermal exposures. A lawsuit has been filed against the FCC for its failure to update RFR standards to protect humans and the environment. 

Insurance companies Don’t Cover Injury from Wireless Radiation

In a  2019 report , New Emerging Risk Insights by Swiss RE Insurance Company  the second largest reinsurance company in the world, 5G is listed as an emerging concern in the high risk category within 3 years.  Included in the high risk trends, are artificial intelligence and the existential threats of climate change. “The top five emerging risks in our SONAR 2019 report are digital technology’s clash with legacy hardware, potential threats from the spread of 5G mobile networks, increasingly limited fiscal and monetary flexibility by central banks, genetic testing’s implications on life insurers, and the impact of climate change on the life and health sector.” Insurance companies typically exclude coverage for long term illness from long term exposure to EMR. They cite citing its similarity to asbestos. Environmental Health Trust has compiled a list of insurance companies you can view here. An article in Business Insurance states “insurers are treating the risk [of electromagnetic radiation] as cautiously as a downed power line after a storm.”

Wired Connections Better, Safer, Cheaper in the Long Run

Fiberoptic or cable to premises is a safer way to provide reliable broadband that is more resistant to cyberattacks, more reliable in fire prone areas, uses much less energy than a a constant spray of radiation, as well as being safer for humans and the environment. In all these bills, using  fiberoptic to premises and wired broadband in general need to be included as alternatives for broadband funding. 


Microtrenching provides considerable cost savings up front for fiber installation as it is placed in shallow trenches typically 4-16 inches deep along roadways and above deeper underground utilities such as sewer, water and sensitive gas lines.  While it is appropriate in some areas and with a lower risk of interfering with underground utilities, there are potential hazards associated with microtrenching similar to other excavation methods.

Boring for underground utility placement involves digging 3 to 5 feet deep and then using sideways drilling under the sidewalk. It is for long term safe placement of utilities. Problems with microtrenching include issues with re-pavement of roads, accidental injury to fiberoptics when redigging for utilities that are deeper in the ground as well as ground shifts over time. Cities know where and how microtrenching should be done and when it is appropriate to have deeper trenching for fiberoptics, especially in fire prone areas. 

Distance Learning is a Failure

The report card for distance learning is in… and it isn’t good. Parents, educators and researchers alike have given it an F for not only academic loss but also for social emotional well-being.  Remote online learning at home has caused a widening of the education gap. that school districts will be struggling with when in person classes resume next year. In person education with teachers, not technology is the key to success. A large survey was published in MMWR March 2021 revealed the consequences of virtual learning. The authors warn, “Children not receiving in-person instruction and their parents might experience increased risk for negative mental, emotional, or physical health outcomes and might need additional support to mitigate pandemic effects. Community-wide actions to reduce COVID-19 incidence and support mitigation strategies in schools are critically important to support students’ return to in-person learning.” 

Senator Feinstein and Assemblywoman Eshoo Support Local Government Control

Cities have opposed the 2018 FCC ruling to speed deployment of small cells as an overreach of authority. Senator Diane Feinstein agreed, introducing SB 2012  in 2019  to restore local control of 5g cell towers to local  governments.  Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier introduced a companion bill, HR 530  in 2019 to Block FCC cell tower preemption and allow local government control.  HR530 had 52 sponsors all of which were democrats. In a press statement Representative Eshoo stated the FCC had  failed to listen to reasonable input from communities across the country, cowered to industry interests, and failed to put the public interests first…. Having served in local government for a decade on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, I understand and respect the important role that state and local governments play in protecting the welfare of their residents,”

These efforts failed as Big Telecom continues to have influence over the agencies that are designed to regulate them. A letter from EH Trust indicate this is a larger Federal problem that needs to be addressed.

Specific Arguments to Oppose These Bills

SB 556 (Dodd)

SB-556 (Dodd) Street light poles, traffic signal poles: small wireless facilities attachments.(2021-2022) – California Connectivity Act.

“This bill would prohibit a local government or local publicly owned electric utility from unreasonably denying the leasing or licensing of its street light poles or traffic signal poles to communications service providers for the purpose of placing small wireless facilities on those poles.”  

SB 556 Opposed by the California League of Cities, City of Los Altos, City of Palo Alto, 

Reasons to Oppose SB 556:

SB 378 (Gonzalez)

SB 378 (Gonzalez) Local government: broadband infrastructure development project permit processing: microtrenching permit processing ordinance (2020-2021) Broadband Deployment Acceleration Best Practices Act of 2021.

“This bill would require a local agency to allow, except as provided, microtrenching for the installation of underground fiber if the installation in the microtrench is limited to fiber. he bill would also require, to the extent necessary, a local agency with jurisdiction to approve excavations to adopt or amend existing ordinances, codes, or construction rules to allow for microtrenching.” 

Microtrenching provides considerable cost savings up front for fiber installation as it is placed in shallow trenches typically 4-16 inches deep along roadways and above deeper underground utilities such as sewer, water and sensitive gas lines.  While it is appropriate in some areas and with a lower risk of interfering with underground utilities, there are potential hazards associated with microtrenching similar to other excavation methods.

Boring for underground utility placement involves digging 3 to 5 feet deep and then using sideways drilling under the sidewalk. It is for long term safe placement of utilities. Problems with microtrenching include issues with repavement of roads, accidental injury to fiberoptics when redigging for utilities that are deeper in the  ground.

 SB 378 is Opposed by the California League of Cities

Reasons to Oppose SB 378:

AB 537 (Quirk)

AB-537   (Quirk) Communications: wireless telecommunications and broadband facilities.  (2020-2021)

Assembly Committee onLocal Government Hearing April 14, 2021on AB 537

“Under existing law, eligible facilities requests, defined to include any request for modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that involves collocation of new transmission equipment, removal of transmission equipment, or replacement of transmission equipment, are exempt from these requirements.”  

AB 57 (Quirk ) 2015 was a similar “deemed approved” bill, which removed local authority over placement of cell antennas beyond the Federal law. The FCC deliberately did not allow for a “deemed approved” requirement if cities took more time to deliberate a collocation permit. The FCC warned that “deemed approval” of applications it is NOT warranted, especially with a shortened timeframe for local governments to ensure safety. In fact AT&T sued the FCC in 2018 for not adding the “Deemed Granted” remedy for telecom industry. Nevertheless, this still holds. Unfortunately AB57(Quirk 2015)  passed which removed “Deemed Granted” from some but not all collocations and exempted “eligible facilities”. AB 537 completes this dangerous overreach to remove the exemption for the safe investigation of all “eligible facilities”.

The California League of Cities opposed AB 57 (which became law)  as this measure “would provide wireless telecommunications facilities a higher priority under state law than other broadband providers using different technologies, tie the hands of municipalities, and set a dangerous precedent of removing localities’ power to make key land use decisions.”

AB 537 is Opposed by the California League of Cities

Reasons to Oppose AB 537:

AB 955 (Quirk)

AB-955 (Quirk) Highways: encroachment permits: broadband facilities.(2021-2022).

“The department [of transportation] shall either approve or deny an application from an applicant for an encroachment permit within 60 days of receiving a completed application, as determined by the department. … The department’s failure to notify the applicant within that 60-day period that the permit is denied shall be deemed to constitute approval of the permit. Thereafter, upon notifying the department, the applicant may act in accordance with its permit application, as if the permit had been approved.”

Reasons to Oppose AB 955:

AB 1560 (Daly)

AB-1560 (Daly) Distance learning: pupil access: computing devices and broadband internet service.(2021-2022).

“Contingent upon an appropriation, the bill would authorize the Superintendent to provide each eligible pupil in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, of a local educational agency with a computing device that meets the minimum performance standard for distance learning, as established by the Superintendent, in order to participate in distance learning. The bill would require the Superintendent to maintain on the Superintendent’s internet website, and distribute to certain entities, a list of broadband service options available for eligible low-income Californians, including service options offered voluntarily by broadband service providers and broadband service options offered by providers participating in the state lifeline program administered by the Public Utilities Commission, as provided.” While this bill is valuable in providing internet capability it does not consider the downsides of distance learning and future effects on students and teachers. This bill will not fix the digital divide or the academic gap in low-income California students, as in person communication and teachers have been shown to be superior, with less distraction.

Reasons to Oppose AB 1560

The Big Five Telecom Bills… Again

To see where these bills are you click on the legislative link then go to STATUS. This will tell you which committee this is in. You can go to the California Legislative Portal to submit a letter to that specific committee.

SB-556  (Dodd) »“A cell tower on every utility pole” bill STATUS

SB-378 (Gonzalez) »“Superficial Microtrenching our streets” bill  STATUS

AB-537 (Quirk) »“Deemed Approved- Fast tracking collocation of cell antennas” bill  STATUS

AB-955 (Quirk) »“Deemed Approved- Fast tracking highway cell antennas” bill. STATUS

AB-1560 (Daly) »“Distance learning for all” bill. STATUS

Calling All LegislatorsHow to Send a Letter

Considering how fast these bills are moving through the legislator, groups are calling for concerned citizens to call, write or visit your local city mayors as well as your California legislators  both in the Senate and the Assembly and let them know your opinion. Find Your Representative.

May 19, 2021–  AB 537 is in the Assembly Appropriation Committee

May 20 – June 3, 2021 – Senate and Assembly begin meeting to move bills out of both houses

June 4, 2021 – Last day for bills to be passed out of the house of origin

July 2021 Senate Bills are going though Assembly Committee and Assembly Bills are now going to the Senate Committees.

California’s Legislator “Position Letter Portal”

If you wish to send a letter to a California Legislative Committee as the bills are moving along, you can use the California Legislature’s “Position Letter Portal”. You can sign in as an individual for as an organization, however, unless you use a separate email address your email address will connect to all other letters you may have submitted as an individual. Use a separate organizational email for those formal letters. You simply click, create a password and follow the “next” prompts for the bill and the committee it will go to then make comments or upload your letter. Once the letter is in the portal it can be accessed by all the future committees. Although you may be able to place a letter before the Committee, the due date typically is several days before the committee hearing. After the bill has passed the committee stage no further submissions are accepted and you have to go directly to your legislator and call or email directly to comment on a bill that will be heard by the full Senate or Assembly. This group has written specific instructions for submission.

Other Bills on Broadband to Watch

Note: Funding of Broadband does not consider wired fiberoptic to premises, nor the health or well-being of students further immersed in technology. Science does not back up the need for more technology and WiFi in schools, but supports less technology. Schools should not be introducing “innovative” technology to diagnose health issues (SB-237) that has not been investigated for safety or effectiveness, nor shown to protect students data, including facial recognition technology that will be collected and shared with unknown sources.. This Orwellian pattern of invasive technology furthers the commercialization of children as well as adults digital data that should be protected. Regulations to protect children’s data are far behind the storm of technological development.

Further legislation to promote digital technology needs to be after a formal all stakeholder commission is appointed to study and report a plan to address the privacy, health and environmental impacts of this mushrooming technology rather than signing well meaning but piecemeal policies which may contradict and interfere with each other.

Timeline for bill passage in the California Senate and Assembly

CA Senate-

CA Assembly

Call to Action

Concerned citizens are encouraged to call and write letters to their local assembly members and senate members, deliver letters to their local offices or to make appointments with the legislators or their aides and voice their opinions. The bills have moved rapidly through committees. 

California Assembly Members

California Senate members

Find Your California Representative at

See Also

Telecom Power Grab


California Bills

State Legislature moving to give telecom companies immense power: Bills would block any local control over placement of cell towers and antennas — and it’s passing with almost no opposition.48 Hills. May 10, 2021.

Cal Cities highlights top bills impacting cities in Spring Legislative Briefing

AB 537 Creates a “Deemed Granted” Remedy for all Wireless Applications, Including Small Cells. April 14, 2021 BB&K .

League of California Cities. Legislative Update: Public Works Officers Institute. March 2021. California 2021 Bills- Support and Oppose.

VETO REQUEST: AB 57 (Quirk) Wireless Telecommunications Facilities.League of Cities. 2015.

City of Los Altos Opposes SB 556.

ALEC Telecommunications Deregulation Policy Statement

Democracy in Peril: Twenty Years of Media Consolidation Under the Telecommunications Act.February 11, 2016. Truthout.

The Book of Broken Promises . $400 BILLION BROADBAND SCANDAL & FREE THE NET.Bruce Kushnick. NewNetworks. 2015.

A Brave New World for Cell Antennas in California: What You Need to Know About AB 57. March 1, 2016. Western City.

Making Smart Decisions About Smart Cities.ACLU. Nov 13, 2017.

Making Smart Decisions About Surveillance: A Guide for Community Transparency, Accountability & Oversight. March 28, 2016. ACLU.

Smart tech’s carbon footprint. The Ecologist. April 30, 2020.

Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than 159 countries. Nov 27, 2017. CBS News.

4 Telecom Stocks Poised to Continue Their Winning Streaks in 2021.Dec 21, 2020. NASDAQ.

Top 3 Groups Lobbying The FCC.Law 360.  April 23, 2021.

What the AT&T Breakup Teaches Us About a Big Tech Breakup. March 1, 2021. Electronic Fontier Foundation.

Edison agrees to pay $37 million in 2007 wildfire. LA Times. May 21, 2013.


Fiberoptic Microtrenching Impact on Streets and Infrastructure. Dec 14, 2020. Fullerton Observer.

Microtrenching fail drives Google Fiber out of Louisville.Feb 8, 2019.

Evaluation of fiber optic installation methods, a case study on micro-trenching in Alberta, Canada.Aug 17, 2017. FACETS Journal.

Distance Learning and the Digital Divide

Association of Children’s Mode of School Instruction with Child and Parent Experiences and Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic — COVID Experiences Survey, United States, October 8–November 13, 2020.Verlenden JV et al. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. MMWR.

All-remote learning is failing many students all across the country: “These children are struggling”.Dec 7, 2020.

California teachers grapple with grading nearly a year after initial school closures. Feb 9, 2021. EdSource.

Remote learning failed my third-grader miserably. I pulled her out of public school.Feb 10, 2021.

 Associations between screen time and sleep duration are primarily driven by portable electronic devices: evidence from a population-based study of U.S. children ages 0-17. Twenge JM. Sleep Med. 2019 Apr;56:211-218.

Early electronic screen exposure and autistic-like symptoms. Donna Hermawati. Intractable Rare Dis Res. 2018 Feb; 7(1): 69–71.

How screen time affects kids’ development. Caitlin Mullen. Feb 20, 2019. affects-kids-development.html?page=all 

Mobile Phones in the Classroom: Examining the Effects of Texting, Twitter, and Message Content on Student Learning. Kuznekoff J et al. Communication Education. 64(3) · May 2015.

Light emitted from digital screens can cause irreversible damage to eyes, research shows. Jan 27, 2017.News Medical and Life Sciences. damage-to-eyes-research-shows.aspx 

Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Mol Vis. 2016; 22: 61–72. Gianluca Tosini, 

Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain. Psychology Today. Dr. Victoria Dunckley. Feb 27, 2014.

A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop Students who used longhand remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material. June 3, 2014. Cindi May. notes-with-a-laptop/ 

Kindle and Nook readers: You know you don’t own those books, right? JUL 10, 2019. biblioracle-0714-20190710-2ykhjy4db5fangevs5ukax2dhm-story.html 

A new study shows that students learn way more effectively from print textbooks than screens

Insurance for Radiofrequency Radiation

Lloyd’s insurance company does not cover health damage caused by electromagnetic radiation. 7/2/15.

Insurers exclude risks associated with electromagnetic radiation. Business Insurance  June 3, 2007.

Insurance Companies Keep Quiet About EMF Exclusion Clause. 5GTNews.

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