SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — The California Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee today passed SB 1160 and SB 1161 authored by Senator Alex Padilla with unanimous bipartisan support 13 to 0 and 12 to 0. SB 1160 would protect California consumers by preventing the arbitrary interruption of communications service. SB 1161 would affirm California’s growing role as the leader of the global Internet economy.

In August of 2011, the Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency (BART) shut down mobile services during public protests. Following the shut down, BART’s Board adopted a policy allowing an interruption of telecommunications services under certain circumstances. SB 1160 would protect the public’s access to 911 services and the right to use communication networks for any lawful communications. The bill’s provisions would be technology neutral and would apply to any service used for calling 911, including wireless and Internet-based services.

“Open and available communication networks are critical to public safety and a key element of a free and open society,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “For decades, California law has required a court order to interrupt or shut down traditional telephone service. SB 1160 would extend those protections to the modern telecommunication networks and preempt any local government or agency policy that allows shut down of service without court review.”

The second bill in the package (SB 1161) would affirm California’s role as the leader of the global Internet economy by continuing a policy that fosters innovation and growth in the new “app” economy and Internet-based voice, data and video services. The bill would also maintain Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) laws, which requires local exchange carriers to provide basic landline service to any customer upon request anywhere in the state and to provide Lifeline service to all eligible low-income customers. Additionally, SB 1161 ensures important consumer protections for voice over internet protocol (VOIP) as specified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Legislature, which include:

· Access to E-911 emergency service and 911 fees

· State universal service funding programs

· Providing services to people with hearing or speech disabilities

· Protection of confidential consumer calling information

· Backup power requirements

· Consumer phone number portability

· Notice for discontinuance of service

· Service outage monitoring and reporting

· Truth in Caller ID regulations

· Access to law enforcement

“Investment and innovation in apps and Internet-based services are a significant bright spot in California’s economic recovery. California ranks first in the amount of venture capital invested in research and development in the new “app” economy. This has translated into more than 43,000 jobs in Silicon Valley this past year. This bill will encourage more investment and stimulate more job creation in California.”

Senator Alex Padilla, 39, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 900,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District which includes most of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.