I was in Sacramento on June 8 to speak on behalf of the Central City SRO Collaborative in opposition of AB 1407 at the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. AB 1407 would dramatically change the state’s Lifeline phone program by turning the service into a discount voucher of approximately $11.85 as opposed to a fixed monthly rate. CPUC oversight of low-income phone rates would be eliminated, putting California’s 1.2 million Lifeline users at the mercy of AT&T. Representatives from the CPUC, TURN, and the Greenling Institute also spoke against the bill. But lobbyists from AT&T and Verizon lobbyists greatly outnumbered us, and the committee voted 6 to 1 in support of the measure. The bill goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee in August, and appears headed for passage. The best hope for defeating this outrageous attack on the poor appears to be a veto by Governor Brown, whose pro-consumer CPUC appointees have supported the Lifeline program. The Los Angeles Times has a full account
of a story that highlights AT&T’s enormous influence with Democratic legislators.