California’s Central Valley State Senator Andreas Borgeas announces initial legislative agenda for 2021 – includes Rural Internet Connectivity Act and Shield Business and Schools Act

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December 3, 2020 – SACRAMENTO – Wednesday, Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) revealed the major legislative initiatives he will introduce for the 2021-22 legislative session. These proposals aim to provide relief and assistance to people and businesses impacted by COVID-19, improve wildfire response capabilities, and provide services to rural California.

“California needs to focus on coming back as we wait for vaccine distribution and fight the pandemic,” said Senator Borgeas. “I intend to tackle California’s most pressing issues and make progress toward revitalizing our economy while protecting the health and safety of our community. I look forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to gain their support on these measures.

Below are a number of measures in Senator Borgeas’ bill. (Note: these invoices are pending invoice assignment numbers):

Upholding California Labor Law – With the Governor’s recently announced proposal to provide $500 million in small business grants, California deserves a more aggressive investment in business relief efforts to revitalize our economy. The Keep California Working Act would invest $2.6 billion (10% of California’s projected surplus) in grants to help small businesses that have suffered financial losses. This bill will be presented with an emergency clause so that it can come into force as soon as it is approved.

Protection of Businesses and Schools Act – California businesses, schools and workers have taken extraordinary precautions to protect their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, two bipartisan measures that I supported and helped develop, AB 1035 and AB 1384, would have provided legal protections for schools, businesses and their employees from third-party lawsuits as long as they followed state and local health protocols. These have never been heard in the Senate. Under this law, these proposals will be reintroduced and will encourage businesses and school sites to comply with the guidelines while protecting them from predatory lawsuits related to COVID-19.

California Small Business Equity Act – Last year I presented Senate Bill 1457, which would have encouraged state agencies to work with small businesses and establish policies to remove or reduce civil penalties and fines. This bill received unanimous support in the Senate, was passed by the House Appropriations Committee, but was not granted by the House Appropriations Committee. I intend to reintroduce this bill to provide regulatory relief for businesses, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disaster Response and Reform Act – With record wildfires in the midst of a global pandemic, many challenges have arisen during evacuation and emergency response efforts. For example, thousands of residents were evacuated during the Creek Fire near Shaver Lake, but concerns existed about potential transmission of COVID-19. As agencies and organizations rose to the challenge of helping residents safely, this legislation would require the state to develop protocols in case two public emergencies escalate and further complicate victim assistance efforts.

Rural Internet Connectivity Act – COVID-19 has highlighted the disparities that exist in rural communities when it comes to internet accessibility. As schools transition in and out of remote learning, students without internet access are falling behind at an alarming rate. This bill would launch efforts to extend broadband service to remote rural areas of California.
Source: Senator Andreas Borgeas

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