IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Lawmaker Looks Ahead to Potential IT, Innovation Bills for Next Year’s Session

State Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, discussed the 2023-2024 legislative session as it may pertain to technology and innovation, with Industry Insider — California, and offered perspective on two bills of his that passed this year.

california capitol
This story is limited to Industry Insider — California members.
This story is limited to Industry Insider — California members. Login below to read this story or learn about membership.
The state Legislature may not currently be in session, but with lawmakers due to reconvene from the holidays in just more than two weeks, it’s safe to say California’s electeds have an increasingly clear idea of what the 2023-2024 session may mean for technology and innovation.

The Legislature reconvenes Jan. 4, and Industry Insider California connected with state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, recently, to learn what bills with significance to the IT sector he may bring forward next year, what IT- or innovation-related issues may be on the horizon for legislators, and to hear more about his slate of bills this year. Among the takeaways:

  • The lawmaker and his staff are still developing and refining his package of bills, Newman told Industry Insider via email, and he said two or three will have “substantial innovation and IT components.” First, he said, is a bill that would let candidates for public office “complement the written ballot statement for which they may be eligible under the provisions of Prop. 34 with a video version of their ballot statement.” The current concept, Newman said, would be to do a pilot program in one or more counties, “working with the registrar of voters to identify, work through, and build out the IT framework needed to facilitate such an approach, which we believe will promote a better informed and more engaged electorate.” A second proposed law would be a potential reintroduction of state Senate Bill 583, which would “implement a framework for back-end automatic voter registration” in the state, adding voters who might not have been enrolled via the existing “motor voter” system — and letting other state agencies “enroll eligible Californians with whom they may have contact” but whom the existing system might have missed. Third, Newman said, is a bill that would let residents pay an additional fee at the California Department of Motor Vehicles to make sure the photo on their driver’s license or ID is “one they actually like.” This, he said, would necessitate a modified workflow “either to have multiple photos from which to choose or where they could employ an outside vendor, as is currently done with passport photos ... .”
    “The other component of this concept is to then take the revenues generated and apply them to creating opportunities for young drivers who otherwise can’t afford private driving training instruction,” Newman said, pointing out free driver education is no longer offered in public schools.
  • The state senator highlighted several IT- or innovation-related issues that the Legislature might consider during the 2023-2024 session, which began in December. Implementing the expansion of broadband access, first enabled via SB 156 which lawmakers passed in 2021, will be challenging, he said, pointing out the state “doesn’t have an especially impressive record when it comes to execution, either on project completion or meeting budget goals.” The Cal-Access database, the subject of a recent oversight hearing by the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Reform on which he serves, is something Newman said he will be keeping an eye on. The database is, Newman said, “facing a series of challenges” in regards to managing the system while simultaneously updating it. The Senate Committee on Budget and Budget Subcommittee No. 5, on which he serves, has jurisdiction over public safety, transportation, and public pensions. Here, Newman said, “there are likely to be a whole host of data- and IT-related issues which come before us in the coming budget cycle, especially given the current fiscal projections which are likely to entail some difficult choices on allocations and prioritization.”
    “At a global level, in a state as large and diverse as California, where the costs of government programs are so large and where the impacts of even small-order changes can cause major fiscal ripple effects across multiple systems, data and the IT processes that collect, collate and assess programs are intrinsic to the effective operation of state government and its programs,” he said.
  • Newman discussed two pieces of legislation he carried last session and which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law. SB 855 creates the Childhood Drowning Data Collection Pilot Program — and it builds, the state senator said, on SB 442, which he authored in 2017 to, generally, improve the safety of pools and spas and prevent childhood drownings at residential pools. SB 855 gives the California Department of Public Health until Jan. 1, 2024, to put in place a Childhood Drowning Data Collection Pilot Program to gather “detailed data on childhood fatal and non-fatal drownings.” The bill “ ... takes action in the realm of data collection to address the previous lack of a statewide set of data collection and reporting protocols, the absence of which served as an impediment to assessing the efficacy of existing policies and devising new ones,” Newman said. Last session, he also authored SB 1193, which lets the California Department of Motor Vehicles, in situations where it has to “mail, notify, deliver via certified or first class mail” written information, satisfy that requirement “by electronic notification” so long as the person in question consents to electronic delivery. The bill, Newman said, “is consistent with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ commitment to modernizing the customer experience in a number of data-centric ways, including allowing customers the option to receive paperless notifications for certain transactions if they prefer; enabling veterans to apply online for a veteran designation on their license or identification card; and permitting vehicle sales professionals to renew their licenses online.”
    “These changes will reduce the number of required in-person transactions at the DMV, thereby reducing wait times while improving the customer experience and achieving overall efficiency,” he said.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.