A bill authored by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) aiming to close the "digital divide" among California students moved out of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation with unanimous bipartisan support on Monday.
Assembly Bill 2626 would provide cash-strapped school districts that are buying distance learning tools for students with financial relief by eliminating the sales tax on district purchases for devices like laptops and tablets, and mobile hotspots.
By reducing the upfront costs for current technology, Bauer-Kahan said that the bill would "level the playing field" and "bring equitable access to distance learning" for one in five California students -- or 1.2 children throughout the state -- without broadband internet or a computer to access remote learning.
“This will allow school districts to make purchases to transition to distance learning without paying upfront costs that could otherwise prevent them from closing the digital divide. We do not know when school instruction will resume as normal, however, we need to act now to ensure our students are able to receive their education and do not fall behind," Bauer-Kahan said in a statement.
AB 2626 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee next month.