(March 15) – A breakthrough bill to help deliver more broadband internet service to rural Colorado received the voice-vote approval of the House of Representatives today.
SB18-002, sponsored in the House by Speaker Crisanta Duran and Majority Leader KC Becker, would send millions of dollars in broadband deployment grants to unserved parts of the state. Starting in 2019 and increasing for the next four years thereafter, funding would come from the High Cost Support Mechanism, a surcharge that is currently used to support some landline phone service in rural areas. The bill would shift that funding stream away from telephone poles and 19th-century technology and into fiber-optic cable and other 21st-century communications infrastructure.
Majority Leader Becker told the House of driving for long stretches through rural parts of her district, which stretches from Boulder to the Wyoming border, with no broadband service. “This has an impact on rural Coloradans’ everyday lives,” she said, calling for passage of the bill “to meet the educational needs of our students, meet our hospital and healthcare needs, meet small business needs.”
“Colorado has one of strongest economies in the country,” Speaker Duran said. “We need to make sure that economic growth and opportunity are felt in every single community, including our rural communities.”
After a recorded vote in the House, SB18-002 will go back to the Senate for consideration of House amendments.