The House Transportation and Local Government Committee today advanced a bill to help close the digital divide and fund broadband development throughout the state. This bill is part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. The bill passed by a vote of 9-1.
“Access to quality internet was already a basic necessity well before COVID made us transition to online work, school, telehealth, and more,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “Today we seized a unique opportunity to leverage state dollars to help bridge the digital divide and increase access to reliable internet across the state. This bill is good for businesses, good for students, good for rural Colorado and good for a sustainable economic recovery.”
HB21-1289 creates the Colorado Broadband Office and grant programs in various departments to support broadband infrastructure development. It provides $75M to increase internet access across Colorado through the deployment of devices, and the development of middle and last mile infrastructure to support services that have become a necessity during the pandemic, like telehealth. The bill specifically includes $20M for broadband deployment by the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Tribes.