HARRISBURG — Working to bring broadband infrastructure and connectivity to rural communities in the 67th Legislative District and across the Northern Tier, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) has introduced legislation to establish the Rural Pennsylvania Broadband Deployment Act.
“Access to high-speed internet is not a luxury but a necessity for our students and teachers, our farmers and business owners, and our doctors and patients,” Causer said. “With the issue finally getting the attention it deserves, both the president and the governor have pledged funding to address broadband infrastructure, and we need to make sure those dollars are invested in communities like ours where they are needed the most.”
House Bill 2293 would establish a new fund within the State Treasury into which federal (and other) funding can be deposited to use for deployment of rural broadband/high-speed internet services. The legislation would also create an advisory board within the Department of Community and Economic Development to not only investigate and make recommendations for the improved deployment of these services, but also to solicit, review and recommend proposals to use the funding.
“It is important to have the fund and advisory board in place to ensure dollars dedicated to rural broadband deployment are directed to the most underserved areas of the Commonwealth,” Causer said.
The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee for consideration.
Causer noted several other rural broadband initiatives are under consideration in the state House. Those bills would:
Conduct an in-depth investigation and audit into the compliance of non-rural telecommunication carriers with Act 67 of 1993 and Act 183 of 2004.
Establish a special bipartisan, bicameral legislative commission to recommend improvements to the deployment of high-speed broadband services in unserved and underserved areas.
Inventory all state department, agency, commission or institution-owned communication towers, poles, buildings and facilities to leverage existing state-owned assets for the provisioning of high-speed broadband internet to unserved and underserved areas.
Audit the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s administration of the E-Fund, a six-year education technology program that was to address network modernization plans.