HB 2638 Modifies provisions relating to broadband services

Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -


HCS/HB 2638 - This act modifies provisions relating to broadband services.

BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL (Section 1.512)

This act establishes the Broadband Development Council with responsibilities including exploring ways to expand access to broadband service and the potential for increased use of broadband for education, career readiness, workforce preparation, and alternative career training.

The Council shall make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding strategies to make broadband available to certain communities and statutory changes needed to enhance broadband access in the state.

The Council shall submit a report to the General Assembly and the Governor on or before January 1st of each year summarizing the actions of the Council the previous year.

The Council shall establish a mapping of broadband services in the state based on analysis of data, demand, and other relevant information and publish an interactive public map that provides certain information. The Council shall publish an annual assessment and map of the status of broadband that shall specifically designate underserved and unserved areas of the state.

RETURN OF FEDERAL FUNDS (Section 1.513)

The Attorney General is authorized to seek the return of broadband funding from any provider that defaults or breaches agreements to deploy broadband. The Office of Broadband Development may adjudicate such matters consistent with state law. Providers who default in any state shall provide notice to the Office and there shall be a presumption of default in Missouri as specified in the act.

INTERNET ACCESS IN THE STATE CAPITOL (Section 8.055)

Beginning January 1, 2024, high speed wi-fi internet access shall be provided to the public within the State Capitol building and on Capitol grounds.

This provision is identical to HB 2817 (2022).

VERTICAL REAL ESTATE MANAGEMENT (Section 8.475)

Under the act, any political subdivision is authorized to erect vertical real estate or towers, as such terms are defined in the act, on its property unless otherwise proscribed by law. Such political subdivisions are also authorized to enter into public-private partnerships in order to effectuation construction of vertical real estate or towers.

This provision is similar to HB 2588 (2022).

BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS (Section 67.485)

The act allows any two or more political subdivisions to form a broadband infrastructure improvement district which shall have power to contract with broadband service providers and expand service using grants, loans, bonds, and user fees.

The formation of a district is subject to local election as specified in the act, but districts shall not have the power to tax or levy upon property. The requirements for membership and governance of the district governing board are specified in the act. The board of a district may allow the inclusion of a private entity, as defined in the act, in the district. The board shall specify certain terms and conditions if it grants inclusion of a private entity in the district.

A private entity may finance the expansion of internet service if the financing method does not negatively impact the cost of service provided to the residents, customers, or ratepayers.

This provision is similar to HB 2353 (2022).

BROADBAND INTERNET GRANT PROGRAM (Sections 620.2450 & 620.2451)

This act modifies provisions of the Broadband Internet Grant Program to expand broadband internet access in unserved and underserved areas of the state to include improving the reliability of broadband in such areas.

The act adds a definition for "project" and modifies the definition of "underserved area", which is now defined as a project area without access to wireline or fixed wireless broadband internet service of speeds of the higher of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload or the minimum speed established by the Federal Communications Commission. The definition of "unserved area" is also modified to mean a project area without access to wireline or fixed wireless broadband internet services of speeds of at least 25 Mpbs download and 3 Mbps upload.

Grants awarded under the program shall prioritize projects providing speeds of the higher of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload that is scalable to higher speeds or the minimum acceptable speed established by the Federal Communications Commission.

The funds awarded by the Department of Economic Development for the purposes of the grant program shall require the entity to use the funds specifically for purposes set forth in the grant.

These provisions are similar to HB 2675 (2022) and SB 981 (2022).

BROADBAND INTERNET GRANT PROGRAM (Section 620.2453)

for an application to receive grant moneys from the Broadband Internet Grant Program to expand access to broadband internet service in unserved and underserved areas of the state to be considered, an applicant shall provide the Department of Economic Development with data, in a format determined by the Department, of where the applicant currently provides broadband internet service in the state.

This provision is similar to HB 2645 (2022), HB 2609 (2022), and SB 1081 (2022).

HIGH-SPEED INTERNET (Section 620.2465)

The Department of Economic Development shall implement a program to increase high-speed internet access in unserved and underserved areas.

This provision is similar to HB 2737 (2022).

OFFICE OF BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT (Section 620.2468)

Under the act, the Office of Broadband Development shall have the authority to engage in site inspections of broadband providers that have received grants or loans for projects from the office. The authority to inspect shall last until the project is complete and operational.

This provision is identical to HB 2563 (2022).

OFFICE OF BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT (Section 1)

Finally, the act establishes the Office of Broadband Development within the Department of Economic Development.

JAMIE ANDREWS


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