Washington Governor signs digital inclusion and broadband bill

[via David Keyes, Seattle Department of Information Technology]

On March 31st, Governor Christine Gregoire signed legislation creating a Washington State Community Technology Opportunity Program with an initial half million dollars for grants and capacity building. The legislation also legally defines community technology and digital inclusion, requires a state online directory of community tech programs, and establishes a planning process for broadband development and adoption.

The Community Technology Opportunity Program will be administered by the Washington State University Extension. The broadband portion of the legislation is funded at $197,000 and calls for state coordination and local planning teams with local government, business, education and community organization participation. This is a tremendous first step in developing critical and more sustainable help for underserved residents of the state.

The state Communities Connect Network (CCN) was instrumental in providing
expertise to policymakers on the needs and impact of community
technology in the state. Research by the University of Washington for CCN, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, showed the
importance of community technology learning centers to individuals,
families and communities, with more than one million visits per year. The most compelling arguments for legislation were presented by the community technology providers from around the state, some of whom participated in CCN messaging training prior to testifying.

The community technology legislation was supported by a broad constituency, including the Washington Technology Industry Association and the City of Seattle. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) played a major role in advancing the broadband planning effort. Seattle Representative Zack Hudgins led the effort towards passage of the final bill with Rep. John McCoy. Rep. Claudia Kauffman sponsored the community tech bill and Sen. Kohl-Welles sponsored the initial broadband legislation. This historic legislation was really made possible by many in the legislature and governor*s office and caring providers, clients and supporters across the state.

See more at the City of Seattle Community Technology Program home page, and at the Communities Connect site.

Read the legislation here.

article originally published at .

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