State Legislature passes broadband bill

Today the Washington State Legislature approved broadband legislation which will help bring new high-speed internet access to residents, businesses, educational institutions, public health and safety services, local governments and community organizations in underserved parts of Washington State. The bill, HB1701 (pdf) was originally sponsored by Reps. Zack Hudgins and Bob Hasegawa, and will depend on federal stimulus funding for much of its impact. Background here and a summary of the bill below.

The new law directs the Department of Information Services to develop a map of where broadband services are and are not currently available in Washington State, and to work with other agencies to identify the communities most in need of new or additional broadband Internet services. The legislation also creates a Community Technology Opportunity program which will promote internet adoption, digital inclusion and digital media literacy in low-income and underserved areas of the state, in part through a competitive matching grant program similar to the City of Seattle's Community Technology Center program. Finally, the law calls for reconstituting the state's high-speed internet working group, which held several planning meetings last year, as the Advisory Council on Digital Inclusion. With representation from government, educational, public health and industry sectors, the council will advise DIS and further strategize about expanding broadband deployment and adoption across the state.

Here is the Progressive States Network's summary of the bill.

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