HARRISBURG – Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of House Bill 2071 to improve access to high-speed internet in underserved communities by creating the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA).
The legislation would establish a single point-of-contact for federal broadband funding and includes safeguards so legitimate contractors are chosen. It would also provide oversight by the Auditor General.
Primarily, the PBDA would be tasked with creating a broadband plan that allows the state to apply for competitively awarded federal infrastructure money. The bill would also require the state to create a database to monitor all broadband deployment activities across the state. It also ensures that entities eligible for funding must have technical, managerial and financial expertise to design, build and operate high-speed service infrastructure.
“As we work to recover economically from the pandemic, improving broadband access for workers, employers and students is critical. Students from rural communities like the ones I represent have been at a severe disadvantage since the start of the pandemic when directed to do school at home because many do not have access to the internet. Moreover, if we want to attract quality employers to our state – and the family-sustaining jobs that they bring – we must provide an environment where they can conduct their business,” Senator Bartolotta said. “Passing this bill is a significant step in achieving this goal.”
The PBDA would be governed by 11 members, including five individuals representing both political parties of the Senate and House, as well as the governor. Subcommittees consisting of experts within the field may also be created.
Under the plan, the PBDA will dissolve within 10 years or when all federal funds are exhausted.
Having received support from the Senate, the bill heads back to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote before advancing to the governor’s desk for his signature.
CONTACT: Katrina Hanna, 717-787-1463