Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2017 session is in full swing. I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve for a second term as your state representative in the 9th District.
One major challenge we regularly face in our district, and throughout the rural areas of Washington state, is access to high-speed internet and broadband fiber. Our economic development, job growth, and overall personal well-being depends on the ability to access this essential service. I definitely understand this challenge firsthand, right alongside so many of you. I am focusing great effort toward creating opportunities to fix our limited access to broadband infrastructure.
I have introduced House Bill 1702. This bill is a proactive, concrete and dedicated effort to provide digital opportunities to our rural areas, through our ports. The bill would eliminate outdated rules and regulatory uncertainty in our current law.
In 1999, the Port of Whitman requested legislation to enable rural ports to install telecommunications facilities. This function added to the ports mission to enhance economic development through the construction of infrastructure. The request created RCW 53.08.005, 53.08.370 and 53.08.380 to allow ports and PUDs to build telecommunication infrastructure and offer it wholesale to service providers.
However, these statutes do not allow ports to build infrastructure to private homes within small communities along the 120 miles of the metropolitan areas of Spokane, Pullman and Clarkston.
What is HB 1702:
This bill would facilitate the build out of broadband fiber to the most remote, rural parts of eastern Washington, western Washington, and all the places in between, through our ports. This is the missing link in current statutes.
This would expand the telecommunications authority to ports within counties bordering the southern, eastern and northern borders of the state. It continues this authority to rural ports and ensures ports have assurances in the law.
This would further facilitate ports and retail telecommunications to build fiber networks. It would connect 200,000 people in rural areas of Washington state to high-speed broadband fiber.
How will it work?
Ports are great at building infrastructure. They are an enterprise form of government. They can help leverage telecommunications companies to provide internet services in places where it wouldn't normally be cost effective for them to do so.
This bill is just a tweak in what authority ports already have to contract with a telecommunications companies. This will allow them to enter into contracts to get fiber out to rural homes.
Rural communities would be able to attract companies and individuals to establish new business and opportunities. It provides for stable economic development and job growth.
The funding source:
Private dollars will fund this infrastructure. The bill will leverage some assets into the facilities through the ports that have already built the fiber. Ports will not be providing direct retail telecommunications but will have the contracting authority to collaborate with telecommunications providers.
This video will give you more information on HB 1702. Just click on the photo below to watch the video. Thank you!
I know many of you won't have service, or enough bandwidth, to watch this video. If that is you, please call my office!
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