Keeping an eye on what’s happening on the federal level with the help of the Benton Foundation…
House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) announced a third series of bills introduced by subcommittee members on expanding broadband infrastructure in rural America. The bills aim to advance broadband deployment in disaster areas, as well as support innovation and remove obstacles to expansion.
- Restoring Economic Strength and Telecommunications Operations by Releasing Expected Dollars (RESTORED) Act (HR 4832), sponsored by Rep Kevin Cramer (R-ND), would permit companies eligible for funds under the Universal Service Fund’s High-Cost program to elect up to a 7-month advance payment of such funds to aid in the restoration of services in Presidentially-declared disaster areas.
- Connecting Communities Post Disasters Act (HR 4845), sponsored by Rep Pete Olson (R-TX), would provide a 5-year categorical exclusion from environmental and historical reviews for communications facilities in Presidentially-declared disaster areas to aid the replacement and improvements to such facilities.
- The Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure (HR 4842), sponsored by Rep John Shimkus (R-IL), would exempt broadband facilities from environmental and historic preservation reviews on federal property that have already granted another communications facility on the same property. The bill would exempt broadband facilities that meet certain parameters from environmental and historic preservation reviews in existing rights-of-way. The bill would exempt expansion of broadband facilities from environmental and historic preservation reviews if the expansion of the broadband facility is no more than 30 feet in any direction.
- Broadband Deployment Streamlining Act (HR 4847), sponsored by Rep Susan Brooks (R-IN), would direct the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to issue regulations within 1 year to streamline applications processes to locate or modify communications facilities on public lands. The bill would Amend Section 6409 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (47 USC 1455) to institute a firm shot clock by which applications must be granted or denied (an application is deemed granted if the agency fails to grant or deny within the allotted time). The bill Would require a GAO report evaluating accuracy and reliability of data collected for the National Broadband Map.
- H.Res. 701, sponsored by Rep Bill Flores (R-TX), expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that environmental and historic reviews of broadband facilities should be narrowly tailored and proportional to lands that are physically impacted by the deployment of such facilities.