Today the Ways and Means heard from Representative Ecklund on HF 3029 (Broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation provided, and money appropriated). Ecklund’s bill was rolled into HF1507, as stated on the Ways & Means page…
BILL REMOVED: HF 3029 (Ecklund) Broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation provided, and money appropriated (pending referral)
NOTE: A decision has been made to package the four COVID-19 bills that were the agenda into a larger COVID-19 Economic Security Act package. HF 1507 will be the vehicle. A series of motions to move the language adopted in the individual bills into HF 1507 as separate articles will be made before HF 1507 moves out to General Register. At this point, HF 3029 (Ecklund) remains in the Rules Committee. The broadband proposal will be offered as an amendment to HF 1507.
The bill provides:
- $10 million for broadband grants
- $15 million for schools for distance education (up from original $8 million)
- $2 million for telehealth
Talking points seemed to be:
- Concern for where the money is coming from general funds or will federal CARES funding reimburse State.
- Confusion about if money goes to DEED or Department of Education; only the portion for broadband grants would be distributed through the Office of Broadband Development to end users.
- Wondering if funding for schools would serve all schools or just schools in unserved areas
There is a similar bill in the Senate (SF4494) that passed to Senate Floor on April 30, 2020.
There is clearly frustration from legislators working with the new online system, which makes the discussion on how to serve students who are suddenly working all-online – or at least remotely where online isn’t viable – so poignant.