Hearings begin on Broadband Expansion Legislation
By AARON MULVEY
Ohio House of Representatives
COLUMBUS – State Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) is co-sponsoring House Bill 2, introduced to expand broadband access across the state with the creation of Ohio’s first Residential Broadband Expansion Program.
The bill provides grants to offset construction costs and facilitates the expansion of high-speed internet and broadband services to unserved households throughout Ohio.
“This legislation is an innovative step in the right direction to allow everyone across Ohio to have efficient broadband access,” said Swearingen. “With around one million Ohioans without dependent high-speed internet, this bill takes the initiative to work with state and broadband providers to offer a solution to this long-standing issue – it’s time we get this bill over the finish line for Ohioans to benefit from both educational and professional standpoints.”
House Bill 2 targets the issue of last mile connectivity to households where it remains cost-prohibitive for private providers to otherwise extend their service. Additionally, the legislation contains critical industry reforms designed to drive increased private investment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas. The industry reforms represent the culmination of good-faith meetings between legislators, internet service providers and Ohio’s Rural Electric Cooperatives.
The bill has strong support of both Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted, who recently pledged $290 million in their state biennial budget proposal to expand broadband access throughout Ohio.
The bipartisan legislation currently has nearly 30 cosponsors and has been introduced by State Reps. Rick Carfagna and Brian Stewart. The bill had its first hearing on Feb. 9 and had 14 proponents speak to it within the House Finance Committee meeting.
Swearingen is currently serving his first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He represents the 89th House District, which encompasses both Erie and Ottawa counties. For information, contact his office at 614-644-6011 or email email@example.com.
Aaron Mulvey is Majority Deputy Press Secretary for Ohio House of Representatives.