Senate Republicans Make Statewide Prosperity a Top Focus

Denver -- In an opening-day demonstration of their commitment to assisting parts of rural Colorado that often feel left behind by the boom times enjoyed by the urbanized Front Range, Colorado Senate Republicans made a rural broadband expansion bill the second measure to be read across the desk on opening day of the 2018 legislative session. The only bill they made a higher priority, Senate Bill-1, is a tax hike-free roadway modernization package that also could have broad economic benefits, if approved by voters next fall.

 

In tandem, our first two bills of the session are meant to provide a double shot of economic assistance to rural parts of the state that often lag behind economically,” explained Senate Bill-2 author Don Coram (R-Montrose). “It’s our way of helping to bridge the urban-rural divide so that every part of the state prospers.”
SB-2’s major provisions include:
  • Ups the definition of “broadband internet” service from at least 4 megabits per second to at least 10 megabits per second, and includes in the definition of “unserved areas” places that are unincorporated, have less than 7,500 residents and do not receive federal broadband support
  • Makes changes in the way “high cost support mechanism” funds are allocated and broadband grants are made
  • Makes changes to ensure that funds are allocated fairly and dollars aren’t used to duplicate effort or “overbuild” in already-served areas

 

“Expanding broadband access is the only way we’re going to level the playing field across Colorado, and ensure that all Coloradans are players, not just spectators, in a growing economy,” added Coram.

 

Broadband access isn’t just about improving education in poorly-wired rural schools and enabling home-based businesses. It’s also about bringing telemedicine to areas that often suffer doctor shortages and providing farmers and ranchers with the instant data they need to identify new customers and open new markets for their products.

 

And improved internet access for rural Colorado also benefits overcrowded, high-cost urban Colorado, added Senate President Pro-Tem Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling). “If we want to reduce congestion in urban areas, we have to have a reliable internet so that businesses will locate in rural areas of the state,” he said. “Today’s entrepreneurs require modern technology to create and expand their business. Without broadband, those opportunities are lost to rural Colorado.”
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