Bill Text: TX HB1446 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to the expansion of broadband services to certain areas.

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2021-03-05 - Referred to State Affairs [HB1446 Detail]

Download: Texas-2021-HB1446-Introduced.html
  87R6584 BRG-D
 
  By: Ashby H.B. No. 1446
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the expansion of broadband services to certain areas.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 490H.002(a), Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (a)  The council is composed of one nonvoting member
  appointed by the broadband development office and the following 17
  voting members:
               (1)  two representatives of separate Internet service
  provider industry associations, including at least one
  representative of an association that primarily represents small
  providers, as defined by Section 56.032, Utilities Code, appointed
  by the governor;
               (2)  one representative of the health information
  technology industry, appointed by the governor;
               (3)  two representatives of unaffiliated nonprofit
  organizations that advocate for elderly persons statewide,
  appointed by the governor;
               (4)  two representatives of unaffiliated nonprofit
  organizations that have a demonstrated history of working with the
  legislature and the public to identify solutions for expanding
  broadband to rural, unserved areas of this state, appointed by the
  governor;
               (5)  one representative of an agricultural advocacy
  organization in this state, appointed by the governor;
               (6)  one representative of a hospital advocacy
  organization in this state, appointed by the governor;
               (7)  one representative of a medical advocacy
  organization in this state, appointed by the governor;
               (8)  one county official who serves in an elected
  office of a county with a population of less than 35,000, appointed
  by the governor;
               (9)  one municipal official who serves in an elected
  office of a municipality with a population of less than 20,000
  located in a county with a population of less than 60,000, appointed
  by the governor;
               (10)  one representative of an institution of higher
  education that has its main campus in a county with a population of
  less than 60,000, appointed by the governor;
               (11)  one representative of a school district with a
  territory that includes only counties with a population of less
  than 60,000, appointed by the governor;
               (12)  one representative from a library association,
  appointed by the governor;
               (13)  one member of the house of representatives,
  appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; and
               (14)  one state senator, appointed by the lieutenant
  governor.
         SECTION 2.  Section 490H.006(a), Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (a)  The council shall:
               (1)  research the progress of:
                     (A)  broadband development in unserved areas; and
                     (B)  deployment of broadband services statewide;
               (2)  identify barriers to residential and commercial
  broadband deployment in unserved areas;
               (3)  study:
                     (A)  technology-neutral solutions to overcome
  barriers identified under Subdivision (2); and
                     (B)  industry and technology trends in broadband
  services;
               (4)  analyze how statewide access to broadband would
  benefit:
                     (A)  economic development;
                     (B)  the delivery of educational opportunities in
  higher education and public education;
                     (C)  state and local law enforcement;
                     (D)  state emergency preparedness; and
                     (E)  the delivery of health care services,
  including telemedicine and telehealth; and
               (5)  study the outcomes of programs administered by the
  broadband development office.
         SECTION 3.  Subtitle F, Title 4, Government Code, is amended
  by adding Chapter 490I to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 490I. BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT OFFICE
         Sec. 490I.0101.  DEFINITION. In this chapter, "broadband
  service" means Internet service provided directly to end user
  retail customers and capable of providing:
               (1)  a download speed of 25 megabits per second or
  faster; and
               (2)  an upload speed of 3 megabits per second or faster.
         Sec. 490I.0102.  OFFICE. (a) The broadband development
  office is an office within the comptroller's office.
         (b)  The comptroller may employ additional employees
  necessary for the discharge of the duties of the broadband
  development office.
         (c)  The broadband development office:
               (1)  is under the direction and control of the
  comptroller;
               (2)  shall promote the policies enumerated in this
  chapter; and
               (3)  may perform any action authorized by state or
  federal law.
         Sec. 490I.0103.  POWERS AND DUTIES. The broadband
  development office shall:
               (1)  serve as a resource for information regarding
  broadband service in this state; and
               (2)  engage in outreach to communities regarding the
  expansion and adoption of broadband service and the programs
  administered by the office.
         Sec. 490I.0104.  BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT MAP. (a) The
  broadband development office shall create, update annually, and
  publish on the comptroller's Internet website a map designating
  each census block in this state as:
               (1)  an eligible area, if fewer than 80 percent of the
  addresses in the block have access to broadband service; or
               (2)  an ineligible area, if 80 percent or more of the
  addresses in the block have access to broadband service.
         (b)  The map must display:
               (1)  the number of broadband service providers that
  serve each census block; and
               (2)  for each eligible area, an indication of whether
  the area has access to Internet service that is not broadband
  service, regardless of the technology used to provide the service.
         (c)  Except as provided by Subsection (d), the office shall
  use information available from the Federal Communications
  Commission to create or update the map.
         (d)  If information from the Federal Communications
  Commission is not sufficient for the office to create or update the
  map, the office may request the necessary information from a
  political subdivision or broadband service provider, and the
  subdivision or provider shall report the information to the office.
  The office may not require a subdivision or provider to report
  information in a format that is substantially different from the
  format required by the Federal Communications Commission.
         (e)  Information a broadband service provider reports to the
  office under Subsection (d) is confidential and not subject to
  disclosure under Chapter 552. The office may not share information
  reported under Subsection (d) with a third party or contract with a
  third party to collect, analyze, or use information reported under
  Subsection (d).
         (f)  A broadband service provider or political subdivision
  may petition the office to redesignate a census block on the map as
  an eligible area or ineligible area. The office shall provide
  notice of the petition to each broadband service provider that
  provides broadband service to the census block and post notice of
  the petition on the comptroller's Internet website.
         (g)  Not later than the 45th day after the date that a
  broadband provider receives notice under Subsection (f), the
  provider shall provide information to the office showing whether
  the census block should or should not be redesignated.
         (h)  Not later than the 75th day after the date that a
  broadband provider receives notice under Subsection (f), the office
  shall determine whether to redesignate the census block on the map
  and update the map as necessary. A determination made by the office
  under this subsection is not a contested case for purposes of
  Chapter 2001.
         (i)  The office is not required to create, update, or publish
  a map under this section if the Federal Communications Commission
  produces a map that:
               (1)  enables the office to identify eligible and
  ineligible areas, as described by Subsection (a); and
               (2)  meets the requirements of Subsection (b).
         Sec. 490I.0105.  BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. (a) The
  broadband development office shall establish a program to award
  grants, low-interest loans, and other financial incentives to
  applicants for the purpose of expanding access to and adoption of
  broadband service in census blocks determined to be eligible areas
  by the office under Section 490I.0104.
         (b)  The office shall establish and publish eligibility
  criteria for award recipients. The criteria must require that
  grants, loans, and other financial incentives awarded through the
  program be used only for capital expenses, purchase or lease of
  property, and other expenses, including backhaul and transport,
  that will facilitate the provision or adoption of broadband
  service.
         (c)  The office may not:
               (1)  favor a particular broadband technology in
  awarding grants, loans, or other financial incentives;
               (2)  award grants, loans, or other financial incentives
  to a broadband provider that does not report information requested
  by the office under Section 490I.0104;
               (3)  award a grant, loan, or other financial incentive
  to a noncommercial provider of broadband service for an eligible
  area if a commercial provider of broadband service has submitted an
  application for the eligible area; or
               (4)  take into consideration distributions from the
  state universal service fund established under Chapter 56,
  Utilities Code, when deciding to award grants, loans, or other
  financial incentives.
         (d)  An award granted under this section does not affect
  distributions received by a broadband provider from the state
  universal service fund established under Chapter 56, Utilities
  Code.
         Sec. 490I.0106.  BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT. (a) The
  broadband development account is an account in the general revenue
  fund.
         (b)  The account consists of:
               (1)  appropriations of money to the account by the
  legislature;
               (2)  gifts, donations, and grants, including federal
  grants; and
               (3)  interest earned on the investment of the money in
  the account.
         (c)  The comptroller shall deposit to the credit of the
  account federal money received by the state for the purpose of
  broadband development, to the extent permitted by federal law.
         (d)  Money in the account may be appropriated only to the
  broadband development office for purposes of:
               (1)  administering the broadband development program;
  or
               (2)  creating or updating the map described by Section
  490I.0104.
         (e)  The account is exempt from the application of Section
  404.071.
         Sec. 490I.0107.  RULEMAKING. The comptroller may adopt
  rules as necessary to implement this chapter.
         SECTION 4.  (a) Not later than the first anniversary of the
  effective date of this Act, the broadband development office
  established by Section 490I.0102, Government Code, as added by this
  Act, shall prepare a state broadband plan that establishes
  long-term goals for greater access to and adoption of broadband
  service in this state.
         (b)  In developing the state broadband plan, the office
  shall:
               (1)  collaborate, to the extent possible, with state
  agencies, political subdivisions, broadband industry stakeholders
  and representatives, and community organizations that focus on
  broadband services;
               (2)  incorporate the policy recommendations of the
  governor's broadband development council;
               (3)  favor policies that are technology-neutral and
  protect all members of the public; and
               (4)  explore state and regional approaches to broadband
  development.
         SECTION 5.  (a) The broadband development office
  established by Section 490I.0102, Government Code, as added by this
  Act, shall publish the map required by Section 490I.0104,
  Government Code, as added by this Act, on the comptroller's
  Internet website not later than September 1, 2022.
         (b)  Not later than January 1, 2022, the office shall publish
  on the comptroller's Internet website:
               (1)  a map created by the Federal Communications
  Commission that displays the number of broadband service providers
  that serve each census block; or
               (2)  a link to a map described by Subdivision (1) of
  this subsection.
         (c)  For the purpose of administering the broadband
  development program established by Section 490I.0105, Government
  Code, as added by this Act, the office shall use a map described by
  Subsection (b) of this section to determine whether an area is
  eligible until the office publishes the map required by Section
  490I.0104, Government Code, as added by this Act.
         SECTION 6.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
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