Bill Text: WV HB4015 | 2020 | Regular Session | Enrolled

Bill Title: Relating to Broadband Enhancement and Expansion

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 11-0)

Status: (Passed) 2020-04-15 - Chapter 36, Acts, Regular Session, 2020 [HB4015 Detail]

Download: West_Virginia-2020-HB4015-Enrolled.html

WEST virginia legislature

2020 regular session


Committee Substitute


House Bill 4015

By Delegates Linville, Atkinson, Barnhart, D. Kelly, Maynard, Sypolt, Porterfield, Hanshaw (Mr. Speaker), Queen, Pack and Nelson

[Passed March 7, 2020; in effect ninety days from passage.]

AN ACT to amend and reenact §31G-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §31G-5-1, §31G-5-2, §31G-5-3, and §31G-5-4, all relating telecommunications and broadband; limiting the consecutive terms of the public members of the Broadband Enhancement Council; limiting the consecutive terms of the chair and vice-chair of the Broadband Enhancement Council; enacting the Vertical Real Estate Management and Availability Act; requiring the Department of Administration to coordinate with the Governor to seek proposals to manage state-owned vertical real estate; establishing how the vertical real estate is to be managed; defining “vertical real estate” as any structure that is suitable for the mounting of communications equipment and associated ground facilities; providing for a distribution of funds from leasing state-owned vertical real estate; and setting forth certain exceptions to the availability for management of state-owned vertical real estate.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:


§31G-1-3. Broadband Enhancement Council; members of council; administrative support.

(a) The Broadband Enhancement Council is hereby established and continued. The current members, funds, and personnel shall continue in effect and be wholly transferred; except as may be hereinafter provided. With regard to the terms of the public members appointed under subdivision five, subsection (d) of this section, at the next regular meeting of the council following July 1, 2017, the currently serving public members shall draw by lot for the length of their terms, three members to serve for one additional year, three members to serve for two additional years and the last three members to serve for three additional years, with all public members in future to serve for the duration of the term described below.

(b) The council is a governmental instrumentality of the State. The exercise by the council of the powers conferred by this article and the carrying out of its purpose and duties are considered and held to be, and are hereby determined to be, essential governmental functions and for a public purpose. The council is created under the Department of Commerce for administrative, personnel, and technical support services only.

(c) The council shall consist of 13 voting members, designated as follows:

(1) The Secretary of Commerce or his or her designee;

(2) The Chief Technology Officer or his or her designee;

(3) The Vice Chancellor for Administration of the Higher Education Policy Commission or his or her designee;

(4) The State Superintendent of Schools or his or her designee;

(5) Nine public members that shall serve no more than three consecutive three-year terms from the date of their appointment and are appointed by and serve at the will and pleasure of the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, as follows:

(i) One member representing users of large amounts of broadband services in this state;

(ii) One member from each congressional district representing rural business users in this state;

(iii) One member from each congressional district representing rural residential users in this state;

(iv) One member representing urban business users in this state; and

(v) One member representing urban residential users in this state; and

(6) Additionally, the President of the Senate shall name two Senators from the West Virginia Senate, one from each party, and the Speaker of the House shall name two Delegates from the West Virginia House of Delegates, one from each party, each to serve in the capacity of ex officio, nonvoting advisory members of the council.

(d) The Secretary of Commerce shall chair the first meeting at which time a chair and vice chair shall be elected from the members of the council for a term of two years: Provided, That a chair or vice-chair may not serve more than two consecutive full or partial terms in that capacity. In the absence of the chair, the vice chair shall serve as chair. The council shall appoint a secretary-treasurer who need not be a member of the council and who, among other tasks or functions designated by the council, shall keep records of its proceedings.

(e) The council may appoint committees or subcommittees to investigate and make recommendations to the full council. Members of these committees or subcommittees need not be members of the council.

(f) Seven voting members of the council constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of a simple majority of those members present is necessary for any action taken by vote of the council.

(g) The gubernatorial appointed members shall be deemed part-time public officials, and may pursue and engage in another business or occupation or gainful employment. Any person employed by, owning an interest in, or otherwise associated with a broadband deployment project, project sponsor, or project participant may serve as a council member and is not disqualified from serving as a council member because of a conflict of interest prohibited under §6B-2-5 of this code and is not subject to prosecution for violation of that section when the violation is created solely as a result of his or her relationship with the broadband deployment project, project sponsor, or project participant so long as the member recuses himself or herself from board participation regarding the conflicting issue in the manner set forth in §6B-2-5 of this code and the legislative rules promulgated by the West Virginia Ethics Commission.

(h) No member of the council who serves by virtue of his or her office may receive any compensation or reimbursement of expenses for serving as a member. The public members and members of any committees or subcommittees are entitled to be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred for each day or portion thereof engaged in the discharge of his or her official duties in a manner consistent with the guidelines of the Travel Management Office of the Department of Administration.

(i) No person is subject to antitrust or unfair competition liability based on membership or participation in the council, which provides an essential governmental function and enjoys state action immunity.


§31G-5-1. Short title.

This article shall be known and cited as the Vertical Real Estate Management and Availability Act.

§31G-5-2. Definitions.

For the purposes of this article unless the context otherwise requires:

“Ground facilities” means any shed, buildings, server rooms, or other ancillary structure providing essential services to a tower, including, but not limited to, distributing power, providing communications backhaul, or other service necessary to carry out the purposes of the tower.

“Tower” means a structure which hosts an antenna or other equipment used for the purposes of transmitting cellular or wireless signals for communications purposes, including telephonically, or, for computing purposes, including any antenna and all associated equipment; and

“Vertical Real Estate” means any communication or broadcast tower, or any other structure or similar installation mounted on a rooftop or other prominent place, and any other such facilities associated with that structure, upon which is suitable to mount communications equipment thereon, and the associated ground facilities necessary to accommodate that communications purpose, or other real estate suitable for the installation of a telecommunications vertical asset: Provided, That any excess telecommunications facilities owned or controlled by the West Virginia Division of Highways that do not meet this definition of Vertical Real Estate, shall be subject to the provisions of §17-2E-6a of this code: Provided further, That nothing in this definition may serve to prohibit terrestrial, middle-mile or last-mile broadband or high speed internet wiring or facilities installation pursuant to §17-2E-1 et seq. nor may classification as such facilities serve to prevent utility installation including, but not limited to, water, electric and sewer services.

§31G-5-3. Management of vertical real estate.

(a) Beginning on July 1, 2020, the Department of Administration shall coordinate with the executive to issue a request for proposals to manage state-owned vertical real estate. This request for proposals shall contain at a minimum the following information from each prospective manager:

(1) A standard method for valuation of space on each tower that is reasonable and customary for the reach of and the numbers of the population served by the vertical real estate.

(2) A clause which forbids any vendor to enter into an exclusive arrangement with any person for the right to use the vertical real estate, unless no other entity is interested, and a clause which forbids the sharing of information, backhaul, or any other resources gleaned from managing the assets competitively with any competitors.

(3) A clause forbidding the vendor from engaging in any preferential treatment to their own operations as a competing provider of wireless broadband access.

(4) A minimum of 50 percent rental reduction for any entity whose utilization of that vertical real estate is providing broadband access which is rate unlimited or unthrottled; subject to current load/demand network management.

(b) There is hereby created in the state treasury a special account to be known as the Technology Infrastructure Reinvestment Fund to be administered by the Office of Technology. All revenue derived from the management of the vertical real estate shall be deposited into the fund pursuant to §31G-5-3 of this code. Expenditures from the fund shall be made by the Office of Technology for the purpose of reinvestment in the vertical real estate or technology infrastructure supporting broadband on state-owned property. Expenditures are not authorized from collections but are to be made in accordance with appropriation by the Legislature pursuant to the provisions of §12-3-1, et seq. of this code and upon the fulfillment of the provisions of §11B-2-1, et seq. of this code.

(c) The Office of Technology shall remit to the manager the compensation as per the contract and then on June 30 each year shall distribute any funds received in excess of the compensation due the manager as follows:

(1) Fifty percent to the Technology Infrastructure Reinvestment Fund,

            (2) Fifty percent will go to the Broadband Expansion Fund established in §31G-1-5 of this code in control of the Broadband Enhancement Council with the specific purpose of:

            (A) Funding the ongoing operations of the Broadband Enhancement Council, and

            (B) To provide funds to match federal grants.

            (d) Counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions, as applicable, may join or participate in an awarded agreement with a successful manager under the same terms and conditions: Provided, That distribution of funds attributable to their assets may be expended at the discretion of their governing body.

§31G-5-4. Exceptions to the management of vertical real estate.

Any vertical real estate shall be exempted from management if:

(A) The rental of that vertical real estate would potentially affect the operations of any public safety, emergency management or homeland security operations: Provided, That if there is a showing that a reasonable, technically feasible, nondiscriminatory design can prevent such adverse effect on any public safety, emergency management or homeland security operations then such management may occur; or

(B) It would have an adverse effect on historic preservation of a property: Provided, That if there is a showing that a reasonable, technically feasible, nondiscriminatory, and technologically neutral design or concealment measures can prevent such adverse effect on the property’s historic preservations then such management may occur.