HARRISBURG – The House Consumer Affairs Committee today approved legislation authored by Reps. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) and Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) to continue their push to bring much-needed broadband service to the Northern Tier.
House Bill 2071
would establish the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority to facilitate funds anticipated through a federal infrastructure bill recently approved by Congress. The Commonwealth is expected to receive at least $100 million initially with the potential to obtain more after the authority develops a statewide plan for broadband expansion.
“Access to high-speed internet is not a luxury but a necessity for our students and teachers, our farmers and business owners, and our doctors and patients,” Causer said. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to finally see the kind of investment we need to get quality broadband service to people across rural Pennsylvania and it’s vital we make sure that money is spent wisely.”
The authority would serve as a single point of contact for parties interested in developing broadband or having broadband developed, helping to minimize duplication and maximize the use of existing infrastructure. The authority would also be charged with identifying access to funding sources and help coordinate joint efforts for broadband buildout.
“This authority and the role it would play in coordinating broadband development in the Commonwealth is exactly what we need to be successful,” Owlett said. “It will help bring all parties to the table and facilitate the cooperation and accountability we need to finally get broadband service to the ‘last mile.’”
“If there was ever any doubt, the pandemic has shown leaders in Harrisburg and Washington that broadband is absolutely necessary to meet the needs of our communities,” Pickett said. “I am encouraged by the investments being made and look forward to seeing our rural students, residents and businesses get the kind of internet service they need and deserve.”
The lawmakers noted the law creating the authority would sunset after six years.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
Representative Martin T. Causer
67th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Representative Clint Owlett
68th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Representative Tina Pickett
110th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler