Today, the Senate approved the bipartisan Rural Broadband Jobs Act sponsored by Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass). This bill aims to improve internet access in underserved areas by mapping rural areas, and developing recommendations for providing reliable broadband availability. Currently, many areas in Colorado only have access to dated or unreliable Internet service, and some areas have no internet access at all. This bill will help the state increase access to broadband and ensure businesses in all regions of the Colorado have the opportunity to be competitive and successful.
Senator Schwarz offered the following comment on the passage of the Rural Broadband Jobs Act today:
“The passage of this legislation will allow us to gather important data to ensure that all our communities have 21st Century broadband access. It is essential to Colorado’s continued economic growth that all of our schools, hospitals and businesses, urban or rural, have all the necessary tools to be competitive and successful.”
The Rural Broadband Jobs Act charges the Office of Information Technology (OIT) with indentifying underserved areas and developing a strategic plan to bring service to these areas. The Office of Information Technology will collaborate with local governments, broadband access providers, and stakeholders to develop recommendations to maximize broadband connectivity in Colorado’s underserved markets.
Rich Moorhead, CEO of Monarch Mountain, offered the following support for the Rural Broadband Jobs Act:
“Business growth is currently inhibited by a lack of broadband service in our area. With better broadband access, we could attract new businesses and create more jobs in existing small businesses. Our area is also heavily reliant on tourism and our guests expect to have connectivity. In addition to the economic impact, Senator Schwartz’s bill would mean a lot to our rural communities in terms of better emergency services, better medical care and better educational opportunities for our youth.”
The Rural Broadband Jobs Act is part of the Senate Majority’s “Colorado Works Jobs Package,” a series of bills focused on increasing employment in the state. This bill will now go to the House where it is sponsored by Representative Don Coram (R-Montrose).