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LaSata plan encourages collaboration, broadband investment in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Kim LaSata on Thursday introduced legislation to address the lack of broadband investment in Michigan and encourage collaboration between municipalities and broadband providers to expand access for Michigan residents.

“This is something my office has been working on with local communities for some time, and I am excited to see this statewide effort beginning to take shape,” said Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Niles. “This plan provides various avenues for funding to help make it successful and encourages localities to work with broadband providers to meet their specific local needs.”

Senate Bill 970, introduced by LaSata, would establish the County Broadband Completion Program to help support projects to improve broadband access across the state. The measure could utilize multiple funding streams, including a state appropriation, but could largely be funded through a requirement in the legislation that the state of Michigan apply for federal grant funding to help fund broadband expansion efforts.

Under the bill, interested counties must prepare an investment plan that identifies where broadband expansion is needed in the county and work with an internet service provider to make upgrades and meet the identified networking needs. Projects must be completed within 10 years of receiving grant funding or within federally required timeframes tied to federal funding.

“We have been working on expanding broadband access in Michigan, especially in rural areas, but unfortunately these efforts have been met with the governor’s veto pen,” LaSata said. “The reality is that we need to improve broadband investment in our state, especially as more and more daily tasks require reliable internet access.

“My office has had discussions with local officials in my district and across the state to come up with a meaningful effort that puts money on the table to get the job done.”

Various local organizations have voiced their support for the bill. It will be now referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Technology for testimony and further consideration.