By Danielle Davis
Beginning in March, the Senate Commerce Committee will move on infrastructure proposals that are likely to include broadband internet policies.
Several bills are already under consideration. On Jan. 30th, the House Energy and Commerce, Communications and Technology subcommittee held a legislative hearing on 25 bills and resolutions touching on broadband deployment.
A handful of proposals could impact states, such as:
- A resolution declaring support for the prioritizing of federal funding to wireless broadband providers in states that have enacted wireless small cell facility reforms.
- A bill restricting states ability to prohibit localities from providing municipal broadband.
- A bill that directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to publish best practices and model policy for a state implementing a one touch make ready policy.
- A bill that would provide additional funding for broadband deployment.
Also in the discussion will be the MOBILE NOW bill, sponsored by Senator Thune, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill recently passed by the Senate, and is pending in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. According to staff, the bills will likely move out of committee as a package proposal inclusive of a larger infrastructure deal.
As Congress continues to act on communications infrastructure bills, the FCC announced the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) upcoming open meeting. On April 25th the BDAC will consider recommendations and model codes from its working groups, including proposals from the Model Code for Municipalities working group and the Model Code for States working group. In addition, the BDAC will continue its discussions on how to accelerate the deployment of broadband by reducing or removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.
Earlier this year FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the BDAC recommendations would be a basis for FCC action. NCSL adopted a resolution requesting state representation on BDAC, and generally supports more state and local participation in the BDAC recommendation process.
With the eventual resignation of Mayor of San Jose and lack of consultation with the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (IAC), NCSL continues to have concerns around the recommendations of the BDAC and how it will be implemented by the FCC. Thus far, the BDAC approved a list of principles but a more comprehensive discussion draft will be considered in April. The meeting will be livestreamed.
Danielle Dean is policy director with NCSL’s Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce committee.