Colorado governor Jared Polis signed a bill this week that is expected to put the state in a better position to obtain upcoming broadband funding.
Senate Bill 23-183 removes what the Governor’s Office of Information Technology calls the biggest barrier to providing state residents with broadband by making it easier to use federal funds for capital projects and digital adoption programs.
SB05-152, a law created in 2005, prohibited the use of municipal or county money for infrastructure to improve local broadband service without obtaining voter approval to opt out. In other words, local governments had to obtain voter approval to be involved in deploying broadband services.
The revision signed into law this week removes that obstacle by allowing local governments to provide broadband service on their own or in partnership with service providers without holding a local election.
“Today, the state took a big step in establishing a competitive economy for generations to come. SB23-183 removes the biggest obstacle to achieving the Governor’s goal to connect 99% of Colorado households by the end of 2027,” Colorado Broadband Office Executive Director Brandy Reitter said in a press release.
“Each local government is in a unique position or different phase of connecting residents to high-speed internet, and this bill allows them to establish broadband plans that meet the needs of their communities.”
The Governor’s Office of Information Technology said that the new law removes a major barrier to connecting all Colorado households and businesses to high-speed internet.
The opportunities clearly will expand. The office cites the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) Program and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program as sources of funding going forward.
The state of Colorado has recognized the importance of broadband for several years. Back in 2017, we talked to state officials about funding programs that the state had established to help expand broadband.