Despite the Legislature passing bipartisan broadband legislation in 2019, access to reliable internet is a concern to many working families, seniors, and small businesses in SW Washington.
Last year, Second Substitute Senate Bill 5511 established the Governor’s Statewide Broadband Office and required the Public Works Board to establish a competitive grant and loan program to promote access to broadband service to unserved and underserved areas, which includes many areas in SW Washington and the 20th District.
Senate Bill 5511 was a step forward, but COVID-19 has exposed greater vulnerability and inequity in rural Washington. We need a leap, not just a step, forward. Rather than funding individual and unconnected projects, we must address rural broadband regionally through more comprehensive infrastructure planning and investments.
The lack of reliable and accessible internet is about equity for our students trying to earn a quality education, seniors trying to stay connected with enrichment programs, businesses trying to compete nationally and globally, and medical providers trying to treat vulnerable patients through telemedicine.Peter Abbarno, candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.
In a recent Daily News article, (September 22, 2020), Abbarno suggested using a “large infrastructure package” to connect Lewis, Thurston and Cowlitz counties to better broadband connections already established in the Vancouver area. “What we need to do with rural broadband is we need to start thinking more regionally and not piecemeal rural broadband together,” Abbarno said.
Reliable and accessible internet is among the top issues I discuss with families, seniors, the medical community, and small businesses in the 20th District. As state representative, I will work with my colleagues from both parties to help provide better internet for all of SW Washington.Peter Abbarno, candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.
Current grant and loan programs include the Community Economic Revitalization Board Rural Broadband Program and the Public Works Board Broadband Construction Grants.