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Across the Midwest, state legislators have heard stories about the promise of high-speed broadband, and the problems of having inadequate or no connections at all. In her home state, Sen. Jennifer Shilling says, family-owned dairies in rural Wisconsin have been able to expand product sales well beyond state and even national borders — thanks to having a strong Internet presence. But at the same time, she has talked to emergency responders in rural parts of her district who couldn’t find a nearby Internet connection reliable enough to simply complete a state-mandated certification course. 

Since the Super Committee failed to produce legislation to reduce the deficit, smaller yet extremely important issues have resurfaced in Congress. On Tuesday, Rep. Greg Walden introduced the Jumpstarting Opportunity through Broadband Spectrum, or JOBS, Act. The bill seems to be on the fast track to approval in the U.S. House, as this Thursday, the Committee on Energy and Commerce will take up the bill.

As state leaders begin to realize and utilize the incredible potential of technology to promote transparency, encourage citizen participation and bring real-time information to their constituents, one area may have been overlooked. Every state provides public access to their statutory material online, but only seven states provide access to official versions of their statutes online. This distinction may seem academic or even trivial, but it opens the door to a number of questions that go far beyond simply whether or not a resource has an official label.

The availability of high-speed access varies widely in the Midwestern states. 

As the U.S. moves toward a national broadband map, several states are undertaking mapping projects thanks to grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A national map will help states determine where broadband Internet actually exists and where it doesn’t, helping to expand access to areas that currently lack it.

State eNews Issue #42 | March 17, 2010
 

Communication and cooperation among federal agencies and states are essential to the success of a national broadband plan, which the Federal Communications Commission released March 16.

That was the message Irene Flannery of the FCC and Cynthia Schulz of the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration delivered at the National Association of State...

The gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" for those who have high-speed internet access continues to grow.  A number of federal, state, and local initiatives may help make universal broadband access a reality. 

State eNews Issue #37 | January 6, 2010

States are starting to see an influx of investment in broadband from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Obama administration on Dec. 17 announced $183 million in the first round of stimulus funds would go to 18 broadband projects in 17 states. Of the initial awards, $121.6 million went to middle mile projects, those connections to communities lacking sufficient broadband access...

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments calls upon the federal agencies distributing the broadband funding included in the ARRA to expressly mandate that broadband awareness, adoption, use, and digital literacy programs receive funding priority;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments calls upon the federal agencies implementing the broadband funding included in the ARRA to follow Congress’ clear legislative intent with respect to broadband adoption, use, and digital literacy treat the mandated minimum expenditure of $250 million for these purposes as a threshold level with a maximum limited only by the size of the broadband stimulus program itself.

Suggested State Legislation: Access to high speed Internet services is vital to America’s economy. Developing a comprehensive strategy to provide access statewide is a goal in most, if not all, states. Illinois and Minnesota are two states which are using a nonprofit organization to plan or manage the process to make it happen.

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