Tuesday, February 27, 2007

House Bill 72 would create Broadband Task Force

A bipartisan group of fifteen Ohio House members, led by Representative Clyde Evans (R- Rio Grande), has introduced House Bill 72 to create the "Ohio Broadband and Wireless Telecommunications Task Force".

The Task Force would "examine and make recommendations on the availability of broadband and wireless telecommunications in Ohio and any economic impact such availability creates, the present or future availability of broadband and wireless telecommunications in all Ohio counties, and any other issues the Task Force deems appropriate". It would have a year to complete its work and issue a report to the leaders of the Ohio Senate and House and the Governor.

Task Force members would include
  • two members each from the Senate and House (two Republicans, two Democrats);
  • representatives from the Departments of Development, Natural Resources, and Commerce, the PUCO, the Office of Consumers Counsel, the Ohio Municipal League, the Ohio Township Association and the County Commissioners' Association; and
  • seven other members appointed by the Governor, of whom four would represent provider industries.
Besides Evans, co-sponsors of HB 72 include Republicans Cliff Hite, Jimmy Stewart, Eric Combs, David Daniels, Jim McGregor, Gerald Stebelton, Diana Fessler, and Shawn Webster, and Democrats Jennifer Garrison, Dan Dodd, Kathleen Chandler, Allan Sayre, Michael Skindell, and Lorraine Fende.


Anonymous said...

What's your opinion of the proposed authority, Bill?

Bill Callahan said...

Dear anonymous: We report, you decide.

Just kidding.

The Evans bill doesn't create an "authority", just a task force to make policy recommendations. It's got a year to make its recommendations to the two houses and the Governor.

A year is a long time, and I'm sure the administration (and others) will be taking non-legislative action on the broadband deployment front long before the task force is finished. But the task force isn't likely to impede that process, and it will get representatives of the two parties, the two branches of government and various others at the same table to look at longer-term issues. Evans himself is primarily concerned about rural broadband access, a problem which is not going to be fully solved in the next twelve months under any circumstances. I think it's a useful initiative that will help to elevate the broadband access issue and keep it nonpartisan.

At the same time, I'd argue for more than just three task force seats for "interested parties" that are users rather than governments or providers: farmers, low-income consumers, educators, community technology programs, to name a few.