Kentucky Association of Counties

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The Kentucky Association of Counties

HB 320 heads to the Senate, provides $250 million in funding for broadband (1)

HB 320, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Reed and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Petrie, sets aside $250 million in funding to provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas in Kentucky and allows electric coops to deploy broadband services.

Prior to COVID-19, access to affordable broadband was a top issue for county leaders across the Commonwealth. Once COVID-19 hit and counties, schools and businesses transitioned to a virtual format, the need for affordable access became even more apparent and acute.

“It’s not really unlike electricity or gas and coal-fired combustion engines,” Calloway County Judge/Executive Kenny Imes told attendees of the 2020 KACo Conference. “It’s just as essential as anything we have anymore, and not enough focus has been placed on this need. If we don’t get a handle on it soon, the problem is going to get worse and more expensive for us to catch up.”

HB 320 provides critical funding, infusing the Broadband Deployment Fund with $250 million during fiscal year 2022. The Fund, administered by the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, was established last year to provide grants to government agencies and private entities to deploy broadband service in unserved and underserved areas.

HB 320 distributes $30 million to the Fund in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022, $70 million in the third quarter and $150 million in the fourth quarter. Money appropriated for the third and fourth quarters won’t be distributed until the funding appropriated for the previous quarter is awarded.

Funding for broadband projects will be awarded based on the following criteria (in the order listed):

  • Projects in underserved or unserved census blocks
  • Projects in areas that are not currently receiving federal broadband funds
  • Projects that reach the customers that are the least economical to serve

Funded projects will require a private match of at least 50 percent of the total project cost.

HB 320 also includes language that will allow electric cooperatives to deploy broadband, which could be a gamechanger in counties that don't have providers. "HB 320 will clear the way for rural electric cooperatives to feasibly provide broadband services to underserved and unserved households," said bill sponsor Rep. Reed. The bill passed in the House on Wednesday. 

Now that the bill is headed to the Senate, your legislators need to hear from you. Contact your Senators today and let them know how imperative broadband funding is for your community. Ask them to support this legislation, maintain funding in the Broadband Deployment Fund at $250 million and provide flexibility for electric cooperatives to deploy broadband services. 

If you have cell phone numbers, use those. If not, use the hotline number below to leave a message.


Legislative Message Line

1-800-372-7181


Definitions:

Underserved area - any project area where fixed, terrestrial broadband service with a minimum twenty-five (25) megabits per second downstream and three (3) megabits per second upstream is not available;

Unserved area - any project area where fixed, terrestrial broadband service with a minimum ten (10) megabits per second downstream and one (1) megabit per second upstream is not available.

Kentucky Association of Counties
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