Election 2023: Gubernatorial Campaigns, State Legislatures & Ballot Measure Initiatives

Three states are holding gubernatorial elections this fall, with voters in one of those states (Louisiana) having already chosen a new governor to replace a term-limited incumbent. In the remaining states, Kentucky and Mississippi, elections will be held next week (Nov. 7), with the incumbents facing tough opponents in their reelection bids. Six states (Colorado, Maine, New York, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas) will vote on 36 statewide ballot measures this fall. Of those measures, 30 of the 36 measures are legislatively referred constitutional amendments or statutes, while the other six are citizen initiatives. Many of this year’s measures are focused on taxes and state funds. At the same time, state legislative elections will be held in Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Gen Z workforce inspires shift in broadband

As more households rely on faster forms of internet, broadband internet service has begun to be treated as a necessity in the home and workplace. But its use has varied by generation; according to Pew Research Center, 99% of US adults ages 18-29 report using the internet, while only 75% of senior citizens (65+) can say the same.

White House announces $42.5B in broadband allocations

On June 26, 2023, the U.S. government announced allocations from the $42.45 Billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. These funds, allocated to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories, are intended to close the digital divide in the U.S., as funding will be used to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone in the U.S. has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.

Changes to national broadband map means more money to some states, less to others

On May 30, 2023, FCC released a broadband map that had been updated to reflect states' challenges to the availability data for more than 4 million locations throughout the U.S. Seventy-five percent of those challenges had been resolved in the new map. The new map reflected a net increase of more than one million new serviceable locations that had not appeared on the previous map.

State & local policymakers: Concerned about how much federal broadband funding your area will receive? What’s your strategy in reviewing the FCC broadband map?

Since the widespread usage of the internet in the 1990s, the question of who has access to broadband and the definition of high-speed internet has bedeviled federal, state and local officials.  Attempts to map which addresses have access to high-speed service date back at least 20 years. The latest iteration, a new national broadband map released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be used to ensure that the $42.45 billion federal investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program makes its way to the areas most in need of broadband service when it is allocated to states on June 30. With challenges to the map due by Jan. 13, SSTI urges state and local policymakers to take a close look at the map and encourage your residents to provide feedback on the map.

FCC releases new broadband map, will determine funding allocation across the nation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released the first draft of a new national broadband map providing a more granular look at broadband service throughout the country. The new broadband map was created to ensure that the $42.45 billion federal investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program makes its way to the areas most in need of broadband service when it is allocated to states on June 30. This program provides each state with at least $100 million and additional funds according to the number of unserved or underserved areas.

Bipartisan infrastructure act includes billions for regional innovation

Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure framework, formally, the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act, and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it the week of Nov. 15. While small as a percentage of the trillion-dollar total, there are a number of proposed items that can support regional innovation economies, with broadband being the highest funded. Other proposals of interest include funding that will stimulate demand for clean energy innovations, further cybersecurity development and reauthorizing the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).

New broadband mapping tool announced in Illinois

Gov. J.B Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have announced a new project for interactive broadband mapping and speed test tools that is intended to help expand access to high-speed internet in communities across Illinois. The project entails the creation of the interactive Connect Illinois Broadband Map and the Illinois Broadband Lab. DCEO has partnered with stakeholders including the University of Illinois System, Illinois Innovation Network, and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society for this project.

FCC commits additional $421 million in off-campus learning support to bridge the pandemic “homework gap”

A $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) was established by the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act to help ease the educational impact on students of school closures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While much instruction transitioned to an online environment, many students were inadequately equipped to properly participate. To address issues with access to technology, the program provides funding to schools and libraries across the nation to purchase connected devices and equipment needed for students to use off-campus. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) latest commitment of $421 million brings the program’s total funding to more than $3 billion.

FCC announces second round of RDOF broadband funding; pulls back other offers

The Federal Communications Commission announced its second round of funding for new broadband investments through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). It also revealed that it is “continuing its work to refocus the program to ensure that funding goes to unserved areas that need broadband,” and as a result dozens of winning bidders from the previous round have “chosen not to pursue buildout … .”


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