STAND. COM. REP. NO. 1131

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

RE: H.B. No. 1191

H.D. 2

S.D. 1

 

 

 

Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirty-First State Legislature

Regular Session of 2021

State of Hawaii

 

Sir:

 

Your Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism, to which was referred H.B. No. 1191, H.D. 2, entitled:

 

"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO BROADBAND SERVICE INFRASTRUCTURE,"

 

begs leave to report as follows:

 

The purpose and intent of this measure is to:

 

(1) Establish the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program to award grants to extend the deployment of facilities used to provide broadband service to unserved areas of the State;

 

(2) Rename the Hawaii technology loan revolving fund to the Hawaii broadband infrastructure fund and changing the types of funds to be deposited into the fund; and

 

(3) Authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds for the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program.

 

Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; Department of Transportation; Department of Health; Maui Chamber of Commerce; Hawaii Primary Care Association; AlohaCare; Charter Communications; Office of Information Practices; AARP Hawaii; and one individual. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Department of Budget and Finance and Hawaiian Telcom.

 

Your Committee finds that it is critical to improve access to broadband services for residents, consumers, and businesses across the State. Although broadband coverage in the State is widespread, additional investment can be made to keep up with needs in rural communities to bridge the digital divide. Your Committee further finds that the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program facilitates deployment of infrastructure necessary to bring broadband service to unserved and underserved areas of the State. Project eligibility under the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program is currently limited to unserved areas and excludes areas partially served by an existing provider. However, your Committee also finds that inclusion of partially served areas in the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program eligibility requirements will foster full development of the broadband infrastructure throughout the State.

 

Your Committee also notes that while the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program is intended to be complementary to the Federal Communications Commission's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, it is important to ensure that the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program does not duplicate funding in those areas where the federal government has specifically directed funding for broadband expansion.

 

Accordingly, your Committee has amended this measure by:

 

(1) Clarifying the meaning of "unserved area" to specify that it does not include locations where federal funding has been awarded pursuant to the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund for the deployment or expansion of broadband networks;

 

(2) Expanding project eligibility requirements under the Hawaii Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program to include those areas that are partially-served by an existing provider;

 

(3) Allowing applicants to designate material as confidential or a challenger to request confidential treatment, but only require the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to treat the information as confidential to the extent it is in fact protected under the Uniform Information Practices Act;

 

(4) Increasing the minimum amount an applicant is required to commit to paying for project costs from forty percent to fifty percent; and

 

(5) Making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.

 

As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of H.B. No. 1191, H.D. 2, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as H.B. No. 1191, H.D. 2, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism,

 

 

 

________________________________

GLENN WAKAI, Chair