THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE.
ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Hawaii was not prepared for the first round of stay-at-home, work-from-home orders triggered by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. The immediate halt in most personal interactions resulted in disruptions to business, education, healthcare, essential government services, and social events and activities. These disruptions highlighted the State's vulnerabilities, which were exacerbated by inadequate digital infrastructure and insufficient connectivity to the global broadband network. Therefore, the provision of equitable and robust access to broadband continues to be among the State's most pressing challenges.
Hawaii needs to invest in open access, carrier-neutral cable landing infrastructure to attract transpacific fiber optic cable companies and expand its fiber connectivity to the world and throughout the islands, particularly in rural, underserved, and unserved communities, to achieve the digital equity necessary to build a resilient digital economy. Attracting partners with the necessary technical expertise and resources can develop Hawaii into a strategic communications and knowledge hub in the Pacific. This hub would incorporate a robust global communications network and provide cloud platforms to establish the next generation applications, such as artificial intelligence and smart communities, in Hawaii.
The legislature further finds that to build a robust broadband infrastructure, the State must act quickly to take advantage of various federal and private funds available this year. For example, the 2021 federal Consolidated Appropriations Act earmarks:
(1) At least $30,000,000 for the department of Hawaiian home lands;
(2) $3,200,000,000 nationally in an emergency broadband benefit for low-income Americans to get connected or remain connected to broadband;
(3) $250,000,000 nationally for a new telehealth pilot program;
(4) $300,000,000 for a national grant program to fund broadband in rural areas; and
(5) $65,000,000 for the improvement of the nation's broadband maps.
The legislature notes that the first phase of deployment of these federal funds, in part, supports the South American Pacific Link, a transpacific fiber cable project that would connect Hawaii to South America, Central America, and the east coast of the continental United States. Additionally, over $100,000,000 is available from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration to address the broadband capacity to support telecommuting through pilot projects focused on building broadband infrastructure.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to ensure that the State takes full advantage of available funds to build the broadband infrastructure necessary to sustain interconnectivity throughout islands by:
(1) Establishing a three-year broadband infrastructure task force to develop and support projects and the partnerships to build and sustain the State's broadband infrastructure; and
(2) Appropriating funds for fiscal year 2021-2022 and fiscal year 2022-2023 for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 2. (a) There shall be established a broadband infrastructure task force to establish the partnerships and plans to build and sustain a statewide broadband infrastructure that provides all major islands with transpacific and rural connectivity that will advance and achieve digital inclusion and equity for all residents of Hawaii. Specifically, the broadband infrastructure task force shall:
(1) Obtain funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Highways Administration to build critical broadband infrastructure that meet the current and future needs of Hawaii, especially those in rural, unserved, underserved, and historically marginalized communities;
(2) Develop and implement pilot projects to build the broadband infrastructure across the islands; and
(3) Prepare a statewide broadband infrastructure plan, which includes program and budgetary requirements for building, managing, and maintaining key strategic broadband infrastructure, based on its experience with the pilot projects in paragraph (2).
(b) The comptroller of the department of accounting and general services and the highways division deputy director of transportation shall co-chair the broadband infrastructure task force. The department of business, economic development and tourism's chief broadband strategy officer shall serve as the assistant co-chair. Other members of the broadband infrastructure task force may include the following individuals or their designees:
(1) The chairperson of the department of Hawaiian home lands;
(2) The chief information officer of the office of enterprise technology services;
(3) The chief information officer of the University of Hawaii;
(4) The administrator of the cable television division of the department of commerce and consumer affairs;
(5) The director of the Hawaii public housing authority;
(6) One member appointed by the president of the senate; and
(7) One member appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.
The broadband infrastructure task force shall also consist of four additional representatives to be designated by the co-chairs; provided that each representative has knowledge and private sector expertise in Hawaii's technology, telecommunications, or investment industries, or any combination thereof.
(c) The members of the broadband infrastructure task force shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for expenses, including travel expenses, necessary for the performance of their duties.
(d) The broadband infrastructure task force shall be exempt from chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes, and shall act in an advisory capacity.
(e) The co-chairs of the broadband infrastructure task force shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2022. The report shall include:
(1) An accounting of all the funds that the broadband infrastructure task force has applied for and obtained from the federal government and other sources, including the project results in expanding broadband access in unserved and underserved areas;
(2) A plan, including program and budgetary requirements, for building the statewide broadband capacity, especially in rural, unserved, and underserved areas; and
(3) Recommendations, including any legislation, to build and sustain successful projects and partnerships that facilitate broadband infrastructure in the State.
(f) The broadband infrastructure task force shall cease to exist on June 30, 2024.
SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $200,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2021-2022 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2022-2023 for the purposes of this Act.
The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of accounting and general services for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2021.
Broadband Infrastructure Task Force; Department of Business, Economic Development, And Tourism; Comptroller; Appropriations
Establishes a three-year broadband infrastructure task force to develop and support projects and partnerships to build and sustain the State's broadband infrastructure. Appropriates funds.
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