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Commonwealth's Counties

Bill to Curb Local Authority for the Provision of Broadband Services to be Heard on February 2

Legislation to impose significant hurdles and costly limitations for a locality to bring broadband to unserved areas was put off for a week at the request of the patron.

HB 2108 (Byron) was rescheduled for a vote in House Commerce and Labor Committee on Thursday afternoon, February 2, in House Room D in the General Assembly building.

VACo Members – please contact Delegates on the House Commerce and Labor Committee today to oppose HB 2108.

Delegate Kathy Byron also introduced a substitute version for the committee and other interested parties to consider in the intervening period. She said she was working on an amendment with the City of Virginia Beach to remove their opposition to the bill. VACo is not aware of any other locality working directly with the patron on amendments and is opposed to both the original and revised bill.

The redraft contains many elements from the introduced version that will halt many of our members’ efforts to deploy broadband to serve schools, businesses and residential areas. The most problematic of these is the removal of FOIA exemptions that is in direct conflict with existing law for establishing private-public partnerships. Such exemptions were adopted by the legislature to give localities the ability to partner with private sector providers in service provisioning. Without them trade secrets and intellectual property will be open to the public and competitors. This will effectively limit the willingness of private internet service providers to explore and potentially partner successfully with localities to provide broadband.

Following up on our recent Capitol Contact ALERT, VACo asks that you continue to contact your legislators in opposition and provide us copies of emails, letters and resolutions. We also note that the bill’s hearing coincides with VACo County Government Day. Please be prepared to attend the House Commerce and Labor Committee Meeting in House Room D to show opposition to the problematic bill after VACo County Government Day.

VACo Members – Share your thoughts on FlagPoll.

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

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