On January 24, HB 249 (Davis) was heard in the House Communications, Technology, and Innovation Committee. As previously reported, this bill expands the eligibility criteria for counties applying for Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grant (VATI) funds. Specifically, the bill directs the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to align the eligibility criteria with the same found in the U.S. Treasury’s Final Rule regarding the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
VACo spoke strongly in support of the bill as it will significantly increase the availability of state funds, that can be matched with federal and local dollars, to build broadband infrastructure at bandwidths and speeds capable of supporting reliable use. Following some vigorous debate, the committee voted 19-2 to refer the bill to the House Appropriations Committee. The bill has since been assigned to the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
VACo will continue to provide updates on the progress of the bill, including opportunities to express support once it has been assigned to a committee and scheduled for a vote.