COLUMBUS – State Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) joined her House colleagues in recently passing House Bill 13, legislation that helps expand broadband access in Ohio.
Nearly one million Ohioans lack a reliable internet connection, and about 300,000 households do not have any access to internet options. House Bill 13 creates Ohio’s first ever Residential Broadband Expansion Program, which will provide grants to offset construction cost hurdles and help facilitate the expansion of high-speed internet and all broadband services to unserved households across Ohio.
“No Ohioan should be left behind because of a lack of access to reliable high-speed internet,” said Manchester. “Broadband expansion is critical for economic development, educational resources, job opportunities, healthcare delivery, and more.”
The grant program will be funded with $20 million for the remainder of the state’s budget biennium. Other regulatory changes to assist in reducing barriers to broadband expansion are included in the legislation.
The program established under House Bill 13 fulfills a key goal under the Ohio Broadband Strategy, a report issued December 2019 by the Governor and Office of InnovateOhio, led by Lt. Governor Jon Husted, with the main goal to improve connectivity throughout Ohio.
“Ohioans should not be deprived of the internet’s opportunities and benefits simply because of where they live,” added Manchester.
The bill passed with a vote of 81-8 and awaits further action in the Ohio Senate.