2014 -- H 8136 SUBSTITUTE A

Enacted 07/08/14







                   Introduced By: Representatives Finn, Kazarian, Blazejewski, Keable, and Hearn

                   Date Introduced: May 01, 2014


                   WHEREAS, Within the State of Rhode Island, effective economic development today


              requires collaboration and communication among business, local and state government,

              education, healthcare, tourism, and community leaders in order to grow jobs, maintain existing

              employment, and provide for the common good; and

                    WHEREAS, High-speed internet access, also known as broadband, has become an

              essential element of economic vitality, enhancing economic development and public safety for

              the state's communities, improving healthcare and educational opportunities, and providing a

              better quality of life for our state's residents; and

                   WHEREAS, Continued progress in the deployment, adoption, and utilization rate of

              broadband is vital to ensuring that Rhode Island remains competitive in the global economy; and

                   WHEREAS, Rhode Island is ranked number one among the United States in broadband

              speed and has the technical infrastructure in place to connect every Rhode Islander to high-speed

              internet; and

                   WHEREAS, A digital divide exists in pockets of Rhode Island that do not enjoy the

              benefits of high-speed broadband; and for Rhode Island to compete in the digital age,

              collaborative action is needed to improve Rhode Islanders' internet access to increase the

              integration of online learning, increased job searching, and attainment and accessibility of

              government resources; and

                   WHEREAS, According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, 75 percent of Rhode


              Islanders accessed the internet which exceeded the national average of 74 percent, nevertheless,

              the state lags behind the five regional states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,

              Vermont, and Maine; and

                   WHEREAS, Rhode Island must encourage, support, and further facilitate public/private

              partnerships that continue the growth, adoption, and access to broadband for all of Rhode Island's

              citizens and businesses, most particularly in underserved rural and urban areas; now, therefore be


                   RESOLVED, That a special legislative commission on broadband services and

              accessibility be and the same is hereby created consisting of fourteen (14) members: four (4) of

              whom shall be members of the Senate, not more than three (3) from the same political party, to be

              appointed by the President of the Senate; four (4) of whom shall be members of the House, not

              more than three (3) from the same political party, to be appointed by the Speaker; one of whom

              shall be the Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, or designee;

              one of whom shall be the of the Chairperson of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission or

              designee; one of whom shall be the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Commerce

              Corporation, or designee; one of whom shall be the Director of the Rhode Island Emergency

              Management Agency or designee; one of whom shall be the Director of the Rhode Island

              Department of Health or designee; and one of whom shall be the Chief Information Officer of the

              Rhode Island Division of Information Technology, or designee.

                    In lieu of any appointment of a member of the legislature to a permanent advisory

              commission, a legislative study commission, or any commission created by a General Assembly

              resolution, the appointing authority may appoint a member of the general public to serve in lieu

              of a legislator, provided that the majority leader or the minority leader of the political party which

              is entitled to the appointment consents to the appointment of the member of the general public.

                   The purpose of said commission shall be to:

                    Identify the current level of broadband service state-wide, including connection

              speeds for sending and receiving data that will be reasonably needed by all citizens by 2015;

                    Analyze the policies and actions necessary to eliminate obstacles to the

              investment in and the identification of areas in the state that currently lack the infrastructure

              necessary to support broadband service;

                    Identify and address the digital gap in both the minority and rural communities;

                    Explore opportunities for potential public/private sector partnerships;

                    Evaluate the various strategies, financing methods, and financial incentives used

              in other states and countries to support the deployment of high-speed broadband;


                    Review the security, vulnerability, and redundancy actions necessary to ensure

              the reliability of high-speed broadband;

                    Explore the economic development opportunities made possible by the wide

              dissemination of high-speed broadband;

                    Examine how access to high-speed broadband can benefit educational

              institutions, healthcare institutions, community-based organizations, and government institutions;


                    Assess the current public centers for broadband access as well as potential future

              plans to enhance access to underserved communities throughout the state.

                   Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at

              the call of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House and organize. The President

              of the Senate and the Speaker of the House shall each select one member to serve as co-

              chairpersons of the commission.

                   Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in like manner as the original appointment.

                   The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.

                   All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and information,

              documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or

              desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.

                   The Joint Committee on Legislative Services is hereby authorized and directed to provide

              suitable quarters for said commission; and be it further

                   RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and results to the General

              Assembly on or before March 31, 2015, and said commission shall expire on April 30, 2015.


              LC005514/SUB A