Because sunshine is currently more plentiful than internet connections in some parts of Florida, lawmakers in the state have voted in favor of HB 969. The terms of the House bill create the Florida Office of Broadband within the Department of Economic Opportunity. FloridaPolitics.com reports the new department would be the lead agency on high-speed internet development (DEO).
The bill was passed with unanimous approval. One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Representative Lusanne Ausley (D), stated, “It allows stay-at-home moms to stay current in their profession or to have a stay-at-home business. It allows adults in the workforce to up-skill or seek new opportunities.” She added that while metropolitan communities may take the internet for granted, rural Floridians do not.
Passing the broadband reins to the DEO would give it the authority to determine which areas of the state are the most chronically underserved. The shift in responsibilities would also allow the DEO to campaign for federal funding for broadband expansion, a task formerly handled by the Department of Management Services.
Legislators like Ausley and Representative Brad Drake (R) have expressed a belief that an agency whose sole focus is broadband outreach is the best way to bring connectivity to residents across the state.