Florida Senate - 2021              PROPOSED COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE
       Bill No. CS for SB 1560
       Proposed Committee Substitute by the Committee on Appropriations
       (Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and
       Economic Development)
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to broadband Internet service;
    3         amending s. 364.0135, F.S.; revising legislative
    4         findings; defining terms; revising the duties of the
    5         Florida Office of Broadband within the Department of
    6         Economic Opportunity; requiring local technology
    7         planning teams or partnerships to work with rural
    8         communities for specified purposes; requiring the
    9         office to develop geographic information system maps
   10         in collaboration with specified entities and
   11         consistent with certain federal reporting standards by
   12         a specified date; specifying required contents of the
   13         maps; requiring the department to annually update such
   14         maps and establish a mechanism to receive and verify
   15         governmental and public input related to broadband
   16         Internet service; authorizing the department to work
   17         collaboratively with specified entities in developing
   18         the mechanism; requiring the office to develop a
   19         broadband infrastructure asset map by a specified
   20         date; specifying required contents of the map;
   21         establishing the Broadband Deployment Task Force
   22         within the department for a specified purpose;
   23         requiring the department to provide administrative and
   24         technical assistance to the task force; providing for
   25         the membership and duties of the task force; requiring
   26         the task force to submit annual progress reports to
   27         the department by a specified date for inclusion in
   28         its annual report; providing for expiration of the
   29         task force; providing that certain information
   30         provided to the department from broadband service
   31         providers retains its exemption from public
   32         disclosure; creating s. 364.0136, F.S.; creating the
   33         Broadband Opportunity Program within the office;
   34         providing for administration of the program; providing
   35         requirements for grant awards; providing eligibility
   36         requirements; providing application requirements;
   37         requiring the office to publish certain information
   38         related to grant applications and grant awards on its
   39         website; authorizing grant applications to be
   40         challenged under certain circumstances; specifying
   41         contents of a challenge; providing procedures to be
   42         used by the office in evaluating challenges; providing
   43         direction for prioritizing grant funding; specifying
   44         conditions for the award of grants; requiring the
   45         office to enter into an agreement containing specified
   46         information with each grant recipient; requiring the
   47         office to publish specified information annually on
   48         its website and include the information in the
   49         department’s annual report; creating s. 364.0137,
   50         F.S.; defining terms; requiring the office to
   51         establish a process to identify eligible households to
   52         receive federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
   53         funds under certain circumstances; providing for
   54         direct subsidy payments; providing for household
   55         participation in the program; requiring the office to
   56         provide certain information to potentially eligible
   57         households; providing an effective date.
   59  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   61         Section 1. Section 364.0135, Florida Statutes, is amended
   62  to read:
   63         364.0135 Promotion of broadband adoption; Florida Office of
   64  Broadband.—
   65         (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that the
   66  sustainable adoption of broadband Internet service is critical
   67  to the economic and business development of this the state and
   68  is essential beneficial for all residents of this state,
   69  libraries, schools, colleges and universities, health care
   70  providers, and community organizations.
   71         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   72         (a) “Department” means the Department of Economic
   73  Opportunity.
   74         (b) “Office” means the Florida Office of Broadband.
   75         (c) “Sustainable adoption” means the ability for
   76  communications service providers to offer broadband services in
   77  all areas of this the state by encouraging adoption and use
   78  utilization levels that allow for these services to be offered
   79  in the free market absent the need for governmental subsidy.
   80         (d)“Task force” means the Broadband Deployment Task Force
   81  within the office.
   82         (e)(d) “Underserved” means a geographic area of this the
   83  state in which there is no provider of broadband Internet
   84  service that offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity
   85  for transmission at a consistent speed of at least 100 10
   86  megabits per second downstream and at least 10 megabits 1
   87  megabit per second upstream.
   88         (f) “Unserved” means a geographic area of this state in
   89  which there is no provider of broadband Internet service that
   90  offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for
   91  transmission at a consistent speed of at least 25 megabits per
   92  second downstream and at least 3 megabits per second upstream.
   93         (3) STATE AGENCY.—The department is designated as the lead
   94  state agency to facilitate the expansion of broadband Internet
   95  service in this the state. The department shall work
   96  collaboratively with private businesses and receive staffing
   97  support and other resources from Enterprise Florida, Inc., state
   98  agencies, local governments, and community organizations.
   99         (4) FLORIDA OFFICE OF BROADBAND.—The Florida Office of
  100  Broadband is created within the Division of Community
  101  Development in the department for the purpose of developing,
  102  marketing, and promoting broadband Internet services in this the
  103  state. The office, in the performance of its duties, shall do
  104  all of the following:
  105         (a) Create a strategic plan that has goals and strategies
  106  for increasing the use of broadband Internet service in this the
  107  state. The plan must include a process to review and verify
  108  public input regarding transmission speeds and availability of
  109  broadband Internet service throughout the state.
  110         (b) Build and facilitate local technology planning teams or
  111  partnerships with members representing cross-sections of the
  112  community, which may include, but are not limited to,
  113  representatives from the following organizations and industries:
  114  libraries, K-12 education, colleges and universities, local
  115  health care providers, private businesses, community
  116  organizations, economic development organizations, local
  117  governments, tourism, parks and recreation, and agriculture. The
  118  local technology planning teams or partnerships shall work with
  119  rural communities to help the communities understand their
  120  current broadband availability, locate unserved and underserved
  121  businesses and residents, identify assets relevant to broadband
  122  deployment, build partnerships with broadband service providers,
  123  and identify opportunities to leverage assets and reduce
  124  barriers to the deployment of broadband Internet services in the
  125  community. The teams or partnerships must be proactive in
  126  fiscally constrained counties in identifying and providing
  127  assistance with applying for federal grants for broadband
  128  Internet service.
  129         (c) Encourage the use of broadband Internet service,
  130  especially in the rural, unserved, or underserved communities of
  131  this the state through grant programs having effective
  132  strategies to facilitate the statewide deployment of broadband
  133  Internet service. For any grants to be awarded, priority must be
  134  given to projects that:
  135         1. Provide access to broadband education, awareness,
  136  training, access, equipment, and support to libraries, schools,
  137  colleges and universities, health care providers, and community
  138  support organizations.
  139         2. Encourage the sustainable adoption of broadband in
  140  primarily underserved areas by removing barriers to entry.
  141         3. Work toward encouraging investments in establishing
  142  affordable and sustainable broadband Internet service in
  143  underserved areas of this the state.
  144         4. Facilitate the development of applications, programs,
  145  and services, including, but not limited to, telework,
  146  telemedicine, and e-learning to increase the usage of, and
  147  demand for, broadband Internet service in this the state.
  148         (d) Monitor, participate in, and provide input in
  149  proceedings of the Federal Communications Commission and other
  150  federal agencies related to the geographic availability and
  151  deployment of broadband Internet service in this the state as
  152  necessary to ensure that this information is accurately
  153  presented and that rural, unserved, and underserved areas of
  154  this the state are best positioned to benefit from federal and
  155  state broadband deployment programs.
  156         (e)By June 30, 2022, develop geographic information system
  157  maps of broadband Internet service availability throughout this
  158  state. The office shall collaborate with broadband service
  159  providers, state agencies, local governmental entities, private
  160  businesses, educational institutions, and community
  161  organizations and leaders to develop such maps.
  162         1.The maps must do all of the following:
  163         a.Be consistent with the Digital Opportunity Data
  164  Collection program reporting standards established by the
  165  Federal Communications Commission.
  166         b.Identify where broadband-capable networks exist and
  167  broadband Internet service is available to end users.
  168         c.Identify download and upload transmission speeds made
  169  available to businesses and individuals in this state.
  170         d.Identify gaps in broadband Internet service coverage,
  171  specifying underserved and unserved areas within those areas of
  172  this state designated as a rural area of opportunity under s.
  173  288.0656(2).
  174         e.Include any other mapping information already compiled
  175  by other state agencies.
  176         f.Be updated annually.
  177         2.Any mapping data received from another governmental
  178  entity or a contractor must be verified. Such data must be
  179  verified against the source of the data and whether such entity
  180  is able to demonstrate that it has employed a sound and reliable
  181  methodology in the collection, organization, and verification of
  182  the data it has submitted to the office. If a governmental
  183  entity enters into a valid contract with a contractor to collect
  184  broadband availability data, the entity must describe the third
  185  party providing the data as well as the methodology used to
  186  collect, organize, and verify the availability data provided.
  187         3.The office must establish a mechanism to receive and
  188  verify public input which identifies locations in which
  189  broadband Internet service is not available, including locations
  190  in which broadband Internet service is provided at data
  191  transmission speeds below the standard established by the
  192  Federal Communications Commission for broadband Internet
  193  service. Upon verification, the office shall adjust its
  194  geographic information system maps to reflect information
  195  received from the public. In developing and implementing this
  196  mechanism, the office may work in collaboration with, and
  197  receive staffing support and other resources from, Enterprise
  198  Florida, Inc., state agencies, local governments, private
  199  businesses, and community organizations.
  200         (f)By June 30, 2022, develop a broadband infrastructure
  201  asset map that includes, but is not limited to:
  202         1.State and federal assets, including, but not limited to,
  203  municipally or city-owned towers that may be used by providers;
  204  rights-of-way that may be made available for easier and less
  205  expensive access to burying or stringing fiber optic cable;
  206  public transportation corridors; capital projects that may be
  207  used as an opportunity to lay new fiber optic conduit for future
  208  activation; and federal E-rate funding commitments; and
  209         2.Community-owned land and infrastructure, including, but
  210  not limited to, land that may be leased and utility poles that
  211  may be used to expand broadband networks.
  212         (g)Administer the Broadband Opportunity Program
  213  established in s. 364.0136.
  214         (5)BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT TASK FORCE.—The Broadband
  215  Deployment Task Force, a task force as defined in s. 20.03(8),
  216  is established within the department to support and provide
  217  recommendations to the office for the deployment of broadband
  218  Internet service throughout this state, including, but not
  219  limited to, rural buildout and urban adoption strategies. The
  220  department shall provide administrative and technical assistance
  221  to the task force in the performance of its duties. The task
  222  force shall operate in a manner consistent with s. 20.052.
  223         (a)The task force shall be composed of the following
  224  members, who must be appointed by September 1, 2021, and who
  225  must have an interest and significant expertise in broadband
  226  Internet services:
  227         1.One member from each of the following state agencies,
  228  who shall be appointed by his or her agency head: the Department
  229  of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of
  230  Management Services, the Department of Transportation, the
  231  Department of Education, the Department of Health, and the
  232  Office of Technology and Information Services within the
  233  Department of Environmental Protection.
  234         2.One member from the Florida Association of Counties as a
  235  representative of underserved or unserved rural communities, who
  236  is recommended by the association and appointed by the executive
  237  director.
  238         3.One member from the Florida League of Cities as a
  239  representative of underserved or unserved rural communities, who
  240  is recommended by the league and appointed by the executive
  241  director.
  242         4.Two members of the public who are appointed by the
  243  Governor, including one member who resides in an underserved
  244  area of this state and one member who resides in an unserved
  245  area of this state.
  246         5.One member from each of the following segments of the
  247  broadband industry, who shall be appointed by the Governor: a
  248  wireless provider, a wireline provider, a broadband satellite
  249  provider, a cable provider, a rural local exchange carrier, and
  250  a competitive local exchange carrier.
  251         (b)Any vacancy on the task force must be filled in the
  252  same manner as the original appointment.
  253         (c)The task force shall identify:
  254         1.Any available federal funding sources for the expansion
  255  or improvement of broadband Internet services in this state.
  256         2.Any gaps in broadband Internet service coverage for any
  257  area of this state.
  258         3.Specific projects that will accomplish the deployment of
  259  broadband Internet service throughout this state.
  260         (d) The task force shall develop strategies and make
  261  recommendations to the office for inclusion in its strategic
  262  plan to:
  263         1.Expand broadband Internet service to any area of this
  264  state designated as a rural area of opportunity, including, but
  265  not limited to, methods of building partnerships with local
  266  governments, other state and federal entities, electric
  267  utilities, the business community, and the public to support
  268  broadband Internet service in such areas.
  269         2.Address areas of this state which have broadband
  270  Internet service, but where such service is not affordable, as
  271  part of an urban strategy.
  272         3.Enable outreach and establish partnerships to facilitate
  273  maximum use of the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
  274  within the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. No.
  275  116-260 and regulations adopted thereunder.
  276         (e) The task force may coordinate with state agencies and
  277  other governmental entities with oversight in broadband Internet
  278  activities or potential funding opportunities.
  279         (f)The task force shall submit an annual report of its
  280  findings and recommendations by October 15 to the department for
  281  inclusion in its annual report required under s. 20.60. The
  282  office must also publish the report on its website.
  283         (g) This subsection expires on September 1, 2024.
  284         (6)CONFIDENTIALITY.—Any information that is confidential
  285  or exempt from public disclosure under chapter 119 when in the
  286  possession of the department retains its status as confidential
  287  or exempt from disclosure under chapter 119 when provided by a
  288  broadband service provider under this section.
  289         (7)(5) ADMINISTRATION.—The department may:
  290         (a) Apply for and accept federal funds for purposes of this
  291  section.
  292         (b) Enter into contracts necessary or useful to carry out
  293  the purposes of this section.
  294         (c) Establish any committee or workgroup to administer and
  295  carry out the purposes of this section.
  296         Section 2. Section 364.0136, Florida Statutes, is created
  297  to read:
  298         364.0136Broadband Opportunity Program.—
  299         (1)The Broadband Opportunity Program is established within
  300  the Florida Office of Broadband within the Department of
  301  Economic Opportunity to award grants to applicants who seek to
  302  expand broadband Internet service to unserved and underserved
  303  areas of this state. The office must administer and act as
  304  fiscal agent for the program and is responsible for receiving
  305  and reviewing applications and awarding grants. Funding for the
  306  program shall be subject to appropriation.
  307         (2)Grants awarded under this section shall fund the
  308  installation or deployment of infrastructure that supports the
  309  provision of broadband Internet service. State funds may not be
  310  used to install or deploy broadband Internet service to a
  311  geographic area in which broadband Internet service is already
  312  deployed by at least one provider.
  313         (3)Applicants eligible for grant awards include:
  314         (a)Corporations, limited liability companies, general
  315  partnerships, and limited partnerships that are organized under
  316  the laws of this state or otherwise authorized to transact
  317  business in this state.
  318         (b)Indian tribes.
  319         (4)The office may not award, directly or indirectly,
  320  grants under this section to a governmental entity, a rural
  321  electric cooperative or its broadband affiliate, or an
  322  educational institution or affiliate to provide broadband
  323  Internet service to any residential or commercial premises,
  324  unless other broadband Internet service providers have not
  325  deployed service to an unserved or underserved area.
  326         (5)An eligible applicant shall submit a grant application
  327  to the office on a form prescribed by the office. A grant
  328  application must include all of the following information:
  329         (a)A description of the project area.
  330         (b)A description of the kind and amount of broadband
  331  Internet service infrastructure which is proposed.
  332         (c)Evidence demonstrating the unserved or underserved
  333  nature of the project area.
  334         (d)The number of households and businesses which would
  335  have access to broadband Internet service as a result of the
  336  grant.
  337         (e)A list of significant community institutions that would
  338  benefit from the grant.
  339         (f)The total cost of the project and the timeframe in
  340  which it would be completed.
  341         (g)A list identifying sources of funding or in-kind
  342  contributions that would supplement any awarded grant.
  343         (h)Any other information required by the office.
  344         (6)(a)At least 30 days before the first day grant
  345  applications may be submitted each fiscal year, the office shall
  346  publish on its website the specific criteria and quantitative
  347  scoring system it will use to evaluate or rank grant
  348  applications. Such criteria and quantitative scoring system must
  349  include the criteria set forth in subsection (7).
  350         (b)Within 3 business days after the close of the grant
  351  application process, the office shall publish on its website,
  352  from each grant application submitted, the proposed unserved or
  353  underserved areas to be served and the proposed broadband
  354  Internet speeds of the areas to be served.
  355         (c)A broadband Internet service provider that provides
  356  existing service in or adjacent to a proposed project area may
  357  submit to the office, within 45 days after publication of the
  358  information under paragraph (b), a written challenge to an
  359  application. The challenge must contain information
  360  demonstrating that:
  361         1.The provider currently has deployed broadband Internet
  362  service to retail customers within the project area;
  363         2.The provider has begun construction to provide broadband
  364  Internet service to retail customers within the proposed project
  365  area within the timeframe proposed by the applicant; or
  366         3.The provider commits to providing broadband Internet
  367  service to retail customers within the proposed project area
  368  within the timeframe proposed by the applicant.
  369         (d)Within 3 business days after the submission of a
  370  written challenge, the office shall notify the applicant, in
  371  writing, of the challenge.
  372         (e)The office shall evaluate each challenge submitted
  373  under this subsection. If the office determines that the
  374  provider currently has deployed, has begun construction to
  375  provide, or commits to provide broadband Internet service in the
  376  proposed project area, the office may not fund the challenged
  377  project.
  378         (f)If the office denies funding to an applicant as a
  379  result of a broadband Internet service provider’s challenge, and
  380  the provider does not fulfill its commitment to provide
  381  broadband Internet service in the unserved or underserved area,
  382  the office may not consider another challenge from the provider
  383  for the next two grant application cycles, unless the office
  384  determines that the failure to fulfill the commitment was due to
  385  circumstances beyond the provider’s control.
  386         (7)(a)Notwithstanding s. 364.0135(4)(c), in evaluating
  387  grant applications and awarding grants, the office must give
  388  priority to applications that:
  389         1.Offer broadband Internet service to important community
  390  institutions, including, but not limited to, libraries,
  391  educational institutions, public safety facilities, and health
  392  care facilities;
  393         2.Facilitate the use of telemedicine and electronic health
  394  records;
  395         3.Serve economically distressed areas of this state, as
  396  measured by indices of unemployment, poverty, or population loss
  397  which are significantly greater than the statewide average;
  398         4.Provide for scalability to transmission speeds of at
  399  least 100 megabits per second download and 10 megabits per
  400  second upload;
  401         5.Include a component to actively promote the adoption of
  402  the newly available broadband Internet service in the community;
  403         6.Provide evidence of strong support for the project from
  404  residents, government, businesses, and institutions in the
  405  community;
  406         7.Provide access to broadband Internet service to the
  407  greatest number of unserved and underserved households and
  408  businesses;
  409         8.Leverage greater amounts of funding for a project from
  410  private or federal sources; or
  411         9.Demonstrate consistency with the strategic plan adopted
  412  under s. 364.0135.
  413         (b)The office must endeavor to award grants to qualified
  414  applications serving all regions of this state.
  415         (8)(a)A grant awarded under this section may not be used
  416  to serve any retail end user that already has access to
  417  broadband Internet service.
  418         (b)A grant awarded under this section, when combined with
  419  any state, local, or federal funds, may not fund more than 50
  420  percent of the total cost of a project.
  421         (c)A single project may not be awarded a grant in excess
  422  of $5 million.
  423         (9)For each grant awarded, the office shall enter into an
  424  agreement with the applicant. The agreement must specify the
  425  total amount of the grant, performance conditions that must be
  426  met to obtain the grant, the schedule of payment, and sanctions
  427  that would apply for failure to meet performance conditions,
  428  including, but not limited to, requiring the return of grant
  429  funds.
  430         (10)By October 15, 2022, and each year thereafter, the
  431  office shall publish on its website and include in the
  432  department’s annual report required under s. 20.60 all of the
  433  following information:
  434         (a)A list of all grant applications received during the
  435  previous fiscal year and for each application:
  436         1.The results of any quantitative weighting or scoring
  437  system the office used to award grants or rank the applications.
  438         2.The grant amounts requested.
  439         3.The grant amounts awarded, if any.
  440         4.A report on the progress of each grant recipient in
  441  acquiring and installing infrastructure that supports the
  442  provision of broadband Internet service in the project areas for
  443  which that grant was awarded and in securing adoption of such
  444  service in each project area.
  445         (b)All written challenges filed during the previous fiscal
  446  year and the results of those challenges.
  447         Section 3. Section 364.0137, Florida Statutes, is created
  448  to read:
  449         364.0137Broadband assistance funds.—
  450         (1)For purposes of this section, the term:
  451         (a)“Broadband service provider” means a provider of
  452  broadband Internet access service in this state.
  453         (b)“Federal broadband program” means the Emergency
  454  Broadband Benefit Program within the Consolidated Appropriations
  455  Act, 2021, Pub. L. No. 116-260 and regulations adopted
  456  thereunder.
  457         (2)In order to assist participating broadband service
  458  providers in identifying potential recipients for broadband
  459  assistance funds under the federal broadband program, the
  460  Florida Office of Broadband, as created in s. 364.0135, must
  461  establish a process to quickly identify potential eligible
  462  households to receive such funds.
  463         (3)An eligible broadband service provider that
  464  participates in and receives funds under the federal broadband
  465  program must provide direct subsidy payments by providing
  466  monthly discounts for eligible households as set forth in the
  467  federal broadband program. A provider may not disqualify a
  468  household because a member of the household has any past or
  469  present arrearages with a broadband provider. Such discounts may
  470  be no more than the standard rate for an Internet service
  471  offering and associated equipment, in an amount equal to that
  472  set forth in the federal broadband program.
  473         (4)To be eligible for direct subsidy payments, an eligible
  474  household must demonstrate low income. Such eligible households
  475  include those in which at least one member of the household is
  476  eligible for the National School Lunch Program or the School
  477  Breakfast Program, as provided in s. 595.402, has experienced a
  478  substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, has received
  479  a federal Pell Grant, is eligible for the federal Lifeline
  480  program, or meets participation requirements for a service
  481  provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program, subject to
  482  any other eligibility requirements required by the Federal
  483  Communications Commission.
  484         (5)Where possible, the office shall provide potentially
  485  eligible households with notice of their potential eligibility
  486  to receive financial assistance under the federal broadband
  487  program and shall also direct the members of those households to
  488  other state or federal resources that may provide assistance
  489  with debt relief.
  490         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.