Florida Senate - 2021                                    SB 1560
       By Senator Ausley
       3-01819B-21                                           20211560__
    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 office for a specified purpose; requiring
   23         the department to provide administrative and technical
   24         assistance to the task force; providing for the
   25         membership and duties of the task force; requiring the
   26         task force to submit annual progress reports to the
   27         Governor and the Legislature by a specified date;
   28         providing that certain information provided to the
   29         department from broadband service providers retains
   30         its exemption from public disclosure; creating s.
   31         364.0136, F.S.; defining terms; requiring the office
   32         to establish a process to identify eligible households
   33         to receive federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
   34         funds under certain circumstances; providing for
   35         direct subsidy payments; providing for household
   36         participation in the program; requiring the office to
   37         provide certain information to potentially eligible
   38         households; providing an effective date.
   40  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   42         Section 1. Section 364.0135, Florida Statutes, is amended
   43  to read:
   44         364.0135 Promotion of broadband adoption; Florida Office of
   45  Broadband.—
   46         (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that the
   47  sustainable adoption of broadband Internet service is critical
   48  to the economic and business development of this the state and
   49  is essential beneficial for all residents of this state,
   50  libraries, schools, colleges and universities, health care
   51  providers, and community organizations.
   52         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   53         (a) “Department” means the Department of Economic
   54  Opportunity.
   55         (b) “Office” means the Florida Office of Broadband.
   56         (c) “Sustainable adoption” means the ability for
   57  communications service providers to offer broadband services in
   58  all areas of this the state by encouraging adoption and use
   59  utilization levels that allow for these services to be offered
   60  in the free market absent the need for governmental subsidy.
   61         (d)“Task force” means the Broadband Deployment Task Force
   62  within the office.
   63         (e)(d) “Underserved” means a geographic area of this the
   64  state in which there is no provider of broadband Internet
   65  service that offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity
   66  for transmission at a consistent speed of at least 100 10
   67  megabits per second downstream and at least 10 megabits 1
   68  megabit per second upstream.
   69         (f) “Unserved” means a geographic area of this state in
   70  which there is no provider of broadband Internet service that
   71  offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for
   72  transmission at a consistent speed of at least 25 megabits per
   73  second downstream and at least 3 megabits per second upstream.
   74         (3) STATE AGENCY.—The department is designated as the lead
   75  state agency to facilitate the expansion of broadband Internet
   76  service in this the state. The department shall work
   77  collaboratively with private businesses and receive staffing
   78  support and other resources from Enterprise Florida, Inc., state
   79  agencies, local governments, and community organizations.
   80         (4) FLORIDA OFFICE OF BROADBAND.—The Florida Office of
   81  Broadband is created within the Division of Community
   82  Development in the department for the purpose of developing,
   83  marketing, and promoting broadband Internet services in this the
   84  state. The office, in the performance of its duties, shall do
   85  all of the following:
   86         (a) Create a strategic plan that has goals and strategies
   87  for increasing the use of broadband Internet service in this the
   88  state. The plan must include a process to review and verify
   89  public input regarding transmission speeds and availability of
   90  broadband Internet service throughout this the state.
   91         (b) Build and facilitate local technology planning teams or
   92  partnerships with members representing cross-sections of the
   93  community, which may include, but are not limited to,
   94  representatives from the following organizations and industries:
   95  libraries, K-12 education, colleges and universities, local
   96  health care providers, private businesses, community
   97  organizations, economic development organizations, local
   98  governments, tourism, parks and recreation, and agriculture. The
   99  local technology planning teams or partnerships shall work with
  100  rural communities to help the communities understand their
  101  current broadband availability, locate unserved and underserved
  102  businesses and residents, identify assets relevant to broadband
  103  deployment, build partnerships with broadband service providers,
  104  and identify opportunities to leverage assets and reduce
  105  barriers to the deployment of broadband Internet services in the
  106  community. The teams or partnerships must be proactive in
  107  fiscally constrained counties in identifying and providing
  108  assistance with applying for federal grants for broadband
  109  Internet service.
  110         (c) Encourage the use of broadband Internet service,
  111  especially in the rural, unserved, or underserved communities of
  112  this the state through grant programs having effective
  113  strategies to facilitate the statewide deployment of broadband
  114  Internet service. For any grants to be awarded, priority must be
  115  given to projects that:
  116         1. Provide access to broadband education, awareness,
  117  training, access, equipment, and support to libraries, schools,
  118  colleges and universities, health care providers, and community
  119  support organizations.
  120         2. Encourage the sustainable adoption of broadband in
  121  primarily underserved areas by removing barriers to entry.
  122         3. Work toward encouraging investments in establishing
  123  affordable and sustainable broadband Internet service in
  124  underserved areas of this the state.
  125         4. Facilitate the development of applications, programs,
  126  and services, including, but not limited to, telework,
  127  telemedicine, and e-learning to increase the usage of, and
  128  demand for, broadband Internet service in this the state.
  129         (d) Monitor, participate in, and provide input in
  130  proceedings of the Federal Communications Commission and other
  131  federal agencies related to the geographic availability and
  132  deployment of broadband Internet service in this the state as
  133  necessary to ensure that this information is accurately
  134  presented and that rural, unserved, and underserved areas of
  135  this the state are best positioned to benefit from federal and
  136  state broadband deployment programs.
  137         (e)By June 30, 2022, develop geographic information system
  138  maps of broadband Internet service availability throughout this
  139  state. The office shall collaborate with broadband service
  140  providers, state agencies, local governmental entities, private
  141  businesses, educational institutions, and community
  142  organizations and leaders to develop such maps.
  143         1.The maps must do all of the following:
  144         a.Be consistent with the Digital Opportunity Data
  145  Collection program reporting standards established by the
  146  Federal Communications Commission.
  147         b.Identify where broadband-capable networks exist and
  148  broadband Internet service is available to end users.
  149         c.Identify download and upload transmission speeds made
  150  available to businesses and individuals in this state.
  151         d.Identify gaps in broadband Internet service coverage,
  152  specifying underserved and unserved areas within those areas of
  153  this state designated as a rural area of opportunity under s.
  154  288.0656(2).
  155         e.Include any other mapping information already compiled
  156  by other state agencies.
  157         f.Be updated annually.
  158         2.Any mapping data received from another governmental
  159  entity or a contractor must be verified. Such data must be
  160  verified against the source of the data and whether such entity
  161  is able to demonstrate that it has employed a sound and reliable
  162  methodology in the collection, organization, and verification of
  163  the data it has submitted to the office. If a governmental
  164  entity enters into a valid contract with a contractor to collect
  165  broadband availability data, the entity must describe the third
  166  party providing the data as well as the methodology used to
  167  collect, organize, and verify the availability data provided.
  168         3.The office must establish a mechanism to receive and
  169  verify public input which identifies locations in which
  170  broadband Internet service is not available, including locations
  171  in which broadband Internet service is provided at data
  172  transmission speeds below the standard established by the
  173  Federal Communications Commission for broadband Internet
  174  service. Upon verification, the board shall adjust its
  175  geographic information system maps to reflect information
  176  received from the public. In developing and implementing this
  177  mechanism, the office may work in collaboration with, and
  178  receive staffing support and other resources from, Enterprise
  179  Florida, Inc., state agencies, local governments, private
  180  businesses, and community organizations.
  181         (f)By June 30, 2022, develop a broadband infrastructure
  182  asset map that includes, but is not limited to:
  183         1.State and federal assets, including, but not limited to,
  184  municipally or city-owned towers that may be used by providers;
  185  rights-of-way that may be made available for easier and less
  186  expensive access to burying or stringing fiber optic cable;
  187  public transportation corridors; capital projects that may be
  188  used as an opportunity to lay new fiber optic conduit for future
  189  activation; and federal E-rate funding commitments; and
  190         2.Community-owned land and infrastructure, including, but
  191  not limited to, land that may be leased and utility poles that
  192  may be used to expand broadband networks.
  193         (5)BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT TASK FORCE.—The Broadband
  194  Deployment Task Force, a task force as defined in s. 20.03(8),
  195  is established within the department to support and provide
  196  recommendations to the office for the deployment of broadband
  197  Internet service throughout this state, including, but not
  198  limited to, rural buildout and urban adoption strategies. The
  199  department shall provide administrative and technical assistance
  200  to the task force in the performance of its duties. The task
  201  force shall operate in a manner consistent with s. 20.052.
  202         (a)The task force shall be composed of the following
  203  members, who must be appointed by September 1, 2021, and who
  204  must have an interest and significant expertise in broadband
  205  Internet services:
  206         1.One member from each of the following state agencies,
  207  who shall be appointed by his or her agency head: the Department
  208  of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of
  209  Management Services, the Department of Transportation, the
  210  Department of Education, the Department of Health, and the
  211  Office of Technology and Information Services.
  212         2.One member from the Florida Association of Counties as a
  213  representative of underserved or unserved rural communities, who
  214  is recommended by the association and appointed by the executive
  215  director.
  216         3.One member from the Florida League of Cities as a
  217  representative of underserved or unserved rural communities, who
  218  is recommended by the league and appointed by the executive
  219  director.
  220         4.Two members of the public who are appointed by the
  221  Governor, including one member who resides in an underserved
  222  area of this state and one member who resides in an unserved
  223  area of this state.
  224         5.One member from each of the following segments of the
  225  broadband industry, who shall be appointed by the Governor: a
  226  wireless provider, a wireline provider, a broadband satellite
  227  provider, a cable provider, a rural local exchange carrier, and
  228  a competitive local exchange carrier.
  229         (b)Any vacancy on the task force must be filled in the
  230  same manner as the original appointment.
  231         (c)The task force shall:
  232         1.Identify any available federal funding sources for the
  233  expansion or improvement of broadband Internet services in this
  234  state.
  235         2.Identify any gaps in broadband Internet service coverage
  236  for any area of this state.
  237         3.Develop strategies to expand broadband Internet service
  238  to any area of this state designated as a rural area of
  239  opportunity, including, but not limited to, methods of building
  240  partnerships with local governments, other state and federal
  241  entities, electric utilities, the business community, and the
  242  public to support broadband Internet service in such areas.
  243         4.Develop an urban adoption strategy to address areas of
  244  this state which have broadband Internet service, but where such
  245  service is not affordable.
  246         5.Identify specific projects that will accomplish the
  247  deployment of broadband Internet service throughout this state,
  248  including grants provided through the rural infrastructure fund
  249  pursuant to s. 288.0655(2)(b).
  250         6.Coordinate with the Cabinet, state agencies, and other
  251  governmental entities with oversight in broadband Internet
  252  activities or potential funding opportunities.
  253         7.Recommend outreach strategies and partnerships for
  254  maximum use of the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
  255  within the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. No.
  256  116-260 and regulations adopted thereunder.
  257         (d)The task force shall submit a report of its findings
  258  and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the
  259  Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by
  260  December 30, 2022, and each year thereafter.
  261         (6)CONFIDENTIALITY.—Any information that is confidential
  262  or exempt from public disclosure under chapter 119 when in the
  263  possession of the department retains its status as confidential
  264  or exempt from disclosure under chapter 119 when provided by a
  265  broadband service provider under this section.
  266         (7)(5) ADMINISTRATION.—The department may:
  267         (a) Apply for and accept federal funds for purposes of this
  268  section.
  269         (b) Enter into contracts necessary or useful to carry out
  270  the purposes of this section.
  271         (c) Establish any committee or workgroup to administer and
  272  carry out the purposes of this section.
  273         Section 2. Section 364.0136, Florida Statutes, is created
  274  to read:
  275         364.0136Broadband assistance funds.—
  276         (1)For purposes of this section, the term:
  277         (a)“Broadband service provider” means a provider of
  278  broadband Internet access service in this state.
  279         (b)“Federal broadband program” means the Emergency
  280  Broadband Benefit Program within the Consolidated Appropriations
  281  Act, 2021, Pub. L. No. 116-260 and regulations adopted
  282  thereunder.
  283         (2)In order to assist participating broadband service
  284  providers in identifying potential recipients for broadband
  285  assistance funds under the federal broadband program, the
  286  Florida Office of Broadband, as created in s. 364.0135, must
  287  establish a process to quickly identify potential eligible
  288  households to receive such funds.
  289         (3)An eligible broadband service provider that
  290  participates in and receives funds under the federal broadband
  291  program must provide direct subsidy payments by providing
  292  monthly discounts for eligible households as set forth in the
  293  federal broadband program. A provider may not disqualify a
  294  household because a member of the household has any past or
  295  present arrearages with a broadband provider. Such discounts may
  296  be no more than the standard rate for an Internet service
  297  offering and associated equipment, in an amount equal to that
  298  set forth in the federal broadband program.
  299         (4)To be eligible for direct subsidy payments, an eligible
  300  household must demonstrate low income. Such eligible households
  301  include those in which at least one member of the household is
  302  eligible for the National School Lunch Program or the School
  303  Breakfast Program, as provided in s. 595.402, has experienced a
  304  substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, has received
  305  a federal Pell Grant, is eligible for the federal Lifeline
  306  program, or meets participation requirements for a service
  307  provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program, subject to
  308  any other eligibility requirements required by the Federal
  309  Communications Commission.
  310         (5)Where possible, the office shall provide potentially
  311  eligible households with notice of their potential eligibility
  312  to receive financial assistance under the federal broadband
  313  program and shall also direct the members of those households to
  314  other state or federal resources that may provide assistance
  315  with debt relief.
  316         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.