Florida Senate - 2021                      CS for CS for SB 1560
       By the Committees on Appropriations; and Commerce and Tourism;
       and Senator Ausley
       576-04435-21                                          20211560c2
    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; redefining and defining terms; revising the
    5         duties of the Florida Office of Broadband within the
    6         Department of Economic Opportunity; requiring the
    7         office’s strategic plan to include short-term and
    8         long-term goals and strategies for increasing the
    9         availability of and access to broadband Internet
   10         service in this state; providing requirements for the
   11         development of the plan; requiring the updated plan to
   12         be submitted to the Governor, the Chief Justice of the
   13         Supreme Court, and the Legislature by a specified
   14         date; requiring the plan to be updated biennially;
   15         requiring local technology planning teams or
   16         partnerships to work with rural communities for
   17         specified purposes; requiring the office to provide
   18         technical and planning assistance related to broadband
   19         infrastructure to rural communities; requiring the
   20         office to develop geographic information system maps
   21         in collaboration with specified entities and
   22         consistent with certain federal reporting standards by
   23         a specified date; specifying required contents of the
   24         maps; requiring the department to annually update such
   25         maps and establish a mechanism to receive and verify
   26         governmental and public input related to broadband
   27         Internet service; authorizing the department to work
   28         collaboratively with specified entities in developing
   29         the mechanism; requiring the office to develop a
   30         broadband infrastructure asset map by a specified
   31         date; specifying required contents of the map;
   32         providing that certain information provided to the
   33         department from broadband service providers retains
   34         its exemption from public disclosure; providing
   35         rulemaking authority; creating s. 364.0136, F.S.;
   36         creating the Broadband Opportunity Program within the
   37         office; providing for administration of the program;
   38         providing requirements for grant awards; providing
   39         eligibility requirements; providing application
   40         requirements; requiring the office to publish certain
   41         information related to grant applications and grant
   42         awards on its website; authorizing grant applications
   43         to be challenged under certain circumstances;
   44         specifying contents of a challenge; providing
   45         procedures to be used by the office in evaluating
   46         challenges; providing direction for prioritizing grant
   47         funding; specifying conditions for the award of
   48         grants; requiring the office to enter into an
   49         agreement containing specified information with each
   50         grant recipient; requiring the office to publish
   51         specified information annually on its website and
   52         include the information in the department’s annual
   53         report; authorizing the department to adopt rules;
   54         providing an effective date.
   56  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   58         Section 1. Section 364.0135, Florida Statutes, is amended
   59  to read:
   60         364.0135 Promotion of broadband adoption; Florida Office of
   61  Broadband.—
   62         (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that the
   63  sustainable adoption of broadband Internet service is critical
   64  to the economic and business development of this the state and
   65  is essential beneficial for all residents of this state,
   66  libraries, schools, colleges and universities, health care
   67  providers, and community organizations.
   68         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   69         (a) “Department” means the Department of Economic
   70  Opportunity.
   71         (b) “Office” means the Florida Office of Broadband.
   72         (c) “Sustainable adoption” means the ability for
   73  communications service providers to offer broadband services in
   74  all areas of this the state by encouraging adoption and use
   75  utilization levels that allow for these services to be offered
   76  in the free market absent the need for governmental subsidy.
   77         (d) “Underserved” means a geographic area of this the state
   78  in which there is no provider of broadband Internet service that
   79  offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for
   80  transmission at a consistent speed of at least 100 10 megabits
   81  per second downstream and at least 10 megabits 1 megabit per
   82  second upstream.
   83         (e) “Unserved” means a geographic area of this state in
   84  which there is no provider of broadband Internet service that
   85  offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for
   86  transmission at a consistent speed of at least 25 megabits per
   87  second downstream and at least 3 megabits per second upstream.
   88         (3) STATE AGENCY.—The department is designated as the lead
   89  state agency to facilitate the expansion of broadband Internet
   90  service in this the state. The department shall work
   91  collaboratively with private businesses and receive staffing
   92  support and other resources from Enterprise Florida, Inc., state
   93  agencies, local governments, and community organizations.
   94         (4) FLORIDA OFFICE OF BROADBAND.—The Florida Office of
   95  Broadband is created within the Division of Community
   96  Development in the department for the purpose of developing,
   97  marketing, and promoting broadband Internet services in this the
   98  state. The office, in the performance of its duties, shall do
   99  all of the following:
  100         (a) Create a strategic plan that has short-term and long
  101  term goals and strategies for increasing and improving the
  102  availability of and access to use of broadband Internet service
  103  in this the state. In development of the plan, the department
  104  shall incorporate applicable federal broadband activities,
  105  including any efforts or initiatives of the Federal
  106  Communications Commission, to improve broadband Internet service
  107  in this state. The plan must identify available federal funding
  108  sources for the expansion or improvement of broadband. The
  109  strategic plan must be submitted to the Governor, the Chief
  110  Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the Senate, and
  111  the Speaker of the House of Representatives by June 30, 2022.
  112  The strategic plan must be updated biennially thereafter The
  113  plan must include a process to review and verify public input
  114  regarding transmission speeds and availability of broadband
  115  Internet service throughout the state.
  116         (b) Build and facilitate local technology planning teams or
  117  partnerships with members representing cross-sections of the
  118  community, which may include, but are not limited to,
  119  representatives from the following organizations and industries:
  120  libraries, K-12 education, colleges and universities, local
  121  health care providers, private businesses, community
  122  organizations, economic development organizations, local
  123  governments, tourism, parks and recreation, and agriculture. The
  124  local technology planning teams or partnerships shall work with
  125  rural communities to help the communities understand their
  126  current broadband availability, locate unserved and underserved
  127  businesses and residents, identify assets relevant to broadband
  128  deployment, build partnerships with broadband service providers,
  129  and identify opportunities to leverage assets and reduce
  130  barriers to the deployment of broadband Internet services in the
  131  community. The teams or partnerships must be proactive in
  132  fiscally constrained counties in identifying and providing
  133  assistance with applying for federal grants for broadband
  134  Internet service.
  135         (c)Provide technical and planning assistance related to
  136  broadband infrastructure to rural communities.
  137         (d)(c) Encourage the use of broadband Internet service,
  138  especially in the rural, unserved, or underserved communities of
  139  this the state through grant programs having effective
  140  strategies to facilitate the statewide deployment of broadband
  141  Internet service. For any grants to be awarded, priority must be
  142  given to projects that:
  143         1. Provide access to broadband education, awareness,
  144  training, access, equipment, and support to libraries, schools,
  145  colleges and universities, health care providers, and community
  146  support organizations.
  147         2. Encourage the sustainable adoption of broadband in
  148  primarily underserved areas by removing barriers to entry.
  149         3. Work toward encouraging investments in establishing
  150  affordable and sustainable broadband Internet service in
  151  underserved areas of this the state.
  152         4. Facilitate the development of applications, programs,
  153  and services, including, but not limited to, telework,
  154  telemedicine, and e-learning to increase the usage of, and
  155  demand for, broadband Internet service in this the state.
  156         (e)(d) Monitor, participate in, and provide input in
  157  proceedings of the Federal Communications Commission and other
  158  federal agencies related to the geographic availability and
  159  deployment of broadband Internet service in this the state as
  160  necessary to ensure that this information is accurately
  161  presented and that rural, unserved, and underserved areas of
  162  this the state are best positioned to benefit from federal and
  163  state broadband deployment programs.
  164         (f)By June 30, 2022, and subject to appropriation, develop
  165  geographic information system maps of broadband Internet service
  166  availability throughout this state. The office shall collaborate
  167  with broadband service providers, state agencies, local
  168  governmental entities, private businesses, educational
  169  institutions, and community organizations and leaders to develop
  170  such maps.
  171         1.The maps must do all of the following:
  172         a.Be consistent with the Digital Opportunity Data
  173  Collection program reporting standards established by the
  174  Federal Communications Commission.
  175         b.Identify where broadband-capable networks exist and
  176  broadband Internet service is available to end users.
  177         c.Identify download and upload transmission speeds made
  178  available to businesses and individuals in this state.
  179         d.Identify gaps in broadband Internet service coverage,
  180  specifying underserved and unserved areas within those areas of
  181  this state designated as a rural area of opportunity under s.
  182  288.0656(2).
  183         e.Include any other mapping information already compiled
  184  by other state agencies.
  185         f.Be updated annually.
  186         2.Any mapping data received from another governmental
  187  entity or a contractor must be verified. Such data must be
  188  verified against the source of the data and whether such entity
  189  is able to demonstrate that it has employed a sound and reliable
  190  methodology in the collection, organization, and verification of
  191  the data it has submitted to the office. If a governmental
  192  entity enters into a valid contract with a contractor to collect
  193  broadband availability data, the entity must describe the third
  194  party providing the data as well as the methodology used to
  195  collect, organize, and verify the availability data provided.
  196         3.The office must establish a mechanism to receive and
  197  verify public input which identifies locations in which
  198  broadband Internet service is not available, including locations
  199  in which broadband Internet service is provided at data
  200  transmission speeds below the standard established by the
  201  Federal Communications Commission for broadband Internet
  202  service. Upon verification, the office shall adjust its
  203  geographic information system maps to reflect information
  204  received from the public. In developing and implementing this
  205  mechanism, the office may work in collaboration with, and
  206  receive staffing support and other resources from, Enterprise
  207  Florida, Inc., state agencies, local governments, private
  208  businesses, and community organizations.
  209         (g)By June 30, 2022, and subject to appropriation, develop
  210  a broadband infrastructure asset map that includes, but is not
  211  limited to:
  212         1.State and federal assets, including, but not limited to,
  213  municipally or city-owned towers that may be used by providers;
  214  rights-of-way that may be made available for easier and less
  215  expensive access to burying or stringing fiber optic cable;
  216  public transportation corridors; capital projects that may be
  217  used as an opportunity to lay new fiber optic conduit for future
  218  activation; and federal E-rate funding commitments; and
  219         2.Community-owned land and infrastructure, including, but
  220  not limited to, land that may be leased and utility poles that
  221  may be used to expand broadband networks.
  222         (h)Administer the Broadband Opportunity Program
  223  established in s. 364.0136.
  224         (5)CONFIDENTIALITY.—Any information that is confidential
  225  or exempt from public disclosure under chapter 119 when in the
  226  possession of the department retains its status as confidential
  227  or exempt from disclosure under chapter 119 when provided by a
  228  broadband service provider under this section.
  229         (6)(5) ADMINISTRATION.—The department may:
  230         (a) Apply for and accept federal funds for purposes of this
  231  section.
  232         (b) Enter into contracts necessary or useful to carry out
  233  the purposes of this section.
  234         (c) Establish any committee or workgroup to administer and
  235  carry out the purposes of this section.
  236         Section 2. Section 364.0136, Florida Statutes, is created
  237  to read:
  238         364.0136Broadband Opportunity Program.—
  239         (1)The Broadband Opportunity Program is established within
  240  the Florida Office of Broadband within the Department of
  241  Economic Opportunity to award grants to applicants who seek to
  242  expand broadband Internet service to unserved and underserved
  243  areas of this state. The office must administer and act as
  244  fiscal agent for the program and is responsible for receiving
  245  and reviewing applications and awarding grants. Funding for the
  246  program shall be subject to appropriation.
  247         (2)Grants awarded under this section shall fund the
  248  installation or deployment of infrastructure that supports the
  249  provision of broadband Internet service. State funds may not be
  250  used to install or deploy broadband Internet service to a
  251  geographic area in which broadband Internet service is already
  252  deployed by at least one provider.
  253         (3)Applicants eligible for grant awards include:
  254         (a)Corporations, limited liability companies, general
  255  partnerships, and limited partnerships that are organized under
  256  the laws of this state or otherwise authorized to transact
  257  business in this state.
  258         (b)Indian tribes.
  259         (c) A political subdivision in partnership with a provider
  260  of broadband Internet service.
  261         (4)The office may not award, directly or indirectly,
  262  grants under this section to a governmental entity, a rural
  263  electric cooperative or its broadband affiliate, or an
  264  educational institution or affiliate to provide broadband
  265  Internet service to any residential or commercial premises,
  266  unless other broadband Internet service providers have not
  267  deployed service to an unserved or underserved area. This
  268  subsection does not apply to provision of broadband Internet
  269  service in an unserved or underserved area in a fiscally
  270  constrained county as defined in s. 218.67.
  271         (5)An eligible applicant shall submit a grant application
  272  to the office on a form prescribed by the office. A grant
  273  application must include all of the following information:
  274         (a)A description of the project area.
  275         (b)A description of the kind and amount of broadband
  276  Internet service infrastructure which is proposed.
  277         (c)Evidence demonstrating the unserved or underserved
  278  nature of the project area.
  279         (d)The number of households and businesses which would
  280  have access to broadband Internet service as a result of the
  281  grant.
  282         (e)A list of significant community institutions that would
  283  benefit from the grant.
  284         (f)The total cost of the project and the timeframe in
  285  which it would be completed.
  286         (g)A list identifying sources of funding or in-kind
  287  contributions that would supplement any awarded grant.
  288         (h)Any other information required by the office.
  289         (6)(a)At least 30 days before the first day grant
  290  applications may be submitted each fiscal year, the office shall
  291  publish on its website the specific criteria and quantitative
  292  scoring system it will use to evaluate or rank grant
  293  applications. Such criteria and quantitative scoring system must
  294  include the criteria set forth in subsection (7).
  295         (b)Within 3 business days after the close of the grant
  296  application process, the office shall publish on its website,
  297  from each grant application submitted, the proposed unserved or
  298  underserved areas to be served and the proposed broadband
  299  Internet speeds of the areas to be served.
  300         (c)A broadband Internet service provider that provides
  301  existing service in or adjacent to a proposed project area may
  302  submit to the office, within 45 days after publication of the
  303  information under paragraph (b), a written challenge to an
  304  application. The challenge must contain information
  305  demonstrating that:
  306         1.The provider currently has deployed broadband Internet
  307  service to retail customers within the project area;
  308         2.The provider has begun construction to provide broadband
  309  Internet service to retail customers within the proposed project
  310  area within the timeframe proposed by the applicant; or
  311         3.The provider commits to providing broadband Internet
  312  service to retail customers within the proposed project area
  313  within the timeframe proposed by the applicant.
  314         (d)Within 3 business days after the submission of a
  315  written challenge, the office shall notify the applicant, in
  316  writing, of the challenge.
  317         (e)The office shall evaluate each challenge submitted
  318  under this subsection. If the office determines that the
  319  provider currently has deployed, has begun construction to
  320  provide, or commits to provide broadband Internet service in the
  321  proposed project area, the office may not fund the challenged
  322  project.
  323         (f)If the office denies funding to an applicant as a
  324  result of a broadband Internet service provider’s challenge, and
  325  the provider does not fulfill its commitment to provide
  326  broadband Internet service in the unserved or underserved area,
  327  the office may not consider another challenge from the provider
  328  for the next two grant application cycles, unless the office
  329  determines that the failure to fulfill the commitment was due to
  330  circumstances beyond the provider’s control.
  331         (7)(a)Notwithstanding s. 364.0135(4)(c), in evaluating
  332  grant applications and awarding grants, the office must give
  333  priority to applications that:
  334         1.Offer broadband Internet service to important community
  335  institutions, including, but not limited to, libraries,
  336  educational institutions, public safety facilities, and health
  337  care facilities;
  338         2.Facilitate the use of telemedicine and electronic health
  339  records;
  340         3.Serve economically distressed areas of this state, as
  341  measured by indices of unemployment, poverty, or population loss
  342  which are significantly greater than the statewide average;
  343         4.Provide for scalability to transmission speeds of at
  344  least 100 megabits per second download and 10 megabits per
  345  second upload;
  346         5.Include a component to actively promote the adoption of
  347  the newly available broadband Internet service in the community;
  348         6.Provide evidence of strong support for the project from
  349  residents, government, businesses, and institutions in the
  350  community;
  351         7.Provide access to broadband Internet service to the
  352  greatest number of unserved and underserved households and
  353  businesses;
  354         8.Leverage greater amounts of funding for a project from
  355  private or federal sources; or
  356         9.Demonstrate consistency with the strategic plan adopted
  357  under s. 364.0135.
  358         (b)The office must endeavor to award grants to qualified
  359  applications serving all regions of this state.
  360         (8)(a)A grant awarded under this section may not be used
  361  to serve any retail end user that already has access to
  362  broadband Internet service.
  363         (b)A grant awarded under this section, when combined with
  364  any state, local, or federal funds, may not fund more than 50
  365  percent of the total cost of a project. However, the grant award
  366  may fund more than 50 percent of the total cost of a project in
  367  a fiscally constrained county as defined in s. 218.67.
  368         (c)A single project may not be awarded a grant in excess
  369  of $5 million.
  370         (9)For each grant awarded, the office shall enter into an
  371  agreement with the applicant. The agreement must specify the
  372  total amount of the grant, performance conditions that must be
  373  met to obtain the grant, the schedule of payment, and sanctions
  374  that would apply for failure to meet performance conditions,
  375  including, but not limited to, requiring the return of grant
  376  funds.
  377         (10)By October 15, 2022, and each year thereafter, the
  378  office shall publish on its website and include in the
  379  department’s annual report required under s. 20.60 all of the
  380  following information:
  381         (a)A list of all grant applications received during the
  382  previous fiscal year and for each application:
  383         1.The results of any quantitative weighting or scoring
  384  system the office used to award grants or rank the applications.
  385         2.The grant amounts requested.
  386         3.The grant amounts awarded, if any.
  387         4.A report on the progress of each grant recipient in
  388  acquiring and installing infrastructure that supports the
  389  provision of broadband Internet service in the project areas for
  390  which that grant was awarded and in securing adoption of such
  391  service in each project area.
  392         (b)All written challenges filed during the previous fiscal
  393  year and the results of those challenges.
  394         (11)The department may adopt rules to implement this
  395  section.
  396         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.