Florida Senate - 2022                             CS for SB 1800
       By the Committee on Commerce and Tourism; and Senator Boyd
       577-02253-22                                          20221800c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to broadband infrastructure; amending
    3         s. 288.9961, F.S.; revising the duties of the Florida
    4         Office of Broadband to include administering the
    5         Broadband Pole Replacement Program; creating s.
    6         288.9964, F.S.; providing legislative findings;
    7         defining terms; establishing the Broadband Pole
    8         Replacement Program within the office; providing
    9         responsibilities of the office; providing eligibility
   10         requirements for reimbursement under the program;
   11         providing that reimbursements are subject to the
   12         availability of certain funds; providing that certain
   13         denied applicants may reapply in certain
   14         circumstances; providing requirements for the program
   15         application; requiring the office to provide certain
   16         reimbursements within a certain period of time;
   17         authorizing an applicant to request certain
   18         information from a pole owner under certain
   19         circumstances; requiring an applicant to meet certain
   20         conditions; requiring the Secretary of Economic
   21         Opportunity to apply for certain federal funding for
   22         the program; requiring that the amount of state funds
   23         allocated to the program be reduced by the amount of
   24         certain federal funds provided to the program;
   25         requiring the office to publish and continually update
   26         certain information on its public website; requiring
   27         an audit of the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund
   28         within a certain period of time; requiring the office
   29         to provide a report containing specified information
   30         to the Governor and the Legislature within a specified
   31         timeframe; providing that certain provisions do not
   32         require or authorize rulemaking; providing an
   33         appropriation; providing a contingent effective date.
   35  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   37         Section 1. Paragraph (g) is added to subsection (4) of
   38  section 288.9961, Florida Statutes, to read:
   39         288.9961 Promotion of broadband adoption; Florida Office of
   40  Broadband.—
   41         (4) FLORIDA OFFICE OF BROADBAND.—The Florida Office of
   42  Broadband is created within the Division of Community
   43  Development in the department for the purpose of developing,
   44  marketing, and promoting broadband Internet services in this
   45  state. The office, in the performance of its duties, shall do
   46  all of the following:
   47         (g) Administer the Broadband Pole Replacement Program
   48  established in s. 288.9964.
   49         Section 2. Section 288.9964, Florida Statutes, is created
   50  to read:
   51         288.9964Broadband Pole Replacement Program.—
   52         (1)LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that a
   53  broadband pole replacement program administered by the Florida
   54  Office of Broadband is necessary to further the state’s goal of
   55  expanding and accelerating access to broadband service in
   56  unserved areas throughout this state.
   57         (2)DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   58         (a)“Applicant” means a private business, including a
   59  corporation, a limited liability company, a partnership, a
   60  nonprofit corporation, or any other private business entity that
   61  provides or will provide qualifying broadband service in this
   62  state.
   63         (b)“Application” means an application made under this
   64  section for an eligible pole replacement reimbursement.
   65         (c)“Broadband Internet service” means a service that
   66  offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for
   67  transmission at a consistent speed of at least 25 megabits per
   68  second downstream and 3 megabits per second upstream.
   69         (d)“Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund” means the trust
   70  fund established pursuant to s. 288.9965.
   71         (e)“Eligible pole replacement” means the removal of an
   72  existing utility pole and its replacement with a new utility
   73  pole in an unserved area in order to accommodate the attachment
   74  to such new utility pole of facilities used in whole or in part
   75  by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service for the
   76  purpose of providing qualifying broadband service access to
   77  residences or businesses in that unserved area. The term does
   78  not include the removal and replacement of an existing utility
   79  pole by the owner or an affiliated company unless the removal or
   80  replacement is performed as an accommodation to a provider of
   81  qualifying broadband services.
   82         (f)“Eligible pole replacement costs” means the actual
   83  costs to perform an eligible pole replacement which are paid by
   84  an applicant, excluding any amount separately reimbursed through
   85  another state or federal broadband grant program or by some
   86  other governmental entity. The term includes the costs to remove
   87  and dispose of the existing utility pole, to purchase and
   88  install a replacement utility pole, and to transfer any existing
   89  facilities to the replacement utility pole.
   90         (g)“Office” means the Florida Office of Broadband.
   91         (h)“Pole” means any pole used in whole or in part for wire
   92  communications or electric distribution.
   93         (i)“Pole owner” means any electric utility as defined in
   94  s. 366.02(2), public utility as defined in s. 366.02(1),
   95  communications services provider as defined in s. 366.02(5),
   96  cable television operator, or local exchange carrier that owns
   97  or controls a pole.
   98         (j)“Program” means the Broadband Pole Replacement Program
   99  established under this section.
  100         (k)“Qualifying broadband service” means a fixed,
  101  terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet service capable
  102  of delivering Internet access at speeds of at least 100 megabits
  103  per second both downstream and upstream with latency at a level
  104  sufficient to allow real-time, interactive applications.
  105         (l)“Reimbursed through another state or federal broadband
  106  grant program” means, with respect to eligible pole replacement
  107  costs, that an applicant paying such costs has received or is
  108  entitled to receive reimbursement for such costs under the terms
  109  of another state or federal broadband grant program for the
  110  deployment of broadband facilities, whether through a specific
  111  reimbursement for such costs or through support payments that
  112  equal or exceed the person’s actual deployment costs, including
  113  eligible pole replacement costs. The term does not include the
  114  receipt of a state or federal grant that covers only a portion
  115  of the applicant’s actual deployment costs, including eligible
  116  pole replacement costs, if the applicant pays the eligible pole
  117  replacement costs with its own funds.
  118         (m)“Unserved area” means a location in which:
  119         1.At the time of a request by a retail provider of
  120  qualifying broadband service to attach facilities to a pole in
  121  such location, fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband
  122  Internet service is unavailable, according to the latest
  123  available broadband deployment data from the Federal
  124  Communications Commission, provided that no person other than
  125  the applicant has committed to providing qualifying broadband
  126  service in such area; or
  127         2.An applicant is committed under the terms of a federal
  128  or state grant to provide qualifying broadband service, provided
  129  that the availability of such grant is limited to areas lacking
  130  access to fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet
  131  service.
  133         (a)The Broadband Pole Replacement Program is established
  134  within the Florida Office of Broadband. The office shall
  135  administer the program and is responsible for receiving and
  136  reviewing applications and distributing reimbursements under the
  137  program.
  138         (b)Any applicant that pays eligible pole replacement costs
  139  is eligible for reimbursement of such costs under the program
  140  and may submit an application for reimbursement in accordance
  141  with this section.
  142         (c)Reimbursements provided under the program are subject
  143  to the availability of funds in the Broadband Pole Replacement
  144  Trust Fund. The office shall accept applications for
  145  reimbursement until all funds in the Broadband Pole Replacement
  146  Trust Fund are exhausted.
  147         (d)An application pending when all funds in the Broadband
  148  Pole Replacement Trust Fund are exhausted is deemed denied;
  149  however, the applicant may reapply if sufficient funds are later
  150  made available in the trust fund.
  151         (e)Within 60 days after the first deposit of funds into
  152  the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund, the office shall
  153  publish an application form for reimbursement of eligible pole
  154  replacement costs under the program. The application must
  155  require the following:
  156         1.Information sufficient to establish the number and cost
  157  of eligible pole replacements that qualify for reimbursement
  158  under the program.
  159         2.Documentation sufficient to establish that the claimed
  160  eligible pole replacements have been completed.
  161         3.The total reimbursement amount requested and any state
  162  or federal grant funding or accounting information required to
  163  justify the amount requested.
  164         4.A notarized statement from an officer or agent of the
  165  applicant certifying that the contents of the application are
  166  true and accurate and that such applicant will comply with the
  167  requirements of this section as a condition of receiving
  168  reimbursement under the program.
  169         5.Receipts verifying the amount of eligible pole
  170  replacement costs paid by the applicant.
  171         (f)Within 60 days after receipt of a complete application
  172  that establishes an applicant’s eligible pole replacement costs,
  173  the office shall reimburse the applicant in an amount equal to:
  174         1.Up to 50 percent of the total amount paid or $5,000,
  175  whichever is less, by such applicant for eligible pole
  176  replacement costs; and
  177         2.Up to 100 percent of the documented actual and
  178  reasonable administrative expenses paid by such applicant in
  179  preparing and submitting the application, including any
  180  administrative expenses charged by a pole owner pursuant to
  181  paragraph (g). The amount reimbursed under this subparagraph may
  182  not exceed 5 percent of eligible pole replacement costs set
  183  forth in the application.
  184         (g)If such information is not otherwise reasonably
  185  available, an applicant may request that a pole owner performing
  186  an eligible pole replacement provide the number and costs of the
  187  pole replacements and receipts verifying the amount of eligible
  188  pole replacement costs paid by the applicant. A pole owner
  189  providing such information and documentation may require
  190  reimbursement from the applicant of its administrative expenses,
  191  which may not exceed 5 percent of the eligible pole replacement
  192  costs.
  193         (h)As a condition of receiving reimbursement under the
  194  program, an applicant must:
  195         1.Certify its compliance with the requirements of this
  196  section; and
  197         2.Agree to refund with interest at the applicable Federal
  198  Funds rate as specified by s. 670.506 any reimbursements or
  199  portions thereof received under the program to the Broadband
  200  Pole Replacement Trust Fund or the General Revenue Fund, at the
  201  direction of the office, if the office finds, upon substantial
  202  evidence and after providing such applicant with notice and an
  203  opportunity to respond, that such applicant materially violated
  204  a requirement of this section with respect to such
  205  reimbursements or portions thereof.
  206         (i)If applicable, an applicant that is a pole owner that
  207  calculates its pole rental and other fees on the basis of a
  208  formula required or approved by federal or state law or
  209  regulation which includes consideration of the pole owner’s
  210  expenses, must, as a condition of receiving reimbursement under
  211  the program, exclude from such expenses any eligible pole
  212  replacement costs that were reimbursed by the program, paid for
  213  by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service, or funded
  214  by another state or federal grant.
  215         (4)PROGRAM FUNDING.—
  216         (a)The Secretary of Economic Opportunity shall apply for
  217  $100 million in federal funding for the program, including funds
  218  available under the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, pursuant
  219  to the authorization set forth in s. 9901 of the American Rescue
  220  Plan Act of 2021 and codified at s. 604, Title VI of the Social
  221  Security Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 801, et seq. Any such funds received
  222  must be deposited into the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust
  223  Fund.
  224         (b)The amount of state funds allocated to the program must
  225  be reduced by the amount of federal funds provided to the
  226  program from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund.
  227         (5)TRANSPARENCY.—Within 60 days after the initial deposit
  228  of funds into the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund, the
  229  office shall publish, and thereafter continually update, the
  230  following information on its public website:
  231         (a)Statistics on the number of applications received,
  232  processed, and rejected under the program.
  233         (b)Statistics on the value, number, and status of
  234  reimbursements provided under the program, including the names
  235  of pole owners and retail providers of qualifying broadband
  236  service which received reimbursements under the program.
  237         (c)The amount of funds remaining in the Broadband Pole
  238  Replacement Trust Fund.
  239         (6)AUDIT.—Within 1 year after the initial deposit of funds
  240  into the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund, the Auditor
  241  General shall audit the fund and its administration for
  242  compliance with the requirements of this section and s.
  243  288.9965.
  244         (7)REPORT.—Within 1 year after all funds in the Broadband
  245  Pole Replacement Trust Fund are exhausted, the office shall
  246  provide a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate,
  247  and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which identifies
  248  and examines the deployment of broadband infrastructure and
  249  technology facilitated by reimbursements provided under the
  250  program.
  251         (8)RULEMAKING.—Rulemaking by the department, the office,
  252  or any other agency is not required to administer and is not
  253  authorized by this section.
  254         Section 3. For the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the sum of $400
  255  million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated from the General
  256  Revenue Fund, from payments received by the state pursuant to
  257  the Federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund established
  258  in 42 U.S.C. s. 802, to the Florida Office of Broadband within
  259  the Department of Economic Opportunity for the purpose of
  260  administering the Broadband Opportunity Program established in
  261  s. 288.9962, Florida Statutes.
  262         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law,
  263  if SB 1802 or similar legislation is adopted in the same
  264  legislative session or an extension thereof and becomes a law.