Florida Senate - 2022                      CS for CS for SB 1800
       By the Committees on Appropriations; and Commerce and Tourism;
       and Senators Boyd and Bradley
       576-03564-22                                          20221800c2
    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; requiring the
    6         office to submit an annual report to the Governor and
    7         the Legislature by a specified date; creating s.
    8         288.9964, F.S.; providing legislative findings;
    9         defining terms; establishing the Broadband Pole
   10         Replacement Program within the office; providing
   11         responsibilities of the office; providing eligibility
   12         requirements for reimbursement under the program;
   13         providing that reimbursements are subject to the
   14         availability of certain funds; providing that certain
   15         denied applicants may reapply in certain
   16         circumstances; providing requirements for the program
   17         application; requiring the office to provide certain
   18         reimbursements within a certain period of time;
   19         authorizing an applicant to request certain
   20         information from a pole owner under certain
   21         circumstances; requiring an applicant to meet certain
   22         conditions; requiring the office to publish and
   23         continually update certain information on its public
   24         website; authorizing rulemaking; providing an
   25         effective date.
   27  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   29         Section 1. Paragraph (g) is added to subsection (4) and
   30  subsection (6) is added to section 288.9961, Florida Statutes,
   31  to read:
   32         288.9961 Promotion of broadband adoption; Florida Office of
   33  Broadband.—
   34         (4) FLORIDA OFFICE OF BROADBAND.—The Florida Office of
   35  Broadband is created within the Division of Community
   36  Development in the department for the purpose of developing,
   37  marketing, and promoting broadband Internet services in this
   38  state. The office, in the performance of its duties, shall do
   39  all of the following:
   40         (g) Administer the Broadband Pole Replacement Program
   41  established in s. 288.9964.
   42         (6)REPORT.—Annually by January 31, the office shall
   43  provide a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate,
   44  and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which provides
   45  information on activities of the office to meet the requirements
   46  of this section, including any applications made and use of
   47  federal funds for broadband Internet service infrastructure,
   48  deployment, or access. The report shall also include, if funds
   49  have been appropriated to the programs, updates and information
   50  on administration and applications processed under the Broadband
   51  Opportunity Program established in s. 288.9962 and the Broadband
   52  Pole Replacement Program established in s. 288.9964, including
   53  identifying and examining the deployment of broadband
   54  infrastructure and technology facilitated by reimbursements
   55  provided under the Broadband Pole Replacement Program.
   56         Section 2. Section 288.9964, Florida Statutes, is created
   57  to read:
   58         288.9964Broadband Pole Replacement Program.—
   59         (1)LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that a
   60  broadband pole replacement program administered by the Florida
   61  Office of Broadband is necessary to further the state’s goal of
   62  expanding and accelerating access to broadband service in
   63  unserved areas throughout this state.
   64         (2)DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   65         (a)“Applicant” means a private business, including a
   66  corporation, a limited liability company, a partnership, a
   67  nonprofit corporation, or any other private business entity that
   68  provides or will provide qualifying broadband service in this
   69  state.
   70         (b)“Application” means an application made under this
   71  section for an eligible pole replacement reimbursement.
   72         (c)“Broadband Internet service” means a service that
   73  offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for
   74  transmission at a consistent speed of at least 25 megabits per
   75  second downstream and 3 megabits per second upstream.
   76         (d)“Eligible pole replacement” means the removal of an
   77  existing utility pole and its replacement with a new utility
   78  pole in an unserved area in order to accommodate the attachment
   79  to such new utility pole of facilities used in whole or in part
   80  by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service for the
   81  purpose of providing qualifying broadband service access to
   82  residences or businesses in that unserved area. The term does
   83  not include the removal and replacement of an existing utility
   84  pole by the pole owner or an affiliated company unless the
   85  removal or replacement is performed as an accommodation to a
   86  provider of qualifying broadband service.
   87         (e)“Eligible pole replacement costs” means the actual
   88  costs to perform an eligible pole replacement which are paid by
   89  an applicant, excluding any amount separately reimbursed through
   90  another state or federal broadband grant program or by some
   91  other governmental entity. The term includes the costs to remove
   92  and dispose of the existing utility pole, to purchase and
   93  install a replacement utility pole, and to transfer any existing
   94  facilities to the replacement utility pole.
   95         (f)“Office” means the Florida Office of Broadband.
   96         (g)“Pole” means any pole used in whole or in part for wire
   97  communications or electric distribution.
   98         (h)“Pole owner” means any electric utility as defined in
   99  s. 366.02(2), public utility as defined in s. 366.02(1),
  100  communications services provider as defined in s. 366.02(5),
  101  cable television operator, or local exchange carrier that owns
  102  or controls a pole.
  103         (i)“Program” means the Broadband Pole Replacement Program
  104  established under this section.
  105         (j)“Qualifying broadband service” means a fixed,
  106  terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet service capable
  107  of delivering Internet access at speeds of at least 100 megabits
  108  per second both downstream and upstream with latency at a level
  109  sufficient to allow real-time, interactive applications.
  110         (k)“Reimbursed through another state or federal broadband
  111  grant program” means, with respect to eligible pole replacement
  112  costs, that an applicant paying such costs has received or is
  113  entitled to receive reimbursement for such costs under the terms
  114  of another state or federal broadband grant program for the
  115  deployment of broadband facilities, whether through a specific
  116  reimbursement for such costs or through support payments that
  117  equal or exceed the person’s actual deployment costs, including
  118  eligible pole replacement costs. The term does not include the
  119  receipt of a state or federal grant that covers only a portion
  120  of the applicant’s actual deployment costs, including eligible
  121  pole replacement costs, if the applicant pays the eligible pole
  122  replacement costs with its own funds.
  123         (l)“Unserved area” means a location in which:
  124         1.At the time of a request by a retail provider of
  125  qualifying broadband service to attach facilities to a pole in
  126  such location, fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband
  127  Internet service is unavailable, according to the latest
  128  available broadband deployment data from the Federal
  129  Communications Commission, provided that no person other than
  130  the applicant has committed to providing qualifying broadband
  131  service in such area; or
  132         2.An applicant is committed under the terms of a federal
  133  or state grant to provide qualifying broadband service, provided
  134  that the availability of such grant is limited to areas lacking
  135  access to fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet
  136  service.
  138         (a)The Broadband Pole Replacement Program is established
  139  within the Florida Office of Broadband. The office shall
  140  administer the program and is responsible for receiving and
  141  reviewing applications and distributing reimbursements under the
  142  program.
  143         (b)Any applicant that pays eligible pole replacement costs
  144  after July 1, 2022, is eligible for reimbursement of such costs
  145  under the program and may submit an application for
  146  reimbursement in accordance with this section.
  147         (c)Reimbursements provided under the program are subject
  148  to the availability of funds. The office shall accept
  149  applications for reimbursement until all funds appropriated to
  150  the program are exhausted. Reimbursements shall be made on a
  151  first-come, first-served basis. The office shall publish on its
  152  website information regarding the availability of funds and the
  153  date when applications may begin to be submitted.
  154         (d)An application pending when all funds are exhausted is
  155  deemed denied; however, the applicant may reapply if sufficient
  156  funds are later made available.
  157         (e)By September 1, 2022, the office shall publish an
  158  application form for reimbursement of eligible pole replacement
  159  costs under the program. The application must require the
  160  following:
  161         1.Information sufficient to establish the number and cost
  162  of eligible pole replacements that qualify for reimbursement
  163  under the program.
  164         2.Documentation sufficient to establish that the claimed
  165  eligible pole replacements have been completed.
  166         3.The total reimbursement amount requested and any state
  167  or federal grant funding or accounting information required to
  168  justify the amount requested.
  169         4.A notarized statement from an officer or agent of the
  170  applicant certifying that the contents of the application are
  171  true and accurate and that such applicant will comply with the
  172  requirements of this section as a condition of receiving
  173  reimbursement under the program.
  174         5.Receipts verifying the amount of eligible pole
  175  replacement costs paid by the applicant.
  176         6. Documentation sufficient to establish the actual and
  177  reasonable administrative expenses paid by such applicant in
  178  preparing and submitting the application.
  179         7. Any other information or documentation required by the
  180  department to comply with the requirements or conditions, as
  181  applicable, of any federal funding used to pay reimbursements
  182  under the program.
  183         (f)Within 60 days after receipt of a complete application
  184  that establishes an applicant’s eligible pole replacement costs,
  185  the office shall reimburse the applicant in an amount equal to
  186  up to 50 percent of the total amount paid or $5,000, whichever
  187  is less, by such applicant for eligible pole replacement costs.
  188         (g) Reimbursements made under this program from funds
  189  appropriated from any federal funding received by this state
  190  must also be made in compliance with any requirements or
  191  conditions for use of such federal funds.
  192         (h)If the information required for application is not
  193  otherwise reasonably available to an applicant, an applicant may
  194  request that a pole owner performing an eligible pole
  195  replacement provide the number and costs of the pole
  196  replacements and receipts verifying the amount of eligible pole
  197  replacement costs paid by the applicant.
  198         (i)As a condition of receiving reimbursement under the
  199  program, an applicant must:
  200         1.Certify its compliance with the requirements of this
  201  section and with any federal conditions or requirements for use
  202  of federal funds as applicable; and
  203         2.Agree to refund with interest at the applicable Federal
  204  Funds rate as specified by s. 670.506 any reimbursements or
  205  portions thereof received under the program to the department,
  206  at the direction of the office, if the office finds, upon
  207  substantial evidence and after providing such applicant with
  208  notice and an opportunity to respond, that such applicant
  209  materially violated a requirement of this section with respect
  210  to such reimbursements or portions thereof. Any funds received
  211  by the office under this subparagraph shall be deposited into
  212  the fund from which the appropriation was made.
  213         (j)If applicable, an applicant that is a pole owner that
  214  calculates its pole rental and other fees on the basis of a
  215  formula required or approved by federal or state law or
  216  regulation which includes consideration of the pole owner’s
  217  expenses must, as a condition of receiving reimbursement under
  218  the program, exclude from such expenses any eligible pole
  219  replacement costs that were reimbursed by the program, paid for
  220  by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service, or funded
  221  by another state or federal grant.
  222         (4)TRANSPARENCY.—The office shall publish and continually
  223  update the following information on its website:
  224         (a)Statistics on the number of applications received,
  225  processed, and denied under the program.
  226         (b)Statistics on the value, number, and status of
  227  reimbursements provided under the program, including the names
  228  of pole owners and retail providers of qualifying broadband
  229  service which received reimbursements under the program.
  230         (c)The amount of funds remaining from any appropriation.
  231         (5)RULEMAKING.—The department is authorized to adopt rules
  232  to establish the application and the conditions or requirements
  233  that must be met in order to use and receive any federal funding
  234  appropriated to the program.
  235         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022.