Current 115th Legislation Updates

Broadband has made huge waves in the government at the start of the new year.  The president has signed executive orders to increase the access of broadband to rural areas.  With these orders, there have been a rise in legislation addressing the increased focus on broadband, not only in rural areas but around the nation.  

Here are the most recent bills, mostly addressing the issues of broadband and telecommunications throughout the nation:

S. 2443: Careers Act: To establish a new career counseling program for students who at schools with highly integrated, rigorous, academic and career and technical education programs have significantly higher achievement in reading, mathematics, and science than do students with less integrated programs; Latest Action: Senate – 02/15/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Stabenow, Debbie [D-MI].

H.R. 5020: CTE ActTo provide for the establishment of Education program to award grants to secondary schools that establish a project to encourage students in their junior and senior years to experience career and technical education courses at community college, and for other purposes; Latest Action: House – 02/14/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Loesbsack, David [D-IA-2].

H.R. 5016: Revitalize Rural America Act of 2018: To direct the Secretary of Transportation to establish a Revitalize Rural American Grant Program to generate regional and national economic benefits, improve safety and efficiency of people, commodities and goods, improve connectivity, improve infrastructure and increase access to reliable high-speed internet; Latest Action: House – 2/14/2018 Referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Abraham, Ralph [R-LA-5].

H.R. 5007:Tribal Broadband Deployment Act of 2018:  To direct the FCC to submit to Congress a report evaluating broadband covering in Indian country and on land held by a Native Corporation and to complete a proceeding to address the unserved areas identified in the report; Latest Action: House – 02/13/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Ruiz, Raul [D-CA-36].

S. 2418: Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018: To direct the FCC to promulgate regulations that establish a national standard for determining whether mobile and broadband services available in rural areas are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas; Latest Action: Senate – 02/13/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Hassan, Margaret [D-NH].

H.R. 4986: FCC Reauthorization Act of 2018: To amend the Communications Act of ’34 to reauthorize appropriations for the FCC to provide for certain procedural changes to the rules of the Commission to maximize opportunities for public participation and efficient decision making, and for other purposes; Latest Action: House – 02/08/2018 Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN-7].

S. 2407: Gateway to Careers Act of 2018: To establish a career pathway grant program for a public institution of higher education in an area career and technical education school that provides education at the post secondary level; Latest Action: Senate – 02/08/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Hassan, Margaret [D-NH].

S. 2392: Cyber SAFETY Act of 2018: To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate cybersecurity technologies that qualify for protection under systems of risk and litigation management; Latest Action: Senate – 02/07/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Daines, Steve [R-MT].

H.R. 4947: Rural Infrastructure Development and Partnerships Act: To improve infrastructure in small towns and rural areas; Latest Action: House – 02/06/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Esty, Elizabeth [D-CT-5].

S. 2381: Streamlining and Investing in Broadband Infrastructure Act: To amend title 23, US Code to direct the Secretary of Transportation to require that broadband conduits be installed as a part of certain highway construction projects; Latest Action: Senate – 2/06/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN].

As the 115th Congress’s first year comes to an end, we have evaluated some of more incremental federal legislation toward broadband and related issues.  The updates have been organized into subsections for easier accessibility.

Rights-of-Way

H.R. 4824: Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act of 2018Increase the access of broadband across the nation by reducing government interference and empowering states to speed up the process of bringing broadband to communities; Latest Action: House – 02/08/2018 Referred to the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Curtis, John [R-UT-3].

S. 604: Highway Rights-of-Way Permitting Efficiency Act of 2017: Requires the Department of Agriculture to establish a program to enter into memorandum of understanding with states to allow for permitting of broadband within an operational right-of-way; Latest Action: Senate – 03/09/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Hatch, Orrin [R-UT].

S. 1968: SPEED Act: Permit the processes that impede the quick and efficient deployment of next-generation broadband technologies, including 5G. The SPEED Act would not impede the state or local government to apply and enforce all zoning and land use regulations on communication providers from established Public Right of Ways (ROW’s).  Latest Action: Senate – 10/19/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Wicker, Rogers [R-MS].

S. 1393: Rural Broadband Deployment Streamlining Act: To streamline the process for broadband facility location applications on Federal land, and for other purposes. Latest Action: Senate – 10/02/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Duckworth, Tammy [D-IL].

S. 4800: Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2018: Amend title 23, United States Code, to provide for the inclusion of broadband conduit installation in certain highway construction projects, and for other purposes.  Latest Action: House – 01/17/2018 Referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Eshoo, Anna G [D-CA-18].

Data, Mapping and Research

H.R. 1546: Rural Wireless Act of 2017: Introduced to the senate to require the FCC to establish a consistent method for its collection of coverage data relating to the availability, speed tiers, and performance characteristics of commercial mobile service or commercial mobile data service.  Latest Action: House – 03/17/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Loesback, David [D-IA-2].

H.R. 3994: ACCESS BROADBAND Act: Addresses slow economic growth and spur investment and development and establishes new programs or amends existing programs related to workforce and community development in underserved communities across America; Latest Action: House – 10/13/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Tonko, Paul [D-NY-20].  

S. 645: Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act of 2017: Requires the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce to submit a report regarding effects on the US economy of deployment and adoption of broadband internet; Latest Action: Senate – 03/15/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN].

S. 277: Rural Telecommunications Act and Broadband Service Act of 2017: Introduced to amend the communications act to establish the FCC a Rural Telecommunications and Broadband Advisory Committee to provide advise the FCC, and define what constitutes rural area and telecommunication access; Latest Action: Senate – 02/02/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Manchin, Joe [D-WV].

Funding

H.R. 2870: Gigabit Opportunity Act: Provides tax benefits for investments in gigabit opportunity zones in states. The zones are enabled by state governors to establish and they aim to incite gigabit broadband deployment through a range of tax breaks. It will encourage states, counties and cities on a federal level to adopt broadband laws where these zones would apply. This bill is intended to help bridge the digital gap, especially in rural areas; Latest Action: House – 06/16/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Collins, Doug [R-GA-9].

H.R. 800: New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017: Amends the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to establish a rural broadband office within the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and authorize new grants and loans for developing broadband in rural, underserved, and tribal areas; Latest Action: House – 02/24/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2].

H.R. 4287: Broadband Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2017: Establishes a broadband infrastructure finance and innovation program to make available loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit for the construction and deployment of broadband infrastructure; Latest Action: House – 11/10/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Lujan, Ben Ray [D-NM-3].

H.R. 4291: Precision Farming Act: Utilizes loan and loan guarantees under the rural broadband access program to provide broadband service for agricultural producers in order to improve precision farming and ranching, and for other purposes; Latest Action: House – 12/05/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Stefanik, Elise [R-NY-21].

Municipal Broadband

S. 742: Community Broadband Act of 2017Bars state, local, or tribal governments from prohibiting government entities from serving as “public providers” of telecommunication services to any person, or public or private entity; Latest Action: Senate – 03/28/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Bill Sponsor: Sen. Brooker, Cory [D-NJ].

Lifeline

H.R. 1139: Preserving State Commission (PSC) Act of 2017: Introduced to the senate to nullify a FCC regulation that prohibits a state commission from designating Lifeline broadband providers that are eligible to accept government subsidies in exchange for providing discounted internet service to low-income consumers; Latest Action: House – 02/17/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Cramer, Kevin [R-ND-At Large].

H.R. 1591: WiFi Capable Mobile Devices Act of 2017: Introduced to the house to direct the FCC to issue rules to ensure providers of mobile broadband internet access service supported through Lifeline Assistance Program that offer devices that receive WIFI and share service connections with other devices; Latest Action: House – 03/17/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Welch, Peter [D-VT-At Large].

Tribal

S. 2205: Tribal Connect Act of 2017Bill was introduced to improve access by Indian tribes to support Schools and Libraries through the Universal Service Support program (E-rate) of the Federal Communications Commission, and for other purposes; Latest Action: Senate – 12/07/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Henrich, Martin [D-NM].

H.R. 1581: Tribal Digital Access of 2017: Introduced to amend the Communications Act to extend to Indian reservations and other areas that are in need of telecommunications and information services with better accessibility at reasonable rates; Latest Action: House – 03/17/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Ruiz, Raul [D-CA-36].

Spectrum

S. 19: The MOBILE NOW Act: Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needles Obstacles to Wireless. This legislation bill was passed to increase spectrum availability for next gen gigabit wireless services and foster broadband deployment; Latest Action: House – 08/04/2017 Held at the desk; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Thune, John [R-SD].

Privacy/Security

H.R. 2356: My DATA Act of 2017: Prohibits providers of Internet broadband services of Internet content, applications, or devices from using unfair or deceptive acts of practices relating to privacy or data security; Latest Action: House – 05/05/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection; Bill Sponsor: Rep. McNerney, Jerry [D-CA-9].

Telephone Service

H.R. 460: Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act: Passed to improve the reliability of rural communication and phone networks by setting up service standards or intermediate providers that interconnect rural communications traffic; Latest Action: Senate – 01/24/2017 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Young, David [R-IA-3].

Net Neutrality

H.R. 4585: Save Net Neutrality Act of 2017: This bill prevents the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the matter of restoring Internet freedom adopted by the FCC on May 18, 2017, to satisfy the general notice requirement for ending the FCC’s public-utility regulation of the Internet; Latest Action: House – 12/08/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Maloney, Sean [D-NY-18].

S. 993: Restoring Internet Freedom Act: This bill nullifies the rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on February 26, 2015, relating to the reclassification of broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service; Latest Action: Senate – 05/01/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Bill Sponsor: Sen. Lee, Mike [R-UT].

H.R. 4682: Open Internet Preservation: This bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 by prohibiting broadband internet access service providers from: blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; and impairing or degrading lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, application, or service, or use of a non-harmful device. These prohibitions do not prevent providers from offering specialized services that are offered over the same network and may share network capacity with the broadband internet access service; Latest Action: House – 12/22/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; Bill Sponsor: Rep. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN-7].