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Michigan broadband bill is dead, for now

Oct 25, 2017

The bill would have blocked local governments from using federal, state or local money to provide internet services. The only exception would have been if it's done through private-public partnerships.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton, would not comment on why she is not moving the bill forward. She is the chair of the House Communications and Technology Committee, to which the bill had been referred.

Ben Fineman is glad to see the bill go. He's president of the Michigan Broadband Cooperative, a grassroots initiative to advance broadband in rural Michigan.

"We'd like to see our legislature provide more tools for communities to expand their broadband access as opposed to fewer tools," said Fineman.

Communities are engaging with providing broadband access because citizens are asking them to, according to Fineman.

"And that's because coverage isn't available, or because coverage is only available from a single provider, or because the coverage that is available is not meeting the demands of the community," said Fineman.

"The bill would discourage a lot of communities from engaging in this topic, and it would in fact hamper a lot of efforts that are already underway," said Fineman.

Fineman said the bill would have left communities with inadequate internet access behind. He said broadband internet access is essential to participating in modern society.

The bill is HB 5099.