LEMOYNE, Pa. — The Pennsylvania State Grange issued the following statement regarding two Broadband bills that passed the PA House 202-0.
The PA State Grange hails the unanimous vote by the PA House for House Bill 2348 and House Bill 2438 on June 10. Hopefully, the votes understand a growing awareness by legislators that the Digital Divide must be bridged especially since rural PA was left even further behind by the coronavirus crisis. Universal access to high-speed Broadband is the top legislative priority of the PA State Grange because rural Pennsylvania is on the wrong side of the Digital Divide. Broadband is in this century what Rural Electrification was to the 20th Century. Rural Electrification allowed rural commerce to expand and provided access to education and health care.
Now, almost a century after, we are in the same boat with rural America being left behind technologically. In today’s world, how can farmers grow crops efficiently and compete in the global market? How can rural students be competitive with their non-rural counterparts? How can the rural elderly, the disabled, and those with chronic conditions take advantages of the opportunities afforded by Telemedicine? How can rural businesses market their products and services effectively? The answer to all four questions is that they cannot without access to high-speed Broadband.
While these bills by themselves do not achieve this goal, they make real progress by:
Creating a funding stream to help finance expansion of high-speed Broadband (with at least a 25% match by the recipient). House Bill 2348 is sponsored by Rep. Marty Causer (McKean/Cameron/Potter), Majority Chair of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.
Making it easier for rural electric cooperatives to upgrade existing electric lines to provide high-speed Broadband. House Bill 2438 is sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (Tioga/Bradford/Potter).
We hope that leadership by Representatives Causer and Owlett will pave the way for other legislative Broadband initiatives to also receive consideration by the House of Representatives.
–PA State Grange