House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has announced a third series of bills introduced by subcommittee members on expanding broadband infrastructure in rural America. These bills are intended to advance broadband deployment in disaster areas, support innovation, and remove obstacles to expansion, and include:
- The Restoring Economic Strength and Telecommunications Operations by Releasing Expected Dollars (Restored) Act, introduced by Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND), proposes to permit companies eligible for funds under the Universal Service Fund’s High-Cost program to elect up to a seven-month advance payment of funds to aid in the restoration of services in Presidentially-declared disaster areas;
- The Connecting Communities Post Disasters Act, sponsored by Representative Pete Olson (R-TX), proposes a five-year categorical exclusion from environmental and historical reviews for communications facilities in Presidentially-declared disaster areas for replacement and improvements to facilities;
- The Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure Act sponsored by Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), proposes to exempt from environmental and historic preservation reviews broadband facilities on federal property where a communications facility has already been granted on the same property, broadband facilities that meet certain parameters in existing rights-of-way, and expansion of broadband facilities if the expansion is no more than 30 feet in any direction;
- The Broadband Deployment Streamlining Act, introduced by Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN), would direct the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to issue regulations within one-year to streamline application processes to locate or modify communications facilities on public lands, including instituting a shot clock by which applications must be granted or denied; and
- A bill sponsored by Representative Bill Flores (R-TX) to express the sense of the House of Representatives that environmental and historic reviews of broadband facilities should be narrowly tailored and proportional to lands that are physically impacted by the deployment of such facilities.