Public Broadband Act Passes House

Faster internet could be on its way to every corner in Washington state if a bill being considered by the Legislature becomes law. Dan Frizzell from the House Democratic Caucus has more.

FRIZZELL: Does this sound familiar?

[SFX: Dial-up modem]

If that’s a blast from the past, you’re lucky. If it’s what you hear every time you want to go online, you might still get lucky, because lawmakers in virtual Olympia have a plan that would let PUDs provide broadband internet in their service areas. It’s being touted as a boon for rural areas, students, businesses of every size, and parents who want to stream a movie without buffering while the kids play World of Warcraft in the next room. The sponsor, Representative Drew Hansen, summed up his bill with a short history lesson.

HANSEN: “There was a problem when electricity wasn’t available in a lot of areas of this state, and a lot of family farms. And the Washington Grange put the very first initiative on the ballot, Initiative number one, to form public utility districts to allow them to offer power directly to the public. This bill does that, but with broadband.”

Hansen, a Democrat from Bainbridge Island, put together a bipartisan coalition in the state House to work on the bill, and the full chamber OK’d it with a two-to-one margin Tuesday afternoon. The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration. Reporting from Olympia, Dan Frizzell.

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