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Enrolled Senate Bill (S)

DIGEST

Broadband development. Establishes the rural broadband fund for the purpose of awarding grants: (1) before August 1, 2019, under the existing statute governing grants for qualified broadband projects for unserved areas in Indiana; and (2) after July 31, 2019, under new procedures governing grants for eligible broadband projects for rural areas in Indiana. Requires the office of community and rural affairs (office) to establish procedures for the awarding of grants from the fund after July 31, 2019, by state agencies to eligible broadband service providers for eligible broadband projects in rural areas of Indiana. Provides that the procedures established by Broadband development. Establishes the rural broadband fund for the purpose of awarding grants: (1) before August 1, 2019, under the existing statute governing grants for qualified broadband projects for unserved areas in Indiana; and (2) after July 31, 2019, under new procedures governing grants for eligible broadband projects for rural areas in Indiana. Requires the office of community and rural affairs (office) to establish procedures for the awarding of grants from the fund after July 31, 2019, by state agencies to eligible broadband service providers for eligible broadband projects in rural areas of Indiana. Provides that the procedures established by the office must establish specified priorities for the awarding of grants, based on the available Internet speeds in a particular area. Provides that the procedures established by the office may not permit the awarding of a grant from the fund for any proposed broadband project in an area in which eligible broadband service is available. Provides that the procedures established by the office may not permit the office to award a grant from the fund for any project in a rural area for which funding has been allocated from certain federal funding programs. Provides that the procedures established by the office must establish a system of priorities for awarding grants, weighted as determined by the office in guidelines adopted by the office, that gives preference to eligible broadband projects that meet certain specified criteria. Requires an eligible broadband service provider awarded a grant to sign with the office a grant agreement that: (1) outlines a start date and an end date for completion of the project; and (2) conditions the release of any grant funds on the progressive completion of the project. Beginning in 2020, requires the office to submit to the general assembly an annual report on the awarding of grants under these procedures during the most recent state fiscal year. Provides that every three years, beginning in 2021, the state board of accounts shall conduct an audit of the awarding of grants from the fund during the most recent three state fiscal years. Provides that a communications service provider that holds a certificate of territorial authority shall be designated as a public utility solely as that term is used in federal law that allows a state to exempt a public utility from the federal law's requirement that the state must charge fair market value for the use of real property acquired by the state using federal transportation funding. Provides that the department of transportation (INDOT) may not charge an access rate or any other recurring charge or recurring fee for communications infrastructure that is located before May 1, 2019, in any rights-of-way that are owned or controlled by INDOT. Specifies that INDOT may charge routine right-of-way permit fees to enter INDOT's rights-of-way for the maintenance of existing facilities. Provides that the department may create a broadband corridor program to manage communications infrastructure along or within limited access highway rights-of-way. Specifies that for purposes of the broadband corridor program, "communications infrastructure" does not include privately owned vertical structures used primarily for providing wireless communications service. Provides that: (1) INDOT may not unreasonably discriminate among entities requesting access to broadband corridors or other INDOT controlled rights-of-way; and (2) the bill's provisions prohibiting INDOT from discriminating among such entities do not abrogate or limit INDOT's statutory authority to safely and efficiently manage and operate the state highway system and associated highway rights-of-way. Provides that, before July 1, 2020, INDOT shall adopt rules to provide that, as used throughout the department's administrative code regarding utility facility relocation for purposes of construction contracts, "utility" has the meaning set forth in federal law concerning utility relocations, adjustments, and reimbursement. ... View more