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Several new bills look to accelerate broadband expansion

With the federal government making massive investment in expanding broadband, here in Virginia lawmakers are hoping to direct that money to close gaps in service. Governor Glenn Youngkin recently signed a bill that accelerates broadband deployment across state-owned property.

Delegate Emily Brewer is a Republican from Isle of Wight County who introduced the bill.
"So, for example, the commonwealth owns this little strip of land where they already have an easement for a gas line or it could be sewage or water. It'll just allow the same opportunities as we're working toward broadband to be able to use that same easement," she noted.

The governor is also considering a different bill introduced by Senator Jennifer Boysko, a Democrat from Herndon, that would create a new advisory group.

Boysko says the idea is to make sure land-use decisions by local governments consider broadband infrastructure as part of new developments. "The purpose of this bill, which puts together a stakeholders groups of the builders and the local governments and the utility companies and the providers together in the same room so that we can work out this last group so that we can get everyone covered in Virginia."

The governor is also considering a third bill that would create a broadband affordability map, helping direct federal resources to Virginians who might need financial help gaining access.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.