Access to broadband for rural Oregon continues to be a priority for AOC and the Oregon Legislature. HB 4023 presented a unique opportunity in 2018 to reopen previous discussions around public broadband and rural underserved Oregon. Under current law, the State Chief Information Officer (CIO) is authorized to provide advanced digital telecommunications (i.e. broadband) services only to state agencies and non-profit organizations under certain circumstances.

HB 4023, among other things, broadened this exception and allows the State to provide broadband services to unserved and underserved schools, libraries, local governments and tribes. The bill clarifies that it is not the state’s intent to provide broadband services in direct competition with telecommunications providers that offer comparable broadband services. The bill directs the CIO to appoint an advisory committee within 60-days of the Governor’s signature, including representatives from AOC. The final rules must be presented to the Joint Information Management and Technology Committee. Part of this discussion will include a definition for what constitutes an “unserved” or “underserved” public body. The bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

In other activity, the Legislature advanced HB 4155, the “Net Neutrality” bill of 2018. The engrossed bill was crafted in response to the December 2017 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to repeal the rules governing net neutrality. While limited in scope, HB 4155 prohibits a public body from contracting with a broadband Internet access service provider if that provider engages in paid prioritization, blocks lawful content or applications, or disadvantages lawful Internet content starting January 1, 2019. The Public Utility Commission will convene rulemaking and was granted oversight authority. The bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Contributed by: Amanda Dalton | AOC Consultant