A proposal that would set aside up to $5 million a year for broadband services to accompany controversial highway corridors was among 19 House bills forwarded to Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday. The proposal (HB 969) would send the money to Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise to develop the broadband infrastructure as part of a program designed to spur new or expanded toll roads stretching from Collier County to the Georgia border.
State Representative Loranne Ausley, a Tallahassee Democrat who co-sponsored the proposal, said in February that people take broadband for granted in urban areas.
“It allows stay-at-home moms to stay current in their profession or to have a stay-at-home business,” Ausley said Feb. 26 on the House floor. “It allows adults in the workforce to up-skill or seek new opportunities. These opportunities are simply not available in many rural areas.”
The proposal would also shift broadband policy responsibilities from the Department of Management Services to the Department of Economic Opportunity and would create a Florida Office of Broadband to develop, market and promote the services.
DeSantis has until June 10 to act on the measure, along with other bills sent to him Tuesday. Most of the House measures were “local” bills, which address issues within specific counties or municipalities, such as a proposal (HB 423) to allow the town of Ocean Breeze in Martin County to hold public meetings outside its boundaries.
Earlier Tuesday, six Senate bills were sent to DeSantis, including a proposal (SB 28) that would pay $2.15 million to Clifford Williams who was wrongfully imprisoned for almost 43 years in a Jacksonville case.