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Broadband officeEstablishedPurpose.

(1) The governor's statewide broadband office is established. The director of the office must be appointed by the governor. The office may employ staff necessary to carry out the office's duties as prescribed by chapter 365, Laws of 2019, subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose.
(2) The purpose of the office is to encourage, foster, develop, and improve affordable, quality broadband within the state in order to:
(a) Drive job creation, promote innovation, improve economic vitality, and expand markets for Washington businesses;
(b) Serve the ongoing and growing needs of Washington's education systems, health care systems, public safety systems, industries and business, governmental operations, and citizens; and
(c) Improve broadband accessibility for unserved communities and populations.

NOTES:

Findings2019 c 365: "The legislature finds that:
(1) Access to broadband is critical to full participation in society and the modern economy;
(2) Increasing broadband access to unserved areas of the state serves a fundamental governmental purpose and function and provides a public benefit to the citizens of Washington by enabling access to health care, education, and essential services, providing economic opportunities, and enhancing public health and safety;
(3) Achieving affordable and quality broadband access for all Washingtonians will require additional and sustained investment, research, local and community participation, and partnerships between private, public, and nonprofit entities;
(4) The federal communications commission has adopted a national broadband plan that includes recommendations directed to federal, state, and local governments, including recommendations to:
(a) Design policies to ensure robust competition and maximize consumer welfare, innovation, and investment;
(b) Ensure efficient allocation and management of assets that the government controls or influences to encourage network upgrades and competitive entry;
(c) Reform current universal service mechanisms to support deployment in high-cost areas, ensuring that low-income Americans can afford broadband, and supporting efforts to boost adoption and utilization; and
(d) Reform laws, policies, standards, and incentives to maximize the benefits of broadband in sectors that government influences significantly, such as public education, health care, and government operations;
(5) Extensive investments have been made by the telecommunications industry and the public sector, as well as policies and programs adopted to provide affordable broadband services throughout the state, that will provide a foundation to build a comprehensive statewide framework for additional actions needed to advance the state's broadband goals; and
(6) Providing additional funding mechanisms to increase broadband access in unserved areas is in the best interest of the state. To that end, this act establishes a grant and loan program that will support the extension of broadband infrastructure to unserved areas. To ensure this program primarily serves the public interest, the legislature intends that any grant or loan provided to a private entity under this program must be conditioned on a guarantee that the asset or infrastructure to be developed will be maintained for public use for a period of at least fifteen years." [ 2019 c 365 § 1.]
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