LANSING, Mich., June 23, 2023 — The Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 4066 today. This bill would create the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office in the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. This office would be authorized to provide, upon appropriation, grants and other financial and technical assistance related to broadband and digital infrastructure.
“This is an issue that needs to be addressed now,” said state Rep. Kevin Coleman (D-Westland), sponsor of the bill. “We saw during the pandemic how a lack of the internet negatively impacted students and families. Kids weren’t able to properly attend school, nor were parents able to attend work because of a lack of internet. Increasing access to the internet will help students in schools, help adults in isolation, allow people to use telemedicine, and so much more. We must expand access to the internet now.”
As it currently stands, more than 212,000 households in our state lack access to a high-speed internet connection. An additional 865,000 households face barriers related to affordability, adoption or digital literacy. This means that approximately 31% of Michigan households do not have an affordable, reliable high-speed internet connection that meets their needs.
If this bill passes the Michigan Senate and is signed into law, the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office would be tasked with, but not limited to:
- Implementing modern broadband and digital infrastructure duties assigned to it and coordinate with other state departments responsible for matters concerning modern broadband and digital infrastructure.
- Facilitate collaboration among public and private entities to encourage partnerships, regional coordination, and streamlined policies to increase modern broadband and digital infrastructure.
- Identify best practices and external resources to support modern broadband and digital infrastructure in Michigan.
- Provide capacity building and digital literacy resources to the public and entities seeking to expand broadband service and adoption.
- Collect and analyze data to accurately determine the availability of broadband service, including developing methods that accurately identify parcel level wholesale and retail broadband infrastructure availability and adoption throughout the state.
- Issue reports on the status of broadband service market competition in different regions throughout the state that distinguish between the type and quality of broadband service provided and evaluate and provide recommendations on the wholesale and retail cost of broadband service.