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Dem lawmakers applaud House passage of bill to expand broadband coverage to underserved Ohioans

Say internet access more crucial than ever during the global pandemic
February 18, 2021
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS— Ohio House Democrats today applauded the Ohio House passage of House Bill (HB) 2, a long-held Democratic priority that would create the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Program, specifically designed to bring broadband access to unserved residential households in both rural and urban areas of the state.

“Passing this long-held Democratic priority legislation to expand broadband access demonstrates that we can work together as a legislature to address the critical issues that impact Ohioans every day,” said Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “The pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities between those who have reliable internet access and those who do not. This legislation will ensure all Ohioans, no matter where they live, are connected to the resources they need to get ahead.” 

Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Warren) previously sponsored this same legislation as HB 13 in the 133rd General Assembly. 

“Ohio’s promise of better lives, better jobs and brighter futures begins with an infrastructure that’s built for the future, that levels the playing field and connects everyday Ohioans to the tools they need to live a better life,” said Rep. O’Brien. 

“During this pandemic, we’ve seen just how vital broadband access is in our everyday lives. Many of us take this technology for granted, yet so many Ohioans still lack access to these basic, essential services. House Bill 2 expands opportunity and does what good government is supposed to do—it sees a wrong and tries to right it.”

Ranking Member on the Ohio House Finance Committee Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) also voiced her approval for this legislation. 

“Pre-COVID, we already knew there were disparities between those who had access to broadband services and those who did not, and the pandemic has shed a glaring light on these disparities. This bill will help close the digital divide in Ohio,” said Rep. Crawley. “It will make an enormous difference in the lives of hardworking Ohioans since it impacts almost every single district represented in this General Assembly. HB 2 closes the digital divide by ensuring Ohio’s Promise that families comes first.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.