$5 billion proposed for broadband expansion efforts

State Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, filed legislation this afternoon that would ask voters in November to approve the creation of a constitutionally dedicated fund for efforts to improve access to broadband service across the state.

HJR 125 would amend the Texas Constitution to create a Broadband Infrastructure Fund. Its companion bill, HB 9, would appropriate $5 billion to the fund.

Also significant is that Ashby’s legislation received a coveted low bill number, indicating it is a priority for Speaker Dade Phelan.

The fund seeks to advance the goal of expanding access to broadband service, especially on efforts in underserved areas. The funds could be used toward the following objectives, among others:

  • Provide matching funds for the deployment of Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program funds
  • Administer the state’s Broadband Development Program
  • Create and update the state’s broadband development map
  • Develop and update the state broadband plan
  • Community outreach regarding broadband accessibility in the state
  • Fully fund the state’s universal service fund obligation
  • Improve public safety telecommunications connectivity

To learn more about HB 9, you can read the text of the bill here.

If lawmakers pass HJR 125, it would go before Texas voters in the November constitutional election.