Digital Texas Coalition Honors State Leaders with Connecting All Texans Broadband Awards

Digital Texas Awards

Lindsay Munoz (Greater Houston Partnership), A.J. Rodriguez (Texas 2036), Rep. Four Price, and Ellen Ray (Texas Rural Funders)

Digital Texas, representing more than 40 philanthropic, non-profit, and advocacy organizations across the state, honored 20 state leaders and key legislative staff with awards for their work in passing House Bill 5, landmark legislation aimed at bridging the digital divide in Texas at a reception on July 28 in Austin.

Connecting All Texans Broadband Award recipients included:

Governor Greg Abbott Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Rep. Greg Bonnen
Speaker Dade Phelan Rep. Brad Buckley
Rep. Trent Ashby, bill author Rep. Terry Canales
Sen. Robert Nichols, bill author Rep. Ana Hernandez
Sen. Dawn Buckingham Rep. Christina Morales
Sen. Kelly Hancock Rep. Chris Paddie
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa Rep. Four Price
Sen. Jane Nelson Rep. Toni Rose
Sen. Charles Perry Mr. Judd Messer, Office of Rep. Trent Ashby
Sen. Royce West Mrs. Tina O’Jibway, Office of Sen. Robert Nichols

“These leaders played a pivotal role in the fast-tracking, development and passage of House Bill 5,” said Ellen Ray, Executive Director of the Still Water Foundation and Board President of Texas Rural Funders. “Texas will now have the capacity and support to develop and deploy a plan to improve broadband access and adoption across Texas, especially in rural and underserved communities. In a world increasingly reliant on connectivity, this is a game-changer.”

Broadband access was among Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency items for the legislature during the regular session. Bills supporting expansion of broadband, including House Bill 5, received broad-based, bipartisan support from lawmakers, as well as a wide range of advocates, philanthropists, and local community leaders, including Digital Texas.

“From small businesses to education, healthcare to transportation, farming to Fortune 500 and high tech, stakeholders across the Lone Star State have long recognized the importance of broadband and the need to improve access and adoption,” said A.J. Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Texas 2036. “We’re grateful to our award recipients and state lawmakers who are helping ensure the over 9 million Texans that do not have broadband access at home may soon finally be able to connect.”

As the past year has shown, broadband connectivity is critical to Texans’ everyday lives. The global pandemic spotlighted the importance of reliable broadband access, determining whether people could work from home, connect with family and friends, access health care, attend school, and take advantage of other essential services. But reliable broadband is not a given, especially in rural and underserved communities across Texas.

“Far too many Texans lack access to robust broadband infrastructure and connectivity information that is necessary to thrive in the digital era,” said Lindsay Munoz, Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy for the Greater Houston Partnership. “With the passage of House Bill 5, that’s about to change, and we will move closer to the digital equity Texans deserve, both in urban and rural communities across our state.”

“Our Digital Texas coalition stands ready to support the state in this critical endeavor. Its success matters to every Texan,” added Wynn Rosser, Ph.D, President and CEO of the TLL Temple Foundation and board member of Texas 2036 and Texas Rural Funders.