Governor Janet Mills has signed landmark legislation to establish the Maine Connectivity Authority, a new entity charged with achieving universal availability of high-speed broadband in Maine.
Using Federal funds allocated to the State of Maine under the American Rescue Plan, the Authority will work to ensure three goals: that effective, accessible connectivity be universally available in the state; that there be secure, affordable, reliable, competitive and sustainable forward-looking infrastructure that can meet future needs; and that all residents, businesses and institutions in Maine be able to take full advantage of the economic, health, educational, and other opportunities available through connectivity services.
The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford) and co-sponsored by Representative Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) and the other Co-Chairs of the Legislature’s Broadband Caucus, passed the Legislature unanimously. The Governor will nominate the Board and appoint a President to be confirmed by the Legislature. The Board will work with an advisory team to create the operating processes to execute universal, affordable high speed broadband access.
More information about the Maine Connectivity Authority can be found HERE.
The creation of the Authority is the next step forward in Governor Mills’ commitment to expanding access to affordable broadband in Maine, one of her top priorities. Last year, the Governor secured the approval of a $15 million bond proposal for broadband, the first new investment in internet expansion in more than a decade, and her Administration is also spearheading a broadband mapping initiative to facilitate the expansion of broadband into areas with inadequate service.
Last year, the Governor also dedicated $5.6 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds in partnership with private internet providers to build out permanent internet infrastructure to more than 730 students across rural Maine. The initiative built on the Mills Administration’s previous work to secure mobile hotspots and learning devices for nearly 24,000 students across Maine after schools suspended in-classroom instruction and adopted remote learning earlier this year.
Governor Mills has signed the following bills into law:
- LD 1676 An Act To Limit Access to Juvenile Case Records and Protect the Confidentiality of Juvenile History Record Information
- LD 1688 An Act To Improve Consistency in Terminology and within the Maine Human Rights Act
Governor Mills has vetoed the following bills:
- LD 125 An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture (PDF)
- LD 920 An Act To Promote Oversight of and Competitive Parity among Video Service Providers (PDF)
- LD 1134 An Act To Amend the Maine Bail Code Regarding Certain Conditions of Release (PDF)
- LD 1160 An Act To Reduce the Burden on Courts and Promote the Resolution of Civil Cases (PDF)
Veto messages from Governor Mills to the Legislature may be viewed by clicking on the corresponding bill links above.