12-09-2016  9:01 pm      •     

Rep. Zack Hudgins (D – Tukwila) wants his fellow lawmakers in the state Legislature to get behind a package of bills that build on his past work that accelerates the groundwork for reaching every corner of the state with broadband Internet connections. 
"You want to talk about economic stimulus; Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the country," he said in a statement. "Without access to quick, reliable Internet service, students will miss opportunities to explore the world beyond their textbooks, and small businesses will continue to struggle to move their products anywhere but locally."
Hudgins' broadband-access package includes four bills:
HB 1698 Creating a state broadband adoption and deployment authority. 
HB 1699 Implementing a high-speed Internet deployment and adoption strategy for the state. 
HB 1700 Conducting an inventory of publicly owned high-speed Internet infrastructure. 
HB 1701 Authorizing the department of information services to engage in high-speed Internet activities. 
"We're facing tough economic times," Hudgins says. "While we await the Obama administration's economic stimulus package to cushion the blow for workers and businesses, anything we can do to foster small businesses and create jobs in the meantime will be a big help."
Hudgins says broadband access doesn't fall along traditional urban-rural divides. "I represent the 11th Legislative District, arguably the state's most urban, most industrialized area," he says. "Within its borders there are hundreds of languages spoken and many new citizens to the U.S. struggling to reach the 'American Dream' in their own right.
"Yet even in this highly urbanized area, there are virtual deserts when it comes to Internet connectivity," he says. "The inner-city student studying at the Louvre online, and the apple grower in Wenatchee selling his produce to Singapore both deserve the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else in our state."
Hudgins' package of bills received a public hearing in the House Committee on Technology and Energy & Communications Wednesday.  He says he plans to work with stakeholders to reach consensus before a full vote of the House.
Hudgins says he's pushing to get this strategy in place sooner rather than later, as Congress is poised to pass a federal stimulus package that includes a massive influx of $9 billion for a national Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, expanding service and computer center capacity.

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