Snyder welcomes Pa. Farm Bureau to fight for expanded broadband

Progress on four-bill package noted at Capitol news conference

HARRISBURG, April 17 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, and her partner in the push for expanded rural broadband, state Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, welcomed the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau to that fight at a Capitol news conference Tuesday.

“Representative Phillips-Hill and I welcome the added heft of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which is 62,000 farm member families strong, in our bipartisan effort to bring modern internet to all Pennsylvanians,” Snyder said. “Like us, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau supports the effort to improve and expand broadband access to underserved and unserved rural areas, which is critical to those residents’ ability to compete educationally and economically in the current information age.”

Snyder said the goal is bringing modern, high-speed internet to the 800,000 Pennsylvanians who currently lack it – including 520,000 who live in rural areas.

PFB President Rick Ebert, a full-time dairy farmer from Westmoreland County, spoke on behalf of the expanded internet effort mounted by Snyder and Phillips-Hill.

“Rural Pennsylvanians, including farmers and other business owners, are falling further behind those who live in more urban and suburban areas of the commonwealth,” Ebert said. “Many of our farm families can’t take advantage of online banking, tax software and other technology that would greatly benefit their businesses, simply because they lack adequate rural broadband or fiber-optic services. Our farmers are small-business owners and the technology they use for many facets of their businesses is run through high-speed internet.”

Snyder also gave an update on the four-part package of legislation promulgated by her and Phillips-Hill:

  • House Resolution 431, which would call for an audit by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale of the state’s Education Technology Fund, a six-year education technology program financed by non-rural telecommunications carriers, was approved by the House Education Committee.

  • House Resolution 429, which would establish a legislative task force on the delivery of high-speed broadband services, was approved by the House State Government Committee. This resolution also would direct the Joint State Government Commission to create an advisory committee to conduct a broadband availability study and report its findings back to the House of Representatives.

  • House Resolution 430, which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct an in-depth investigation and audit into the compliance of non-rural telecommunication carriers, and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature, is before the House Consumer Affairs Committee.

  • House Bill 1642, which would direct the Department of General Services to conduct an inventory of all state department, agency, commission or institution owned communication towers, poles, buildings, and facilities – to leverage existing state-owned assets for the provisioning of high-speed broadband internet to unserved and underserved areas – is before the House State Government Committee.  

Snyder and Phillips-Hill were joined at today’s news conference by state Rep. Martin Causer, R-Cameron/McKean/Potter, majority chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.