Snyder, Phillips-Hill form Broadband Caucus in legislature

Members coalesce around goal of expanding high-speed internet

HARRISBURG, April 27 – As an adjunct to their push to expand rural broadband, state Reps. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, and Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, have formed and are soliciting members for the legislature’s Broadband Caucus.

Snyder said such caucuses are formed around a shared interest and attract members from both political parties, with the goal of promulgating and promoting a legislative agenda that furthers that interest.

“This is one way to bring Democrats and Republicans together to tackle the lack of modern, high-speed internet, which puts 800,000 Pennsylvanians – including 520,000 in rural areas – behind the eight ball when it comes to competing economically and academically,” Snyder said. “Representative Phillips-Hill and I have worked together in a bipartisan way on this very important issue. The Broadband Caucus is our attempt to bring more of our peers into the fold.”

Snyder said the lack of high-speed broadband in many parts of Pennsylvania poses multiple problems for communities and families:

  • Students cannot complete assignments at home.

  • People cannot take online classes.

  • Companies cannot locate themselves in these areas that otherwise could provide jobs.

  • Telemedicine cannot be utilized. 

  • The agriculture community cannot compete. 

“This is an issue that affects so many and creates challenges for all of Pennsylvania, which is why we are asking other legislators to join us in this effort,” Snyder said.

Snyder and Phillips-Hill already have a four-part package of legislation moving through the legislature:

  • House Resolution 431, which calls 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.

  • House Resolution 429, which would establish a legislative task force on the delivery of high-speed broadband services, and 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 directs 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

  • House Bill 1642, which directs 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 broad-band internet to unserved and underserved areas.