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HB 2423 would establish a new "broadband office" within the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and authorize the PUC to hire employees to carry out the duties of the office. (The Legislative Budget Board mentions in the fiscal note that five new full time equivalent employees would be needed for this purpose.)
The broadband office would facilitate and coordinate efforts of state agencies, schools, hospitals, and local governments to develop proposals for broadband service investment and deployment strategies in unserved areas in rural communities, promote and coordinate public sector and private sector broadband service solutions, etc.
The bill would create a grant program and requisite framework for the program to provide grants to applicants for the expansion of access to broadband service in areas that are unserved.
Texas Action opposes HB 2423 for violating our principles limited government and the free market. This bill would enact undue government interference in the free market and at the expense of taxpayers. This would grow the size, cost, and scope of government to perform a role that is not a core or proper function of government. While broadband access in rural areas is a desirable thing, it is not the proper role of government to provide for this.