HB 5099 Seeks to Disallow Communities from Using Federal, State, or Local Funds to Improve Connectivity
Michigan Representative Hoitenga (R-Manton) introduces bill to curb local options for improving Internet access
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) introduced HB 5099, decreeing that local communities cannot invest federal, state, or even their own funds into the basics of Internet access infrastructure. Full coverage of the bill from MuniNetworks.org is here. Many communities in Michigan lack adequate Internet access for local businesses and residents to thrive in the modern digital economy.
Though many have tried to encourage more private-sector investment, some have found the best approach would be to invest in themselves, much as thousands of communities did 100 years ago to get the full benefits of electricity.
“Hoitenga’s bill would leave many communities without any hope of better Internet access, leaving their businesses less competitive, children disadvantaged, and property value declining,” says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. With a slight exception for public-private partnerships, the bill’s ambiguous language limits infrastructure investment that would be necessity to attract a partner to work with a community.
Michigan already has a significant barrier to local investment in place, forcing communities to appeal to the private sector and only moving forward themselves if they receive fewer than three qualified bids. However, several Michigan communities are already making a difference for their residents and improving the livelihood of their towns. We document them in detail here, explore our resoruces on Sebewaing, Holland, and Lyndon Township.
What HB 5099 is really about is the continuation of a war on broadband competition by CenturyLink, AT&T, and Charter Spectrum. Rep. Hoitenga is chair of the Communications and Technology Committee, so this bill is not likely to die the quick death it deserves.
If you’re interested in gaining perspective on this issue from Christopher Mitchell, please email back here or schedule an interview through Nick Stumo-Langer at 612-844-1330.
About Christopher Mitchell:
Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Mitchell leads the acclaimed MuniNetworks.org as part of ILSR’s effort to ensure broadband networks are directly accountable to the communities that depend upon them. He is a leading national expert on community networks, advising high-ranking broadband decision-makers and speaking on radio and television programs across the United States.
FOR MORE INFORMATION and to schedule an interview with Christopher, call Nick Stumo-Langer at 612-844-1330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.