LYONS - The Nebraska Legislature unanimously passed and Governor Pete Ricketts has signed off on LB 996, which creates the Broadband Data Improvement Program which will help the state access grant programs.
Johnathan Hladik, Policy Director with the Center for Rural Affairs says the bill also directs the state Public Service Commission to establish a process to collect public input to verify the accuracy of broadband availability.
Hladik says lack of rural broadband became more important when people realized students living in rural areas couldn’t participate in classes remotely.
"If you don't have internet you're falling way behind and we saw that at the end of the last school year and we're afraid we might see that again. For a lot of people, they're realizing that kids who go to rural schools deserve equal opportunity and a chance to learn, but without internet they can't do that. So this is a serious quality of life issue."
Hladik says broadband access has become an economic development issue too as people who want to live in rural areas are moving to other states that have rural broadband availability.
He says this bill is a step in the right direction.