The Ohio House passed HB 2 on Feb. 18, sponsored by Representatives Carfanga (R-Genoa Twp.) and Stewart (R-Ashville). The bill creates the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, allowing internet service providers to apply for grants that will help fund the infrastructure needed to provide faster internet access to underserved rural Ohio communities. HB 2 was amended to increase funding to $210 million and to add an emergency clause, putting it in effect immediately.
“Broadband is a necessity that much of rural Ohio does not have access to, which has hurt economic development, education, and public health in those areas,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “HB 2 is an important beginning step to address the funding needed for additional broadband infrastructure in rural Ohio. We certainly appreciate the dramatic increase in funding to connect all Ohioans to reliable high-speed internet which will allow our farmers to use more precision agriculture practices for water quality and sustainability and will give all of rural Ohio access to telehealth services.”