DENVER – The second attempt to remedy the issue of broadband access in rural Colorado died Wednesday in a Senate committee.
Senate Bill 81, which would have changed definitions in previous legislation concerning the Broadband Deployment Fund in an attempt to move funds away from deployment of telephone lines and raise the bar on what is considered broadband connection in Colorado, was killed, 5-2, by the Senate Business, Technology and Labor Committee.
Republicans said they voted against the bill because of several issues, including the changed definitions.
Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, said his concern was the lack of time given to previous legislation to transfer funds. “I think we need to give an opportunity to have it work,” Neville said.
Sen. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, said the bill’s lack of an accurate fiscal note, which outlines the budgetary impact of a bill, dissuaded him from voting for the measure.
“It’s hard to be a yes vote without seeing what it’s going to cost,” Smallwood said.
Bill sponsor Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, said she requested additional time to draft a fiscal note for SB 81 after an amendment changed the means through which the bill would transfer funds, but was denied.
“I was surprised that they didn’t give more time for the fiscal note to be written because that’s normally a policy that you have a fiscal note on the bill that you’re hearing,” Donovan said.
According to the Legislature’s website, all bills require a fiscal note.
As the final vote was cast, Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, said if nothing else, the bill would bring the issue of broadband access in rural Colorado to the Legislature’s attention.
Donovan responded that the issue was mentioned in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State speech last month, so it had already been highlighted.
She expressed frustration that no progress had been made on rural broadband issues a third of the way through the session.
“We continue to talk about it and solutions that are presented continue to be shot down,” she said.