In hearing from a range of Montana telecommunications companies at a Jan. 15 meeting, the Economic Affairs Interim Committee (EAIC) learned that federal money alone will not deliver access across the state, although it helps.
The EAIC requested a letter supportive of broadband expansion in Montana, which the committee will review at its Feb. 12-13 meeting. The plan is to make a generic letter of support available for companies seeking federal grants to expand broadband access.
Recognizing the need for incentives, the committee also heard from a representative of the National Conference of State Legislatures regarding incentives used in other states to expand both broadband access and affordability. And emphasizing the notion that communications tools keep changing and improving, a technology expert at CableLabs referenced exponential leaps in communication speeds that are available in more and more areas, if not generally available in Montana. The committee also heard background information related to SB 239 in the 2019 session, which the committee will review in more depth at its Feb. 12-13 meeting.
In other business, the committee:
- voted to request that the Department of Labor and Industry delay adoption until the committee's Feb. 12-13 meeting of a proposed rule defining prosthetics covered under workers' compensation claims. The committee also asked that a department spokesperson be at the meeting to explain the reasons for the proposed rule and provide comments received within the comment period (prior to Feb. 1).
- learned that the Department of Revenue had withdrawn a proposed rule on alcohol licensee penalties about which the committee had some concerns.
- took no further action on a Board of Dentistry rule to which the committee had filed objections. A revised rule regarding dental implants was reported as a compromise between dentists and denturists.
For materials presented at the meeting or to listen to the audio minutes of the meeting, visit the committee website. For questions, contact committee staff.
The Legislative News.