Oklahoma City – Governor Kevin Stitt has signed into law House Bill 3363, a measure to ensure that high-speed Internet access will reach 95% of Oklahomans by 2027.
In a statement sent to The Oklahoma City Sentinel and other news outlets, Stitt said, “Today is a great day for all my friends in rural Oklahoma.”
The Chief Executive, in the statement announcing his signature, said: “Digital transformation has been a priority of mine since the day I took office, and I’m so proud to deliver a broad-based infrastructure tape extended to every corner of Oklahoma. High-speed internet access is critical to making Oklahoma a Top Ten state and will have a generational impact.
The news takes effect immediately. It creates a federally funded Oklahoma Broadband Office. U.S. government dollars “will decrease when the project is completed,” Stitt’s statement said.
House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Senate Pro Tempore Speaker Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, were the legislative co-sponsors of the measure. Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds, led the measurement across the lower house.
Governor Stitt said he is assigning Chief Operating Officer and Assistant Secretary for Digital Transformation Steven Harpe to oversee the expansion effort.
The Governor’s video regarding the new law can be viewed here:
In a February House press release, Speaker McCall said, “Broadband is a shared legislative and executive priority. He accurately predicted that the measure would enjoy strong bipartisan support.
The measure garnered 85-0 support in the House, with 15 members excused. In the Senate, the vote was 43-0, with five members excused.
Rep. Phillips said that at the start of the House review, a pathway would be created to “build Oklahoma’s sustainable broadband infrastructure for generations to come. Creating a broadband office is a practice national model used by more than 30 other states and recommended by the Oklahoma Rural Broadband Expansion Council. It is the logical continuation of the efforts on which we have been working for three years.”
The new legislation is the cornerstone of a three-year process involving more than a dozen separate laws.
In an analysis for the Oklahoma Policy Institute last month, Professor Brian Whitacre, director of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, said: “Oklahoma has fallen behind in establishing a administrative infrastructure to increase broadband access. Fortunately, US federal Rescue Plan Act funding can be directed to this key infrastructure. Oklahoma has already set aside $2 million to create a broadband map that will highlight areas where broadband is not available at various speed thresholds The map will include geocoded data for households, agricultural and commercial structures, and The state will work with local providers and third-party speed tests to ensuring the map captures real-time, “in the field” broadband availability.
Professor Whitacre wrote that HB 3363 was “the second piece of critical infrastructure needed” to achieve the five-year goal of access for the vast majority of Oklahomans.