Senate Bill 2, a bill to allow Georgia’s Electric Membership Corporations to provide broadband service, passed the Senate today. In a press release, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan praises the Senate for passing SB 2 as a step forward in addressing rural broadband:
“Broadband access is critical to Georgia’s economic future,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “Allowing our EMCs to provide broadband services is a step towards ridding Georgia of our ‘digital dirt roads’ and propelling rural Georgia to greater economic success. We’re committed to delivering real solutions on this issue because it’s vitally important to Georgia families.”
SB 2 author Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) has been a driving force in addressing rural broadband access:
“I am proud to announce that all three parts of my broadband expansion legislation have officially passed in the Senate,” said Sen. Gooch. “Not only did we work tirelessly to specify language that satisfied several parties through the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, a lot of work went into this legislation outside of these meetings. During the interim, I was a member of a Senate study committee that met with agencies from across the board to ensure that we heard potential issues and ideas from all interested parties. After these meetings, we created legislation based on our findings, the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee’s input and spent hours debating and amending the legislation to come to an agreement. I am proud of the work that went into drafting, debating and passing this legislation and I look forward to the positive impact Senate Bills 2, 17 and 66 will bring to all Georgians.”
The Georgia Senate also passed SB 108. This bill, authored by Senator P.K. Martin (R- Lawrenceville), will incorporate computer science courses into middle and high school curricula. School systems will be able to phase in computer science programs and allows for “virtual proctoring” so as to not over-burden school systems with a requirement to hire teachers to teach the programs. The Lieutenant Governor talked about this bill being a step towards preparing Georgia students for 21st Century jobs:
“Georgia is already the Silicon Valley of the South,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “However, my goal is for our state to be recognized as the Technology Capital of the entire East Coast. I’m fully committed to that vision and this legislation is a step towards preparing our students to meet the demands of a 21st century economy.”
The Lieutenant Governor has publicly stated his intention to pursue additional funding for teacher development and virtual infrastructure upgrades in future state budgets. Both bills will make their way across to the Georgia House of Representatives.