Grant program could bring internet access to rural communities

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Surfing the web, checking in on social media, or watching online videos – these are all things Kansas lawmakers want to make more readily accessible for the entire state of Kansas.

A bill has been proposed that would establish a grant program to help get broadband internet access to Kansas communities. Under the bill, cities and counties can apply for grant funding through the Department of Commerce. Communities would be selected based on need, population, cost and time the project would take.

The grant would match funding, up to 50%, of the total cost it would take to get broadband internet access to the area. It is unclear how much implementing broadband statewide would cost. Funding would come from a combination of taxpayer money, federal grants as well as state funds.

Representative Joe Seiwert, (R) Pretty Prairie, authored the bill and says there is still work to be done to figure out how much funding is needed and where that money will come from.

“We decided that we really needed to make sure that it wasn’t 100% of wasted taxpayer money,” explained Seiwert. “That someone is going to deploy broadband in that area they had some skin in the game and interest in providing it and that way they’re serious about doing it.”

The bill unanimously passed out of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications committee. It will now move on to the full House for debate and a possible vote.

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