BILL REQ. #:  H-1214.1 


State of Washington61st Legislature2009 Regular Session

By Representatives Hudgins and McCoy

Read first time 01/27/09.   Referred to Committee on Technology, Energy & Communications.

     AN ACT Relating to broadband adoption and deployment; adding a new section to chapter 82.04 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 82.29A RCW; and adding a new chapter to Title 43 RCW.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   With regard to high-speed internet services and technology advancement, the legislature finds the following:
     (1) The deployment and adoption of high-speed internet services and technology advancements enhances economic development and public safety for the state's communities, while offering improved health care, increased educational opportunities, and a better quality of life for the state's residents.
     (2) Improvements in the deployment and adoption of high-speed internet services and the strategic inclusion of technology advancements is critical to ensuring that Washington remains competitive and continues to attract businesses and stimulate job growth.
     (3) The state must encourage and support strategic partnerships of public, private, nonprofit, and community-based sectors in the continued growth and development of high-speed internet services and information technology for state residents and businesses.
     (4) In light of the importance of broadband deployment to the economy, health, safety, and welfare of the people of Washington, it is essential the legislature create a council capable of developing statewide broadband strategies.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2   The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
     (1) "Authority" means the broadband adoption and deployment authority created in section 3 of this act.
     (2) "Community technology programs" means programs that are engaged in diffusing information and communications technology in local communities, particularly in underserved areas. These programs may include, but are not limited to, programs that provide education and skill-building opportunities, hardware and software, internet connectivity, and development of locally relevant content and delivery of vital services through technology. Community technology programs are usually provided by nonprofit or public agencies in public community settings. These include youth and community centers, small business and workforce training centers, mutual assistance associations and settlement houses, low-income housing, libraries, or schools opened for community programs.
     (3) "Council" means the council on digital inclusion created in section 7 of this act.
     (4) "Underserved areas" means areas in which the broadband speeds are less than five million bits per second down and one million bits per second up.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3   The broadband adoption and deployment authority is created. The authority has the following powers and duties:
     (1) To implement federally funded and mandated broadband adoption and deployment programs;
     (2) To develop geographic information system maps and inventories of public and private high-speed internet infrastructure;
     (3) To address management of proprietary and competitively sensitive data related to telecommunications mapping;
     (4) To track residential and business adoption of high-speed internet, computers, and related information technology;
     (5) To identify barriers to the adoption of broadband service and related information technology services by individuals and businesses, including whether or not the demand for these services is absent and whether the supply for these services is capable of meeting the demand;
     (6) To monitor and track prices and service quality to ensure comparable and affordable broadband and information services are provided throughout all regions of the state;
     (7) To create, implement, and administer programs to improve computer ownership, technology literacy, and high-speed internet access for populations not currently served in the state including a program similar to the Washington telephone assistive program that provides low-income families with significantly reduced cost internet access. This program should also provide low-cost internet access to nonprofit entities as suggested in the K-20 program;
     (8) To administer community technology opportunities programs;
     (9) To create additional programs to spur the development of high-speed internet resources in the state, which may include, but is not limited to:
     (a) Soliciting funding in the form of grants or donations;
     (b) Establishing technology literacy and digital inclusion programs and establishing low-cost hardware and software purchasing programs;
     (c) Developing loan programs targeting small businesses or businesses located in underserved areas; and
     (d) Including community technology organizations in state hardware and software purchasing programs;
     (10) To establish a matching grant program to encourage private and public telecommunications deployment in unserved areas. This includes those areas that currently have broadband access but do not meet the federal communications commission's definition of high-speed internet;
     (11) To study the feasibility of creating a state universal service fund to provide ongoing funding for broadband adoption and deployment.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4   The digital inclusion account is created in the custody of the state treasurer. All receipts from sections 5 and 6 of this act and gifts, grants, or appropriations made to the account must be deposited into the account. Expenditures from the account may be used only for the purposes of this chapter. Only the director of the authority or the director's designee may authorize expenditures from the account. The account is subject to allotment procedures under chapter 43.88 RCW, but an appropriation is not required for expenditures.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5   A new section is added to chapter 82.04 RCW to read as follows:
     (1) For purposes of this section, "telecommunications company" has the same meaning as defined in RCW 80.04.010.
     (2) A telecommunications company shall be allowed a credit against taxes due under this chapter in an amount equal to fifty percent of contributions made in any fiscal year directly to the digital inclusion account created in section 4 of this act. The credit shall be taken in a form and manner as required by the department. The telecommunications company must make the contribution before claiming a credit authorized under this section. The credit under this section shall not exceed two hundred thousand dollars per fiscal year per telecommunications company. The credit may not exceed the tax that would otherwise be due under this chapter. Refunds shall not be granted in the place of credits.
     (3) Except as provided under subsection (4) of this section, a tax credit claimed under this section may not be carried over to another year.
     (4) Any amount of tax credit otherwise allowable under this section not claimed by a telecommunications company in any calendar year may be carried over and claimed against the tax liability for the next succeeding calendar year. Any credit remaining unused in the next succeeding calendar year may be carried forward and claimed against the tax liability for the second succeeding calendar year; and any credit not used in that second succeeding calendar year may be carried over and claimed against the tax liability for the third succeeding calendar year, but may not be carried over for any calendar year thereafter.
(5) Credits are available on a first in-time basis. The department shall disallow any credits, or portion thereof, that would cause the total amount of credits claimed under this section during any calendar year to exceed five hundred thousand dollars. The department shall provide written notice to any telecommunications company who has claimed tax credits in excess of the five hundred thousand dollar limitation in this subsection. The notice shall indicate the amount of tax due and shall provide that the tax be paid within thirty days from the date of such notice. The department shall not assess penalties and interest as provided in chapter 82.32 RCW on the amount due in the initial notice if the amount due is paid by the due date specified in the notice, or any extension thereof.
(6) To claim a credit under this section, a telecommunications company must electronically file with the department all returns, forms, and any other information required by the department, in an electronic format as provided or approved by the department. Any return, form, or information required to be filed in an electronic format under this section is not filed until received by the department in an electronic format. As used in this subsection, "returns" has the same meaning as "return" in RCW 82.32.050.
     (7) No application is necessary for the tax credit. The person must keep records necessary for the department to verify eligibility under this section.
     (8) The department shall not allow any credit under this section before July 1, 2009.
     (9) The right to earn tax credits under this section expires June 30, 2018.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6   A new section is added to chapter 82.29A RCW to read as follows:
     Taxes collected under RCW 82.29A.030 from a telecommunications company, as defined in RCW 80.04.010, as a result of the company's leasehold interest in publicly owned property shall be deposited in the digital inclusion account created in section 4 of this act.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7   (1) The council on digital inclusion is created. The council must include representatives from community technology organizations, telecommunication providers, higher education, K-12 education, public health, public housing, and government entities that are engaged in community technology activities.
     (2) The council's duties include all of the following:
     (a) Undertake a thorough review of grant programs available through the federal government, local agencies, telecommunications providers, and business and charitable entities for the purposes of identifying appropriate sources of revenues for the digital inclusion account created in section 4 of this act and attempting to update available grants on a regular basis.
     (b) Explore using state buying power to negotiate bulk buys from technology suppliers and thus getting a discount on purchases and making technology more affordable.
     (c) Analyze how support from public and private sector partnerships, the philanthropic community, and other not-for-profit organizations in the community, along with strong relationships with the state board of education and higher education institutions, builds a sustainable infrastructure that provides a variety of access alternatives for citizens.
     (d) Plan for long-term sustainability. Digital inclusion initiatives must be seen as long-term components of a community's offerings to its citizens and an ever-present vehicle to help the state meet a variety of economic, health care, environmental, and educational goals. Long-term sustainability is a critical factor to ensure prolonged access to economic opportunity in our digital economy. For the state, it is an opportunity and challenge that will influence economics, policy, and politics.
     (e) Research and catalog programs designed to advance digital literacy and computer access that are available through the federal government, local agencies, telecommunications providers, and business and charitable entities and attempt to update available programs on a regular basis.
     (f) Present the information compiled under this section to the authority, which is the single point of contact for applying for funding from the digital inclusion account and for distributing information to the public regarding all programs designed to advance digital literacy and computer access.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 8   Nothing in this chapter may be construed to limit the ability of any municipality, county, or other unit of local government to:
     (1) Undertake local broadband projects and the provision of services in connection therewith;
     (2) Lease infrastructure that it owns or controls;
     (3) Aggregate customers or demand for broadband services; or
     (4) Apply for and receive funds or technical assistance to undertake projects to address the level of broadband access available to its businesses and residents or any similar broadband deployment project.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 9   Sections 1 through 4, 7, and 8 of this act constitute a new chapter in Title 43 RCW.

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