Ricketts signs broadband expansion bill

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 2:20 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday signed into law LB 388, a bill that provides $20 million in matching grants each year to expand broadband access to rural areas across the state. The measure had received unanimous support from the Legislature.

Currently, nearly 80,000 homes do not have adequate internet service, 6 News reports. The law will connect about 30,000 of those households to reliable broadband service in the next year. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, at Ricketts’ request, and prioritized by Speaker Mike Hilgers of Lincoln.

“This is an exciting day here in Nebraska,” Ricketts said. “The pandemic has highlighted the difference in working from home and remote education if you’re on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

Friesen said the economic impact will be big. He hopes the law will lure back to Nebraska residents who moved away. Hilgers said the measure is “a critical tool” that will “unlock Nebraska ingenuity, Nebraska grit, and Nebraska innovation” to keep residents from leaving in the first place.

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