Florida Senate - 2022 SB 1800 By Senator Boyd 21-01515C-22 20221800__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to broadband infrastructure; amending 3 s. 288.9961, F.S.; revising the duties of the Florida 4 Office of Broadband to include administering the 5 Broadband Pole Replacement Program; creating s. 6 288.9964, F.S.; providing legislative findings; 7 defining terms; establishing the Broadband Pole 8 Replacement Program within the office; providing 9 responsibilities of the office; providing eligibility 10 requirements for reimbursement under the program; 11 providing that reimbursements are subject to the 12 availability of certain funds; providing that certain 13 denied applicants may reapply in certain 14 circumstances; providing requirements for the program 15 application; requiring the office to provide certain 16 reimbursements within a certain period of time; 17 authorizing an applicant to request certain 18 information from a pole owner under certain 19 circumstances; requiring an applicant to meet certain 20 conditions; requiring the Secretary of Economic 21 Opportunity to apply for certain federal funding for 22 the program; requiring that the amount of state funds 23 allocated to the program be reduced by the amount of 24 certain federal funds provided to the program; 25 requiring the office to publish and continually update 26 certain information on its public website; requiring 27 an audit of the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund 28 within a certain period of time; requiring the office 29 to provide a report containing specified information 30 to the Governor and the Legislature within a specified 31 timeframe; providing that certain provisions do not 32 require or authorize rulemaking; providing an 33 appropriation; providing a contingent effective date. 34 35 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 36 37 Section 1. Paragraph (g) is added to subsection (4) of 38 section 288.9961, Florida Statutes, to read: 39 288.9961 Promotion of broadband adoption; Florida Office of 40 Broadband.— 41 (4) FLORIDA OFFICE OF BROADBAND.—The Florida Office of 42 Broadband is created within the Division of Community 43 Development in the department for the purpose of developing, 44 marketing, and promoting broadband Internet services in this 45 state. The office, in the performance of its duties, shall do 46 all of the following: 47 (g) Administer the Broadband Pole Replacement Program 48 established in s. 288.9964. 49 Section 2. Section 288.9964, Florida Statutes, is created 50 to read: 51 288.9964 Broadband Pole Replacement Program.— 52 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that a 53 broadband pole replacement program administered by the Florida 54 Office of Broadband is necessary to further the state’s goal of 55 expanding and accelerating access to broadband service in 56 unserved areas throughout this state. 57 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 58 (a) “Applicant” means a private business, including a 59 corporation, a limited liability company, a partnership, a 60 nonprofit corporation, or any other private business entity that 61 provides or will provide qualifying broadband service in this 62 state. 63 (b) “Application” means an application made under this 64 section for an eligible pole replacement reimbursement. 65 (c) “Broadband Internet service” means a service that 66 offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for 67 transmission at a consistent speed of at least 25 megabits per 68 second downstream and 3 megabits per second upstream. 69 (d) “Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund” means the trust 70 fund established pursuant to s. 288.9965. 71 (e) “Eligible pole replacement” means the removal of an 72 existing utility pole and its replacement with a new utility 73 pole in an unserved area in order to accommodate the attachment 74 to such new utility pole of facilities used in whole or in part 75 by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service for the 76 purpose of providing qualifying broadband service access to 77 residences or businesses in that unserved area. The term does 78 not include the removal and replacement of an existing utility 79 pole by the owner or an affiliated company unless the removal or 80 replacement is performed as an accommodation to a provider of 81 qualifying broadband services. 82 (f) “Eligible pole replacement costs” means the actual 83 costs to perform an eligible pole replacement which are paid by 84 an applicant, excluding any amount separately reimbursed through 85 another state or federal broadband grant program or by some 86 other governmental entity. The term includes the costs to remove 87 and dispose of the existing utility pole, to purchase and 88 install a replacement utility pole, and to transfer any existing 89 facilities to the replacement utility pole. 90 (g) “Office” means the Florida Office of Broadband. 91 (h) “Pole” means any pole used in whole or in part for wire 92 communications or electric distribution. 93 (i) “Pole owner” means any electric utility as defined in 94 s. 366.02(2), public utility as defined in s. 366.02(1), 95 communications services provider as defined in s. 366.02(5), 96 cable television operator, or local exchange carrier that owns 97 or controls a pole. 98 (j) “Program” means the Broadband Pole Replacement Program 99 established under this section. 100 (k) “Qualifying broadband service” means a fixed, 101 terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet service capable 102 of delivering Internet access at speeds of at least 100 megabits 103 per second both downstream and upstream with latency at a level 104 sufficient to allow real-time, interactive applications. 105 (l) “Reimbursed through another state or federal broadband 106 grant program” means, with respect to eligible pole replacement 107 costs, that an applicant paying such costs has received or is 108 entitled to receive reimbursement for such costs under the terms 109 of another state or federal broadband grant program for the 110 deployment of broadband facilities, whether through a specific 111 reimbursement for such costs or through support payments that 112 equal or exceed the person’s actual deployment costs, including 113 eligible pole replacement costs. The term does not include the 114 receipt of a state or federal grant that covers only a portion 115 of the applicant’s actual deployment costs, including eligible 116 pole replacement costs, if the applicant pays the eligible pole 117 replacement costs with its own funds. 118 (m) “Unserved area” means a location in which: 119 1. At the time of a request by a retail provider of 120 qualifying broadband service to attach facilities to a pole in 121 such location, fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband 122 Internet service is unavailable, according to the latest 123 available broadband deployment data from the Federal 124 Communications Commission, provided that no person other than 125 the applicant has committed to providing qualifying broadband 126 service in such area; or 127 2. An applicant is committed under the terms of a federal 128 or state grant to provide qualifying broadband service, provided 129 that the availability of such grant is limited to areas lacking 130 access to fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet 131 service. 132 (3) BROADBAND POLE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM.— 133 (a) The Broadband Pole Replacement Program is established 134 within the Florida Office of Broadband. The office shall 135 administer the program and is responsible for receiving and 136 reviewing applications and distributing reimbursements under the 137 program. 138 (b) Any applicant that pays eligible pole replacement costs 139 is eligible for reimbursement of such costs under the program 140 and may submit an application for reimbursement in accordance 141 with this section. 142 (c) Reimbursements provided under the program are subject 143 to the availability of funds in the Broadband Pole Replacement 144 Trust Fund. The office shall accept applications for 145 reimbursement until all funds in the Broadband Pole Replacement 146 Trust Fund are exhausted. 147 (d) An application pending when all funds in the Broadband 148 Pole Replacement Trust Fund are exhausted is deemed denied; 149 however, the applicant may reapply if sufficient funds are later 150 made available in the trust fund. 151 (e) Within 60 days after the first deposit of funds into 152 the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund, the office shall 153 publish an application form for reimbursement of eligible pole 154 replacement costs under the program. The application must 155 require the following: 156 1. Information sufficient to establish the number and cost 157 of eligible pole replacements that qualify for reimbursement 158 under the program. 159 2. Documentation sufficient to establish that the claimed 160 eligible pole replacements have been completed. 161 3. The total reimbursement amount requested and any state 162 or federal grant funding or accounting information required to 163 justify the amount requested. 164 4. A notarized statement from an officer or agent of the 165 applicant certifying that the contents of the application are 166 true and accurate and that such applicant will comply with the 167 requirements of this section as a condition of receiving 168 reimbursement under the program. 169 5. Receipts verifying the amount of eligible pole 170 replacement costs paid by the applicant. 171 (f) Within 60 days after receipt of a complete application 172 that establishes an applicant’s eligible pole replacement costs, 173 the office shall reimburse the applicant in an amount equal to: 174 1. Up to 50 percent of the total amount paid or $5,000, 175 whichever is less, by such applicant for eligible pole 176 replacement costs; and 177 2. Up to 100 percent of the documented actual and 178 reasonable administrative expenses paid by such applicant in 179 preparing and submitting the application, including any 180 administrative expenses charged by a pole owner pursuant to 181 paragraph (g). The amount reimbursed under this subparagraph may 182 not exceed 5 percent of eligible pole replacement costs set 183 forth in the application. 184 (g) If such information is not otherwise reasonably 185 available, an applicant may request that a pole owner performing 186 an eligible pole replacement provide the number and costs of the 187 pole replacements and receipts verifying the amount of eligible 188 pole replacement costs paid by the applicant. A pole owner 189 providing such information and documentation may require 190 reimbursement from the applicant of its administrative expenses, 191 which may not exceed 5 percent of the eligible pole replacement 192 costs. 193 (h) As a condition of receiving reimbursement under the 194 program, an applicant must: 195 1. Certify its compliance with the requirements of this 196 section; and 197 2. Agree to refund with interest at the applicable Federal 198 Funds rate as specified by s. 670.506 any reimbursements or 199 portions thereof received under the program to the Broadband 200 Pole Replacement Trust Fund or the General Revenue Fund, at the 201 direction of the office, if the office finds, upon substantial 202 evidence and after providing such applicant with notice and an 203 opportunity to respond, that such applicant materially violated 204 a requirement of this section with respect to such 205 reimbursements or portions thereof. 206 (i) If applicable, an applicant that is a pole owner that 207 calculates its pole rental and other fees on the basis of a 208 formula required or approved by federal or state law or 209 regulation which includes consideration of the pole owner’s 210 expenses, must, as a condition of receiving reimbursement under 211 the program, exclude from such expenses any eligible pole 212 replacement costs that were reimbursed by the program, paid for 213 by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service, or funded 214 by another state or federal grant. 215 (4) PROGRAM FUNDING.— 216 (a) The Secretary of Economic Opportunity shall apply for 217 $100 million in federal funding for the program, including funds 218 available under the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, pursuant 219 to the authorization set forth in s. 9901 of the American Rescue 220 Plan Act of 2021 and codified at s. 604, Title VI of the Social 221 Security Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 801, et seq. Any such funds received 222 must be deposited into the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust 223 Fund. 224 (b) The amount of state funds allocated to the program must 225 be reduced by the amount of federal funds provided to the 226 program from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. 227 (5) TRANSPARENCY.—Within 60 days after the initial deposit 228 of funds into the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund, the 229 office shall publish, and thereafter continually update, the 230 following information on its public website: 231 (a) Statistics on the number of applications received, 232 processed, and rejected under the program. 233 (b) Statistics on the value, number, and status of 234 reimbursements provided under the program, including the names 235 of pole owners and retail providers of qualifying broadband 236 service which received reimbursements under the program. 237 (c) The amount of funds remaining in the Broadband Pole 238 Replacement Trust Fund. 239 (6) AUDIT.—Within 1 year after the initial deposit of funds 240 into the Broadband Pole Replacement Trust Fund, the Auditor 241 General shall audit the fund and its administration for 242 compliance with the requirements of this section and s. 243 288.9965. 244 (7) REPORT.—Within 1 year after all funds in the Broadband 245 Pole Replacement Trust Fund are exhausted, the office shall 246 provide a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, 247 and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which identifies 248 and examines the deployment of broadband infrastructure and 249 technology facilitated by reimbursements provided under the 250 program. 251 (8) RULEMAKING.—Rulemaking by the department, the office, 252 or any other agency is not required to administer and is not 253 authorized by this section. 254 Section 3. For the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the sum of $400 255 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated from the General 256 Revenue Fund, from payments received by the state pursuant to 257 the Federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund established 258 in 42 U.S.C. s. 802, to the Florida Office of Broadband within 259 the Department of Economic Opportunity for the purpose of 260 administering the Broadband Opportunity Program established in 261 s. 288.9962, Florida Statutes. 262 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, 263 if SB ___ or similar legislation is adopted in the same 264 legislative session or an extension thereof and becomes a law.