CS for CS for SB 1800 First Engrossed (ntc) 20221800e1 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; requiring the 6 office to submit an annual report to the Governor and 7 the Legislature by a specified date; creating s. 8 288.9964, F.S.; providing legislative findings; 9 defining terms; establishing the Broadband Pole 10 Replacement Program within the office; providing 11 responsibilities of the office; providing eligibility 12 requirements for reimbursement under the program; 13 providing that reimbursements are subject to the 14 availability of certain funds; providing that certain 15 denied applicants may reapply in certain 16 circumstances; providing requirements for the program 17 application; requiring the office to provide certain 18 reimbursements within a certain period of time; 19 authorizing an applicant to request certain 20 information from a pole owner under certain 21 circumstances; requiring an applicant to meet certain 22 conditions; requiring the office to publish and 23 continually update certain information on its public 24 website; authorizing rulemaking; providing an 25 effective date. 26 27 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 28 29 Section 1. Paragraph (g) is added to subsection (4) and 30 subsection (6) is added to section 288.9961, Florida Statutes, 31 to read: 32 288.9961 Promotion of broadband adoption; Florida Office of 33 Broadband.— 34 (4) FLORIDA OFFICE OF BROADBAND.—The Florida Office of 35 Broadband is created within the Division of Community 36 Development in the department for the purpose of developing, 37 marketing, and promoting broadband Internet services in this 38 state. The office, in the performance of its duties, shall do 39 all of the following: 40 (g) Administer the Broadband Pole Replacement Program 41 established in s. 288.9964. 42 (6) REPORT.—Annually by January 31, the office shall 43 provide a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, 44 and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which provides 45 information on activities of the office to meet the requirements 46 of this section, including any applications made and use of 47 federal funds for broadband Internet service infrastructure, 48 deployment, or access. The report shall also include, if funds 49 have been appropriated to the programs, updates and information 50 on administration and applications processed under the Broadband 51 Opportunity Program established in s. 288.9962 and the Broadband 52 Pole Replacement Program established in s. 288.9964, including 53 identifying and examining the deployment of broadband 54 infrastructure and technology facilitated by reimbursements 55 provided under the Broadband Pole Replacement Program. 56 Section 2. Section 288.9964, Florida Statutes, is created 57 to read: 58 288.9964 Broadband Pole Replacement Program.— 59 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that a 60 broadband pole replacement program administered by the Florida 61 Office of Broadband is necessary to further the state’s goal of 62 expanding and accelerating access to broadband service in 63 unserved areas throughout this state. 64 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 65 (a) “Applicant” means a private business, including a 66 corporation, a limited liability company, a partnership, a 67 nonprofit corporation, or any other private business entity that 68 provides or will provide qualifying broadband service in this 69 state. 70 (b) “Application” means an application made under this 71 section for an eligible pole replacement reimbursement. 72 (c) “Broadband Internet service” means a service that 73 offers a connection to the Internet with a capacity for 74 transmission at a consistent speed of at least 25 megabits per 75 second downstream and 3 megabits per second upstream. 76 (d) “Eligible pole replacement” means the removal of an 77 existing utility pole and its replacement with a new utility 78 pole in an unserved area in order to accommodate the attachment 79 to such new utility pole of facilities used in whole or in part 80 by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service for the 81 purpose of providing qualifying broadband service access to 82 residences or businesses in that unserved area. The term does 83 not include the removal and replacement of an existing utility 84 pole by the pole owner or an affiliated company unless the 85 removal or replacement is performed as an accommodation to a 86 provider of qualifying broadband service. 87 (e) “Eligible pole replacement costs” means the actual 88 costs to perform an eligible pole replacement which are paid by 89 an applicant, excluding any amount separately reimbursed through 90 another state or federal broadband grant program or by some 91 other governmental entity. The term includes the costs to remove 92 and dispose of the existing utility pole, to purchase and 93 install a replacement utility pole, and to transfer any existing 94 facilities to the replacement utility pole. 95 (f) “Office” means the Florida Office of Broadband. 96 (g) “Pole” means any pole used in whole or in part for wire 97 communications or electric distribution. 98 (h) “Pole owner” means any electric utility as defined in 99 s. 366.02(2), public utility as defined in s. 366.02(1), 100 communications services provider as defined in s. 366.02(5), 101 cable television operator, or local exchange carrier that owns 102 or controls a pole. 103 (i) “Program” means the Broadband Pole Replacement Program 104 established under this section. 105 (j) “Qualifying broadband service” means a fixed, 106 terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet service capable 107 of delivering Internet access at speeds of at least 100 megabits 108 per second both downstream and upstream with latency at a level 109 sufficient to allow real-time, interactive applications. 110 (k) “Reimbursed through another state or federal broadband 111 grant program” means, with respect to eligible pole replacement 112 costs, that an applicant paying such costs has received or is 113 entitled to receive reimbursement for such costs under the terms 114 of another state or federal broadband grant program for the 115 deployment of broadband facilities, whether through a specific 116 reimbursement for such costs or through support payments that 117 equal or exceed the person’s actual deployment costs, including 118 eligible pole replacement costs. The term does not include the 119 receipt of a state or federal grant that covers only a portion 120 of the applicant’s actual deployment costs, including eligible 121 pole replacement costs, if the applicant pays the eligible pole 122 replacement costs with its own funds. 123 (l) “Unserved area” means a location in which: 124 1. At the time of a request by a retail provider of 125 qualifying broadband service to attach facilities to a pole in 126 such location, fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband 127 Internet service is unavailable, according to the latest 128 available broadband deployment data from the Federal 129 Communications Commission, provided that no person other than 130 the applicant has committed to providing qualifying broadband 131 service in such area; or 132 2. An applicant is committed under the terms of a federal 133 or state grant to provide qualifying broadband service, provided 134 that the availability of such grant is limited to areas lacking 135 access to fixed, terrestrial, retail wireline broadband Internet 136 service. 137 (3) BROADBAND POLE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM.— 138 (a) The Broadband Pole Replacement Program is established 139 within the Florida Office of Broadband. The office shall 140 administer the program and is responsible for receiving and 141 reviewing applications and distributing reimbursements under the 142 program. 143 (b) Any applicant that pays eligible pole replacement costs 144 after July 1, 2022, is eligible for reimbursement of such costs 145 under the program and may submit an application for 146 reimbursement in accordance with this section. 147 (c) Reimbursements provided under the program are subject 148 to the availability of funds. The office shall accept 149 applications for reimbursement until all funds appropriated to 150 the program are exhausted. Reimbursements shall be made on a 151 first-come, first-served basis. The office shall publish on its 152 website information regarding the availability of funds and the 153 date when applications may begin to be submitted. 154 (d) An application pending when all funds are exhausted is 155 deemed denied; however, the applicant may reapply if sufficient 156 funds are later made available. 157 (e) By September 1, 2022, the office shall publish an 158 application form for reimbursement of eligible pole replacement 159 costs under the program. The application must require the 160 following: 161 1. Information sufficient to establish the number and cost 162 of eligible pole replacements that qualify for reimbursement 163 under the program. 164 2. Documentation sufficient to establish that the claimed 165 eligible pole replacements have been completed. 166 3. The total reimbursement amount requested and any state 167 or federal grant funding or accounting information required to 168 justify the amount requested. 169 4. A notarized statement from an officer or agent of the 170 applicant certifying that the contents of the application are 171 true and accurate and that such applicant will comply with the 172 requirements of this section as a condition of receiving 173 reimbursement under the program. 174 5. Receipts verifying the amount of eligible pole 175 replacement costs paid by the applicant. 176 6. Any other information or documentation required by the 177 department to comply with the requirements or conditions, as 178 applicable, of any federal funding used to pay reimbursements 179 under the program. 180 (f) Within 60 days after receipt of a complete application 181 that establishes an applicant’s eligible pole replacement costs, 182 the office shall reimburse the applicant in an amount equal to 183 up to 50 percent of the total amount paid or $5,000, whichever 184 is less, by such applicant for eligible pole replacement costs. 185 (g) Reimbursements made under this program from funds 186 appropriated from any federal funding received by this state 187 must also be made in compliance with any requirements or 188 conditions for use of such federal funds. 189 (h) If the information required for application is not 190 otherwise reasonably available to an applicant, an applicant may 191 request that a pole owner performing an eligible pole 192 replacement provide the number and costs of the pole 193 replacements and receipts verifying the amount of eligible pole 194 replacement costs paid by the applicant. 195 (i) As a condition of receiving reimbursement under the 196 program, an applicant must: 197 1. Certify its compliance with the requirements of this 198 section and with any federal conditions or requirements for use 199 of federal funds as applicable; and 200 2. Agree to refund with interest at the applicable Federal 201 Funds rate as specified by s. 670.506 any reimbursements or 202 portions thereof received under the program to the department, 203 at the direction of the office, if the office finds, upon 204 substantial evidence and after providing such applicant with 205 notice and an opportunity to respond, that such applicant 206 materially violated a requirement of this section with respect 207 to such reimbursements or portions thereof. Any funds received 208 by the office under this subparagraph shall be deposited into 209 the fund from which the appropriation was made. 210 (j) If applicable, an applicant that is a pole owner that 211 calculates its pole rental and other fees on the basis of a 212 formula required or approved by federal or state law or 213 regulation which includes consideration of the pole owner’s 214 expenses must, as a condition of receiving reimbursement under 215 the program, exclude from such expenses any eligible pole 216 replacement costs that were reimbursed by the program, paid for 217 by a retail provider of qualifying broadband service, or funded 218 by another state or federal grant. 219 (4) TRANSPARENCY.—The office shall publish and continually 220 update the following information on its website: 221 (a) Statistics on the number of applications received, 222 processed, and denied under the program. 223 (b) Statistics on the value, number, and status of 224 reimbursements provided under the program, including the names 225 of pole owners and retail providers of qualifying broadband 226 service which received reimbursements under the program. 227 (c) The amount of funds remaining from any appropriation. 228 (5) RULEMAKING.—The department is authorized to adopt rules 229 to establish the application and the conditions or requirements 230 that must be met in order to use and receive any federal funding 231 appropriated to the program. 232 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022.