Matzie hails final passage of broadband expansion bill

Calls move ‘historic step’ for Pa.

HARRISBURG, Dec. 15 – State Rep. Rob Matzie lauded today’s final passage of legislation to expand reliable, high-speed broadband throughout the commonwealth, calling the move a “historic step” to close the digital divide in Pennsylvania.

Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said H.B. 2071 will establish the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority – charged with creating a broadband plan and distributing grants for broadband expansion projects – and bring critical connections to previously unserved or underserved areas.

“In a world where so many important services are offered online, the lack of reliable and affordable high-speed Internet isn’t just an inconvenience – it’s a major quality-of-life issue, and one that has plagued residents in certain communities for years,” said Matzie, who, as Democratic chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, helped guide the bill through the legislative process.

“Easy access to fast, reliable internet is a necessity of modern life. But as we know all too well, a large gap exists – what we call the digital divide.

“Today, we took an historic, bipartisan step to close that digital divide once and for all and ensure that all Pennsylvanians – regardless of where they live – have access to telemedicine, online shopping, remote learning, entertainment, and the multitude of other benefits those critical broadband connections bring.”

The final version of the bill – which now heads to the governor’s desk – includes Matzie’s amendments that permit nonprofits, local governments and small businesses to apply for grants, establish guidelines for low-income areas, and ensure that broadband will be expanded and accessible in areas where it is needed most.

Matzie helped lay the groundwork for the bill earlier this year, introducing legislation with state Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Beaver/Butler, and Sen. Patrick Browne, R-Lehigh, to put a reliable framework in place for broadband deployment.

That legislation – which increased access to 5G technology through deployment of small, wireless facilities that can be attached to existing utility poles – was signed into law as Act 50 of 2021 in July and became a model for other efforts throughout the country.