By Sen. Kent Williams
While serving on the Senate Finance Committee I voted to approve the expenditure of $1.2 billion dollars of federal Coronavirus Relief money. I am proud that our plan includes funding to expand internet broadband in South Carolina. Under the Senate Finance plan, we also allocate funds to K-12 education, restore the unemployment trust fund, and purchase PPE for a statewide stockpile. We decided to hold $668 million in reserve to address needs from a potential second wave of COVID-19.
I know that I do not have to stress how much COVID-19 has re-shaped our everyday lives. Much of our daily lives have moved online. However, far too many South Carolinians do not have broadband access. Without broadband access, our citizens do not have access to things like telehealth, online learning, job opportunities, and more.
That is why through this legislation we task the Office of Regulatory with securing a vendor for the development of a broadband statewide county-by-county mapping plan and a statewide broadband infrastructure plan. The infrastructure plan will identify and prioritize communities in the state where access to broadband has impeded the delivery of distance learning, telework, and telehealth. The plan must also identify the role that public and private broadband operators can play in addressing the state’s broadband plans.
We also provide for mobile hotspots and monthly service through December 2020 for distribution to a minimum of one hundred thousand households. This will be limited to households with an annual income of two hundred fifty percent or less of federal poverty guidelines that also has an individual attending a public or private K-12 school or a public or private college, university or technical college. I cannot stress how important affordable broadband access to the future of our state. The steps that we are taking are just the beginning. This has to continue to be a top priority for our state.
As with all matters concerning state government, I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues. Please contact me in my Columbia office located at 608 Gressette Office Building. You can reach me, or a member of my staff in Columbia at (803) 212-6000 or by fax at (803) 212-6011.
My district office is located at 2523 East Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571, the phone number is (843) 423-8237 and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at [email protected] My business phone is (843) 423-3904. Please use this information to write, call or e-mail me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.
By Sen. Kent Williams