On behalf of its 1.8 million members, AARP Pennsylvania commends Governor Tom Wolf for signing House Bill (H.B.) 2071, which creates the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority to oversee the state’s strategy to manage the federal funding that will guide the development and expansion of broadband services.
AARP Pennsylvania also commends House sponsor Representative Martin Causer (R-67) for his leadership in introducing H.B. 2071, along with House Consumer Affairs Committee Chairpersons, Representatives Jim Marshall (R-14) and Robert Matzie (D-16), and Senate Communications and Technology Committee Chairpersons, Senators Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) and John Kane (D-9), for their efforts in shepherding this bi-partisan legislation through the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP Pennsylvania State Director, praised the enactment of H.B. 2071 – now known as Act 96 of 2021 – which is in line with AARP’s push to increase broadband access across the Keystone State. “The personal and health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have sharpened the focus of this critical need,” said Johnston-Walsh. “The pandemic proved that people of all ages count on high-speed internet. Students need it to attend school and complete assignments, and older adults need it to access medical care in the safety of their homes through telehealth while staying socially connected to family and friends.”
The federal funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden. Pennsylvania stands to gain more than $100 million to improve broadband access, an investment that represents an important step forward in ensuring equitable access to reliable high-speed internet service particularly for people in areas that were previously unserved or underserved. AARP successfully advocated for the passage of the IIJA to help ensure all Americans can enjoy affordable, reliable access to broadband regardless of where they live.
“Access to broadband is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. It’s how we do business, connect with our friends and loved ones, and receive our health care,” said Johnston-Walsh. “By having this important legislation signed into law, our state is moving toward the widespread adoption of technology to help all Pennsylvanians live healthier, longer and happier lives.”