New law championed by Sen. Lawrence to expand reliable, high-speed internet takes effect this month

Posted: August 26, 2022 | Senator Lawrence

AUGUSTA — A new law co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-Eliot, which supports municipal broadband programs took effect Monday, Aug. 8. The new law will help smaller and more rural municipalities have access to the resources they need to get connected to high-speed broadband networks.

“As chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, I understand that in the day and age that we live in, the importance of high-speed, reliable internet access cannot and should not be understated,” said Sen. Lawrence. “However, as we continue to march into the future, we can’t leave behind our more rural towns, which have a greater difficulty accessing broadband services. By giving resources to local municipalities to pursue broadband networks, we are able to provide the opportunity to bring internet to those who, otherwise, would be without it.”

This new law helps municipalities access the capital necessary to leverage grants and other resources to get connected to high-speed internet. The bill makes changes to the Municipal Gigabit Broadband Network Access Fund by allowing the Fund to provide matching funds to municipalities that are seeking grants from other sources that require fund matching, like other federal grants. Once communities receive this funding, they must provide connectivity to any underserved community anchor institution in the awarded area, such as libraries or town offices, so that those without internet at home still have a public way to access it nearby.

All non-emergency laws take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die unless otherwise specified. 

Other laws championed by Sen. Lawrence that took effect this year include measures to combat high-energy prices, improve access to health care and prescription drugs, promote economic opportunity and support working families, seniors and veterans.