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Inslee signs 9th District's Mary Dye's broadband bill


Gov. Jay Inslee (center) and 9th District Rep. Mary Dye (on Inslee's right) at the March 26 signing of House Bill 2664 giving port districts the abilit to provide broadband services.

OLYMPIA - After two years of give and take, legislation sponsored by 9th District Rep. Mary Dye (R-Pomeroy) addressing broadband issues in rural Washington state has been signed into law.

House Bill 2664 facilitates the creation of infrastructure allowing for broadband access in rural areas statewide. According to a March 26 news release, Dye's policy, which initially was met with considerable resistance in Olympia, extends telecommunications authority to all ports in Washington.

"It has been an uphill battle, but in the end tenacity won out," Dye said. "This statute was brought to me by some brilliant people who see immense possibility in rural Washington."

As an example, Dye points to John Whitelatch, who owns Claar Cellars in Franklin County. Although his business is doing well, Whitelatch says growth has been hampered by a lack of adequate broadband service.

"It's been the last five or six years that we've really aggressively been trying to grow, and we have been running into problems with Internet speed," Whitelatch added. "It's been a thorn in our side."

The measure could lay the foundation for what Whitelatch and thousands of other rural Washingtonians need - high speed internet at a competitive price, something not universally available. The bill removes the definition of "rural" from current statute, giving all ports the authority to construct fiber networks.

As a result, ports can build open access networks that are affordable for any number of telecoms or internet service providers to operate in underserved towns and neighborhoods. By giving multiple providers an affordable option, and having the ports absorb the initial cost of investment, more people will have access to the global digital economy.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law at a March 26 ceremony.

"This is a game changer for residents and businesses that couldn't convince any network to give them access," Dye said. "The governor has signed the measure on the dotted line, and now it's time to roll up our sleeves."

House Bill 2664 goes into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the regular session. The Legislature adjourned March 8.


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