“Now more than ever, access to high-speed broadband is critical to Missouri’s infrastructure,” Governor Parson said. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Representative Louis Riggs and Senator Dan Hegeman on this legislation, which will help us continue to bring the best possible broadband programs and services to all Missourians, especially to those in rural areas of the state.”
The Missouri Broadband Grant Program was created in 2018 to help providers, communities, counties, and regions invest in broadband infrastructure for unserved and underserved areas. In the 2019 legislative session, $5 million was appropriated for the inaugural round of grant funding.
The grant program is currently set to expire August 28, 2021. HB 1768 extends the broadband program an additional six years to June 30, 2027. Under the legislation, grant recipients that do not meet the speed requirement of 25 megabits per second must repay any funds received through the program.
In addition to extending the Missouri Broadband Grant Program, HB 1768 modifies the powers of Neighborhood Improvement and Community Improvement Districts to include broadband as an acceptable project.
This legislation builds on Missouri’s efforts to bridge the digital gap and expand broadband access to all areas of the state.
Governor Parson also signed HB 2120, which provides protections for safe drinking water in Missouri’s schools.
HB 2120 will allow Missouri schools to submit a test of potable water for lead content to a laboratory approved by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. This provision, championed by Senator Gina Walsh, is in response to a review that found numerous schools with elevated lead levels in their water.
By signing this legislation, Missouri’s schools and the Department of Health and Senior Services will be able to capitalize on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant of $719,000 that will assist with lead water testing.