A New Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania House Mirroring Federal ACP

A bill was introduced to the Pennsylvania House on Monday. This bill aims to create a program that provides internet subsidies across the entire state. The program would be similar to the federal Affordable Connectivity Program.

House Bill 2195 is a proposal to help make broadband internet cheaper for households that have financial difficulties. It suggests providing a $30 per month subsidy to help with the cost of monthly internet subscriptions.

The federal ACP is expected to run out of funding by April 2024, which means that the last full month of benefits will likely be in that month, unless Congress takes action.

The ACP, which was established on December 31, 2021, with a $14.2 billion allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act, has played a crucial role in providing support to approximately one in seven households in Pennsylvania. This amounts to over 760,000 families in the state alone.

The Pennsylvania bill has support from 21 Democratic co-sponsors. It includes provisions to give monthly internet subsidies and reimburse participating providers up to $100 for giving connected devices to eligible households.

The proposed state program would not provide a higher $75 subsidy to households on tribal lands or extremely rural households in high-cost locations, unlike the federal ACP.

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The bill aims to create a fund in the Pennsylvania Treasury that will not expire, in order to support a new initiative called the Affordable Broadband Internet Access Service Program.

Supporters of the ACP, such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Biden administration, have been asking Congress to provide funding to keep the ACP going since October. However, these efforts have not been successful so far.

The ACP Extension Act is a bill that has gained support from both Democrats and Republicans. It aims to provide $7 billion to the fund. In the House, it has gained 223 cosponsors, and in the Senate, it has gained support from five cosponsors. However, industry experts doubt that House Speaker Mike Johnson, a representative from Louisiana, will allow a vote on the bill to take place.

Representative Yvette Clarke, a Democrat from New York, introduced the bill and started a discharge petition on Tuesday to make sure there is a vote on the bill. In order for the petition to move forward, it needs to be supported by most of the House members. This means it needs at least 218 signatures. As the end of the ACP approaches, state-level initiatives like H.B. 2195 could help address the potential impact of reduced federal support for broadband access.

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