Measure to protect broadband access in schools, libraries advances

Grohman’s bill provides sustainable funding source for statewide high-speed internet program

Rep. Grohman

AUGUSTA – A measure from Rep. Martin Grohman to protect access to high-speed internet at Maine schools and libraries advanced with strong bipartisan support from the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee Wednesday.

“Imagine searching for a job today without the internet – or taking a class, working remotely or even looking for a new home or apartment,” said Grohman, D-Biddeford. “Access to all of these opportunities is publicly available thanks to the Maine School and Library Network, which makes high-speed internet available in Maine communities large and small.”

Grohman’s bill protects the Maine School and Library Network, or MSLN, by simplifying and modernizing its funding structure. Current funding depends on landline telephone use, leading in recent years to declining funding and placing an increasing, disproportionate burden on older Mainers and veterans. Grohman’s measure reduces the pressure on landline users while providing sustainable funding for the program.

“I’m very grateful to the many stakeholders who recognized the value of the Maine School and Library Network and came to the table to work together on creative solutions,” said Grohman. “The group included both landline and wireless telephone providers as well as cable companies. Without their commitment, we wouldn’t have been able to move this measure forward. Their collaboration has been impressive and deserves recognition.”

At the public hearing on the bill, Scarborough Public Library Director Nancy Crowell was among the library staff and educators who testified in support of adequately funding the MSLN.

“For us and members of our community, the MSLN connection is more than just an information network,” said Crowell. “It’s a community connection with real, tangible value.”

The measure, LD 256, faces further votes in both the House and the Senate.

Grohman is serving his second term in the Maine House. He represents part of Biddeford and serves on the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Contact:

Lindsay Crete [Grohman], c. 231-1442

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