OLYMPIA – Washington will soon end its long-held restriction on public utilities offering public broadband service directly to residents thanks to legislation sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island). The Public Broadband Act (HB 1336) cleared its final hurdle with strong bipartisan support (65-32) after the House concurred with Senate amendments to the bill. The bill now heads to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk. The bill allows retail broadband service to be offered by all public utility districts, port districts, towns, cities, and counties, and allows for better collaboration with neighboring tribes.
“The pandemic has shown us that everyone needs affordable, high-speed broadband: for the past year, we’ve all relied on the internet for remote school, remote work, remote healthcare, and more. Broadband is just as basic to modern life as power or water, and this bill allows all local governments to provide it directly to the public. I’m grateful to the thousands of parents, teachers, tribal members, activists, public utility districts, and Washington residents who signed in support of this bill and demanded change: with this bill, Washington finally joins the majority states that allow full public broadband,” said Hansen.