Today’s Regulatory Mix: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Legislation; Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Update; FCC Issues Report and Order Addressing 911 Fee Diversion
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Legislation
The House Appropriations subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies approved a bill for fiscal year 2022 that includes approximately $1.6 billion in telecom and broadband loan and grant funding. The bill would provide:
- $690 million for 5% rural telecommunications loans, cost of money rural telecommunications loans, and for rural telecom loans made pursuant to section 306 of the Rural Electrification Act;
- $2.07 million for direct cost-of-money rural telecom loans made pursuant to section 305(d)(2) of the Act;
- $25 million for the cost of modifications for direct rural telecom loans;
- $11.869 million for the principal amount of broadband telecommunication loans;
- $60 million for rural telemedicine and distance learning grants;
- $1.772 million for cost of direct broadband loans; and $35 million for the Community Connect Grant Program; and
- $786 million for the ReConnect broadband loan and grant pilot program, with $36.6 million set aside for 19 specified Community Project Funding projects in California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Update
The FCC issued a press release with the latest information concerning the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program). Over 3 million households have enrolled in EBB Program since mid-May. The EBB Program dashboard contains information related to nationwide and state-specific enrollment figures that is updated weekly by USAC. The dashboard now contains data showing enrolled households in three-digit Zip code areas, which can be downloaded here.
FCC Issues Report and Order Addressing 911 Fee Diversion
The Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act of 2020 (the Act) was enacted in December of this past year. Section 902 of the Act directs the FCC to adopt rules to discourage states and jurisdictions from redirecting 911 fees. The FCC released its Report and Order to meet this directive and to:
- clarify what constitutes the kind of diversion of 911 fees that concerns Congress,
- establish a process for providing further guidance to states and taxing jurisdictions on fee diversion issues, and
- codify obligations and restrictions that section 902 imposes on states and taxing jurisdictions, including that that engage in fee diversion.
The rules adopted by the FCC in the Report and Order will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.