Over the passed couple months, we have been meeting with our state legislators and have hired a lobbyist to promote our cause.
Last night, our work has paid off in a big way. Representative Joe McDonald introduced an appropriation request in front of the House JGEA committee in which we provided testimony. The appropriation is for a special project that would allow for a single fiber build project to spur economic development similar to what Annandale is proposing.
This afternoon, we were notified that the committee, and more specifically Representative Pat Garofalo who is the chair, has included $2 million in the bill for such a project. This is a huge step forward and it is due to hard work of the technology committee and our lobbyists, and more importantly, the phone calls and emails you have sent in support.
However, we are not out of the woods yet. Even though there are a numerous legislators at the Capital sympathetic to our cause, especially after the results of the Border-to-Border grant program, there WILL be a battle brought upon us by the telecommunications and cable company lobbyists. Their fear of municipal owned networks that may compete with the private sector leads them to oppose and stifle any opportunity for municipalities to choose and control their access to information and more importantly determine their own economic development destiny.
This issue has transcended far beyond just Internet. It has become a case of an industry trying to control the ability for communities to choose their own path in how they interact with the rest of the world.
In the coming weeks, there will be many attempts to strip out this appropriation. The opposition will lobby against it by meeting with legislators and possibly the Governor. If we are to be successful, your support will be needed more than ever.
BROADBAND CALL TO ACTION!
We request all of you contact Representatives Garofalo and McDonald and thank them for the work they are doing for Annandale. Feel free to add comments on how important this project is for you and why it is desperately needed. This is the fuel that keeps this effort going. Their contact info is as follows:
We will keep you updated with future calls to action and who to contact.
Like I said before, there is still a lot of work ahead of us but this is a high profile issue at the Capital and there will be tons of attention paid to it. The Annandale Technology Committee can’t do it alone, but with your help, we will be successful.