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NO. 172.  AN ACT RELATING TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT.

(H.855)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  POLICY; IMPLEMENTATION

The policy of this state is to take an active role, through policy and funding, to promote development of broadband infrastructure and access to advanced telecommunications services in rural as well as urban communities in Vermont.  Although the state preference is that broadband deployment would best be effected through market forces, the rural character of Vermont makes it unlikely that market forces will fulfill the need for these services throughout the state without state subsidy for projects in remote and difficult‑to‑serve areas.  Up-to-date telecommunications systems are essential to Vermont’s economic viability and competitiveness by assuring business success, job growth, healthy economic development, improving delivery of health care, expansion of educational opportunities, and providing public safety services. 

Sec. 2.   EXPANSION OF ACCESS TO BROADBAND SERVICE; STATE

              REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES

Each state agency or department that has regulations or procedures that affect broadband deployment within the state shall review and inventory those regulations and procedures and, as needed, propose changes that are likely to stimulate broadband deployment throughout Vermont.  Each appropriate agency or department shall submit an inventory of those regulations and procedures and proposals to accelerate broadband deployment to the department of public service, the chair of the house committee on commerce and the senate committees on finance and economic development, housing, and general affairs on or before October 1, 2006. 

Sec. 3.  BROADBAND MAP

The agency of commerce and community development, in cooperation with the department of public service, shall develop or support the development of an on-line map available to consumers, which identifies those areas of the state that have broadband internet access available to consumers at prices commonly sold to residential and small business consumers.  A process shall be developed for service providers to update the information on the map with the supervision of the agency.

Sec. 4.  BROADBAND GOALS; REPORT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The department of public service shall provide a report to the house committee on commerce, the senate committee on finance, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs on or before January 15, 2007.  The report shall:

(1)  Identify the steps that have been taken by the state to reach the goal of 90 percent of Vermonters having access to broadband service;

(2)  Identify what percent of Vermonters has broadband service available;

(3)  Identify how current state and federal regulations and programs help or hinder the deployment of additional broadband service; and

(4)  Recommend legislative or administrative actions that could stimulate the further development of broadband service.

Sec. 5.  24 V.S.A. § 4412(6) is amended to read:

(6)  Heights of certain structures.  The height of antenna structures, wind turbines with blades less than 20 feet in diameter, or rooftop solar collectors less than 10 feet high, any of which are mounted on complying structures, shall not be regulated unless the bylaws provide specific standards for regulation.  However, if an antenna structure is less than 20 feet in height and its primary function is to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or state purposes, it shall not be regulated under this chapter if it is located on a structure located within the boundaries of a downhill ski area and permitted under this chapter.  For the purposes of this subdivision, “downhill ski area” means an area with trails for downhill skiing served by one or more ski lifts and any other areas within the boundaries of the ski area and open to the public for winter sports.

Sec. 6.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage. 

Approved:  May 22, 2006



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us