Rural broadband expansion measure clears first key hurdle at Colorado Statehouse |

Rural broadband expansion measure clears first key hurdle at Colorado Statehouse

Seamus Malia completes an assignment in computer class at Strawberry Park Elementary School in 2014.

A state Senate panel took a first step this week toward overhauling a state telecom fee in an attempt to expand broadband internet access in rural Colorado.

About 1 in 4 rural households still lack access to broadband internet, leaving wide swaths of Colorado unable to compete for residents and businesses. But after an effort to jump-start rural broadband development late last year faltered, lawmakers this year appear poised to make headway on an issue that state leaders blame for exacerbating Colorado's urban-rural divide.

"I don't think that I can emphasize enough how important it is to us," Sen. Don Coram, a Republican bill sponsor from Montrose, said at the hearing.

The proposal is likely to clear both chambers and become law, with bill sponsors who include top lawmakers in both chambers, such as Senate Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat.

Read more from The Denver Post.

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