Delaware is working on universal internet coverage

0

A $110 million grant is bringing high-speed internet to Delaware homes without it, and anyone who wants it just has to apply.

Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, held a forum April 12 to explain the grant that gave Comcast, Verizon and Mediacom millions of dollars to lay fiber optic cable – a material that provides the fastest internet speeds. industry fast – for last mile connections to more than 11,000 homes.

“It’s been a priority of mine, and of the last two administrations here in Delaware, to accomplish this,” Pettyjohn said. “With the funding we’ve been able to secure from the federal government, we envision being about the first state to have universal connectivity for every business, every home, every address in our state.”

Over the next 36 months, the three Internet service providers will install fiber optic cables in homes and businesses that currently do not have Internet access. However, homes that already have copper or coaxial connections will not be eligible for an upgrade. The subsidy is not intended to create competition in the internet market, although officials said they regularly hear complaints from consumers about the lack of competition in what is most often a single-vendor internet market. in Delaware.

It only affects homes without a connection, said Chris Cohan, head of policy and communications for the Department of Technology and Information. “Everything is fiber right down to the homes, so we’re excited about that,” he said. “I think it’s the first in the country.”

Under the grant, homes in rural areas, even those with mile-long driveways, Pettyjohn said, can now have the fiber optic cable installed for free.

In this case, Jason Clarke, chief information officer for DTI, said Delaware’s small size is a real advantage. “We don’t have mountains to cross. We don’t have rocky ground to dredge,” he said.

Residents and businesses wanting a broadband connection can contact the DTI on its website at Broadband.delaware.gov. By typing in an address, the site will display the internet speed at the property. A map of internet coverage across the state also shows dead zones where there is no coverage, and anyone unsure of their internet status can find more information on the DTI website.

Legislative closure

Latest Marijuana Bills Roll Out of Committee

Two marijuana bills — the latest iterations of three previous attempts to legalize adult marijuana and create a regulated market in Delaware — were dropped from committee on April 13.

Bill 371 would remove all penalties for adults 21 and older for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and the bill only needs a simple majority to pass.

A second bill, HB 372, provides a framework for regulating a marijuana industry in Delaware, but requires a three-fifths majority due to tax and tariff implications.

Both bills await action in the House.

Tax Refunds Bill Passes House

A bill that would give all Delaware resident taxpayers a $300 rebate passed the House on April 7 by a vote of 35 to 3. Three representatives were absent.

Under the bill, the payment of the $300 will be made by the Delaware Department of Finance to resident taxpayers who have filed a 2020 personal income tax return. This payment will be made to each taxpayer, including those who have filed jointly. No action on the part of a taxpayer is required to receive the $300.

The bill awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Abuse of Power Prevention Act Leaves Committee

A bill to uncover official misconduct by public servants was withdrawn from a Senate committee on April 13 and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Senate Bill 256, known as the Abuse of Power Prevention Act, would ensure proper accountability for public officials who abuse their positions of power and the public trust. The law establishes a degree of sanction for official misconduct which must be commensurate with the seriousness of the misconduct. In addition, this law conforms the language of discrimination to the language used in hate crimes law.

Increase in Damages for Loss or Injury of a Proposed Pet

A bill to change Delaware law in cases where an animal is killed or injured was introduced on April 6.

Sponsored by Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, Senate Bill 258 would expand damages related to injured or deceased animals that are tortiously injured by a third party or a third party’s animal.

Under current law, an owner is only allowed to recover the fair market value of a pet, regardless of the amount of veterinary bills or care-related expenses arising from a tort injury. This law provides for damages of up to $15,000 in veterinary bills for injuries, the fair market value of a deceased animal, and up to $15,000 for emotional trauma suffered by the owner of the animal. Under this law, the maximum recoverable amount available as compensation for tortious injury to a pet is $30,000 plus the fair market value of the pet in the event the pet’s death is caused by tortious injury.

The invoice for paid leave passes

The Healthy Delaware Families Act, giving eligible workers up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave per year and up to six weeks of paid family care leave, passed the House on April 14 by a vote of 29 against. 11 with an absentee.

The bill passed the Senate in March and now needs Governor John Carney’s signature to become law.

While furloughed, workers would receive up to 80% of their average weekly earnings through the state insurance program.

A one-time cost of $17.7 million would be required to set up the program for fiscal year 2023, with $3.4 million in ongoing costs. Ongoing costs increase to $6.6 million in FY2024, but would be phased out in FY25 – the program’s launch year – with $3.7 million coming from the general fund and An additional $3.7 million from special funds primarily made up of payroll taxes.

Employers and employees would each pay 0.04% in payroll taxes to help fund the program; future costs are expected to increase by 2% per year, according to the Comptroller General’s tax note.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing the program. Companies with less than 25 employees benefit from a few breaks. Companies found in violation of the law could be fined up to $5,000 and face civil lawsuits.

Share.

Comments are closed.