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Politics

House Passes Compromise To Fund Broadband For Maine Schools, Libraries

The Maine House of Representatives has approved a compromise to stabilize funding for the school and library network that helps provide broadband access for many areas of the state.

The program has been around since 1996 and receives most of its funding from federal sources, but the state has assessed a fee on land line telephone customers since then to provide a subsidy for the program. The measure lowers the fee, but expands it to cellphones.

“Really what we are doing is updating the statute,” says Biddeford Democrat Martin Grohman, sponsor of the original bill. “When it was drafted in ’96, we didn’t foresee the transition to mobile.”

Other supporters say the service is crucial in some areas of the state where home access to broadband is limited.

Opponents are concerned about increased fees on cellphones to fund the service.

The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate.