AN ACT TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL AND REVISED USES FOR FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUNDS, TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR DISASTER RECOVERY, AND TO MAKE OTHER REVISIONS OF LAW.
Directs the Department of Information Technology to provide a special supplementary grant process to accelerate the provision of broadband access through the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program for applications submitted on or before September 15, 2020. Requires grants to be awarded by December 30, 2020.
Requires grant applications and awards to comply with the requirements of GS 143B-1373, which sets forth guidelines and requirements of the GREAT program, with the following modifications.
Allows 15 rather than 30 days for posting applications, and requires protest submissions to be submitted in the 15-day period.
Expands the definition of eligible economically distressed county to include development tier one and two areas and rural census tracts located in development tier three areas (only includes development tier one areas under the Program's statutory guidelines). Bars counties with total employment of 500,000 or more from eligibility.
Replaces and expands the scoring model measures, provided by the region of the proposed project.
Replaces the matching fund requirement, now ranging from 50 to 30 percent matching required based on scoring ranges (statutory requirements call for 55 to 35 percent matching). Allows for up to 50 percent of matching funds to be paid by third-party funding and other grant programs, excluding the Universal Service Fund and the Connect America Phase II Fund. Allows for election of matching payment until project completion.
Concerning grant awards and administration, requires priority for applications receiving the highest score based on the act's scoring model. Provides for breaking tied scores. Requires grant agreements to comply with the statutory requirements, along with timelines and disbursement criteria based on progress. Permits the applicant to opt to receive an initial disbursement equal to construction costs. Details certification required by the applicant at project completion. Caps grants at $2.8 million, with no combination of grants involving a single county to exceed $5.6 million.
Adds to the statutory forfeiture provisions a total forfeiture and liability for any unmatched funds if the project is not completed under the agreed terms prior to December 30, 2021.
Adds to the statutory speed multiplier formula, giving projects that will provide a minimum upload speed of 200 megabits per second and a minimum download speed of 20 megabits per second, or more, a two point multiplier.
Directs the State Controller to transfer $30 million from the Coronavirus Relief Reserve to the Coronavirus Relief Fund (both established in SL 2020-4) for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Transfers $30 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund. Appropriates $30 million from the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund to the GREAT Fund to implement the act. Requires unspent funds to be carried over and appropriated for the 2020-21 fiscal year to implement the act and the requirements and limitations of the federal CARES Act.
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