AN ACT TO FOSTER INFRASTRUCTURE FOR BROADBAND EXPANSION AND RESOURCES IN NORTH CAROLINA BY AUTHORIZING COUNTIES AND CITIES TO INSTALL AND LEASE BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE TO INCREASE ADEQUATE BROADBAND SERVICES TO ATTRACT INVESTMENT IN LOCAL ECONOMIES, PROVIDE FOR EDUCATIONAL AND CAREER OPPORTUNITIES, MODERNIZE FARMING TECHNOLOGIES, AND TO PROVIDE FOR IMPROVED HEALTH CARE.
House committee substitute deletes the provisions of the 1st edition and provides the following.
Enacts GS 153A-458 and GS 160-499.5, authorizing counties and cities to install or maintain broadband infrastructure to be leased to a private provider pursuant to GS 160A-272.5, as enacted. Defines broadband infrastructure to mean wireline or wireless infrastructure capable of providing terrestrially deployed internet access service with specified minimum transmission speeds. Limits the authority granted to counties to instances in which (1) the lessee is a person operating for profit in NC to provide broadband services and (2) the county either has more than 4.75% of the county without a broadband infrastructure provider or has a major military installation. Limits the authority granted to cities to instances in which the lessee is a person operating for profit in this state to provide broadband services to customers and the city has at least 60% of its population lying in a county described in GS 153A-458 as authorized to install or maintain broadband infrastructure to be leased (one that has either 4.75% of the county without a broadband infrastructure provider or a major military installation). Authorizes boards of commissioners and cities to use ad valorem taxes, grants, or any other unencumbered funds in exercising authority granted under the statute. Prior to installation, requires a county or city to prepare a report containing a business plan for providing broadband infrastructure and the results of a feasibility study determining the needs and available resources, as specified, including a map of the location and type of broadband infrastructure proposed to be installed. Requires the report be available in the office of the clerk for at least 90 days prior to the date of the public hearing. Requires the board of commissioners or city to hold a public hearing with at least one week's public notice, stating the intent to install and lease the broadband infrastructure. Clarifies that the statute does not authorize a county or city to use broadband infrastructure constructed pursuant to the statute to provide communications services pursuant to Article 16A of GS Chapter 160A.
Makes conforming changes to GS 153A-149 and GS 160A-209, adding construction of broadband infrastructure to the purposes for which counties and cities can levy property taxes. Effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2020.
Amends GS 159-81 to authorize broadband services for the purpose of leasing in accordance with GS 160A-272.5 to be revenue bond projects.
Enacts GS 160A-272.5 to set forth requirements for the lease of broadband infrastructure installed or maintained pursuant to GS 153A-458 or GS 160A-499.5, as enacted, to private providers for delivery of services to customers. Requires the appropriate governing board to authorize the execution of the lease agreement by adopting a resolution at a regular board meeting upon 30 days' public notice. Limits lease terms to 25 years, inclusive of any options to renew or extend the lease. Details further requirements, including that the lease be entered into on a technology-neutral basis, the lease be open to similarly situated private providers on comparable terms and conditions, and the appropriate governing board solicit requests for proposals prior to adopting the authorizing resolution in accordance with the specified procedures, which provide for advertisement parameters and allow proposals to be rejected for any reason. Applies to leases entered into on or after October 1, 2019.
Amends GS 153A-349.60 to allow counties to provide grants to qualified private providers of highspeed Internet access to expand service in unserved areas in the county (previously, more narrowly limited to expanding service in unserved areas for economic development in the county). Makes further clarifying changes.
Amends GS 160A-321 to prohibit cities from selling, leasing, or discontinuing a city-owned public enterprise in its entirety without approval from a majority of voters (previously, did not specify that the prohibition applies to the sale, lease, or discontinuance of the public enterprise in its entirety). Makes further clarifying and organizational changes.
Makes confomring changes to GS 160A-340.2 to explicitly prohibit cities from using broadband infrastructure constructed by the city pursuant to new GS 160A-272.5 from being used to provide communications services under Article 16A.
Effective October 1, 2019.
Makes conforming changes to the act's long title.
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