- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A push to expand broadband access in rural West Virginia has passed the state Senate.

Senators voted 29-5 to clear the legislation Thursday, sending it to the House of Delegates.

The bill would seek to build more than 2,000 miles of fiber optic cable owned and operated by the state. The job would be put out for separate bids on different sections.

Bonds would be sought after a sponsor shows a section of the project is viable.

The proposal would allow issuance of bonds so that the state could offer loans and grants for the projects.

Several state agencies would also be required to apply for federal grants for different broadband initiatives.

A Federal Communication Commission report ranked West Virginia 48th nationally for access to high-speed broadband Internet service.

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