- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A bill to encourage high-speed broadband coverage is getting support in the Legislature, but needs funding to survive.

The bill would cost about $200,000 over two years to create the Maine Broadband Initiative.

The House on Monday initially voted 116-29 in support of the bill. The Senate also recommended the bill’s passage.

The office would issue bonds to support construction of broadband infrastructure.

Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellow’s bill would direct $6.2 million in general fund revenue from Maine’s telecommunications excise tax to the office.

Bellows said that high-speed and reliable internet service will help determine Maine’s future.

At the bill’s hearing, telecommunication lobbyists denied that Maine lacks broadband access.

The Telecommunications Association of Maine says Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s budget would direct telecommunications excise tax revenue back to municipalities.

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