House passes rural broadband bill

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
202-682-7390

***LEGISLATIVE ALERT***

House passes rural broadband bill

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4824, the Rural Broadband Permitting Efficiency Act of 2018, with amendments, sponsored by Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah). The bill allows certain State and tribal permitting authority to encourage expansion of broadband service to rural and tribal communities, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4824 passed by the House included an amendment offered on June 6 that addressed concerns raised by President Begaye and the Navajo Nation Washington Office. The amendment made eligible Indian tribes to enter into Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) to prepare environmental analyses required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 for broadband permits within operational right-of-ways on U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bureau of Land Management lands; clarified that government-to-government tribal consultation could not be delegated as a responsibility to states or Indian tribes; and allowed for tribal consultation with the secretaries concerned within 90 days of the states entering into MOUs. However, the bill did not include the categorical exclusion provision for broadband projects within operational rights-of-way.

While on the House floor during the legislative session on September 12, Congressman Curtis thanked President Begaye for his support for the legislation.

The bill moves to the Senate to await passage before becoming public law.

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