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August 2019

State announces major broadband expansion

Gov. Eric Holcomb recently announced an initial round of broadband infrastructure expansion projects for several rural areas. It is part of the new state budget passed in the 2019 legislative session that all Indiana House Republicans supported.

The Next Level Broadband program awarded just over $22 million in funding for broadband expansion in 11 locations across Indiana. This will provide reliable and affordable internet access to underserved areas in 12 counties, including more than 4,800 homes and businesses.

Indiana’s Next Level Broadband program is a $100 million investment in ensuring rural residents are connected to dependable internet service, helping to close a digital divide with those who live in our urban centers.

For the first round of funding, telecommunications providers applied for up to $5 million in funding to expand internet service to unserved areas if they offered at least a 20 percent match. Unserved areas are defined as those that don’t even have one provider with internet speeds of at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload – considered the speeds necessary for the most basic service.

Seven providers and utility cooperatives pledged $14 million to match Next Level Broadband’s $22.1 million commitment, totaling just over $36 million in new internet service for the state. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, tasked with leading the application process, selected 11 projects.

Those broadband expansions will result in internet service of up to one gigabyte, the highest download and upload speeds currently available on the market. Click here for more details.

The broadband infrastructure improvements are just one facet of Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections program. Other objectives include expediting major highway projects, generating more nonstop flights at state airports and expanding railroads in northwest Indiana. A commitment to providing superior infrastructure establishes economic opportunities for all Hoosiers.

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Stop for children, school buses

As children return to school and more buses are on the roads, it is important for motorists to know the laws and prioritize safety.

When a bus is stopped with its flashing red lights activated and its stop arm extended, drivers are required to stop when approaching a school bus from any direction. If motorists are on a highway that is divided by a barrier or unpaved area, they are required to stop if they are traveling in the same direction as the school bus. If there is no barrier, all lanes in all directions must stop.

While most drivers follow these traffic laws, there are still some who are either unaware or disregard the law completely. In fact, Hoosier bus drivers report an average of more than 2,500 stop-arm violations each day.

To keep young Hoosiers safe and hold motorists accountable, lawmakers passed a law increasing the penalties for individuals who fail to stop when a school bus stop arm is extended. Through the new law, the penalty for injuring or killing someone as a result of recklessly passing a school bus has been increased, which could potentially mean larger fines, and longer jail sentences for violators. A court can also suspend your driver’s license for 90 days, or for a year if it’s your second offense.

For the safety of both children and drivers, it is important to continuously watch out for school buses and the students around them as they return to the roads this month.

Click here to see helpful tips for motorists to best keep young Hoosiers safe.

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