Department of Housing and Community Development – Office of Digital Inclusion – Established (Digital Connectivity Act of 2021)
Bill Sponsor: Senators Elfreth, Beidle, Eckardt, Griffith, Guzzone, Hester, Kelley, Patterson, Rosapepe, West, and Zucker
Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs
Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus
Person Submitting: Christina Hulslander
I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB66 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore.
The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and its members strongly recommend the approval of this bill to develop the Office of Digital Inclusion. It is necessary to focus resources, assess penetration, and create equitable access of broadband internet in Maryland, specifically in rural areas where it is lacking. Online resources have penetrated all aspects of modern living and provide economic, educational, cultural, healthcare, and entertainment opportunities that elevate quality of life. Broadband will be a boon to our rural communities – no one in this country should have to miss out on the advancement that accompanies Information Age technology. On the contrary, folks in rural areas are most deserving of opportunities to continue to thrive where they are located, rather than abandon those areas simply to remain in a modernizing world. Economic development for rural areas of Maryland requires reliable broadband service.
Increasingly broadband offers access to technology that can optimize agricultural practices, pinpoint-targeting resource allocation. This can not only make an operation more environmentally sustainable, it maximizes yields and profits.
Digital technologies advance rapidly. Estimates are that 90% of our current data use come from technologies that did not exist 2 years ago. Smart appliances and digital tools connect to the internet for energy efficiency, enhanced security and safety, and to monitor health variables. No Maryland citizen should be deprived of opportunities that come with access to digital technologies.
For these reasons, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE result in committee.