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Lawmakers want a say on broadband

Idaho Statehouse. File photo.

Idaho Statehouse. File photo.

Before the state writes a new contract to provide high school broadband, lawmakers want their chance to weigh in.

Both the Idaho House and Senate have passed resolutions to create a legislative “interim committee” to study the issue. The moves come in the aftermath of the Idaho Education Network contract fiasco — which left Idaho without a statewide system, and left school districts scrambling to find a replacement.

The Senate passed its version of a broadband resolution April 8, before the House countered with a streamlined version April 9, according to Idaho Education News. This version passed the House 63-0.

The Senate will likely defer to the House’s version, said Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, the Senate’s majority caucus chairman.

Both resolutions have the same basic objective: to give the Legislature a chance to influence a new statewide broadband contract — and to weigh in on the need for a statewide framework. The House-passed resolution authorizes an interim committee “to undertake and complete a study of and make recommendations for broadband services and governance for the state of Idaho.”

After District Judge Patrick Owen voided the first Idaho Education Network contract, the Department of Administration began working on a rebid. The department has already sought feedback from would-be bidders, and has said it wants to go out for bids this summer.

This may affect the interim committee’s timetable, said Lakey. “That committee may be meeting quickly.”

 

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