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04/09/2021
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Municipal broadband is still held up

Despite the White House’s recent declaration of support for publicly operated ISPs, 22 states still have roadblocks in place that prohibit municipalities from operating their own broadband networks, according to new research from BroadbandNow. Eighteen of those states have “explicit” barriers in place, the group found, while the others are still quite restrictive in their own right. Michigan, for example, doesn’t fully ban municipal networks, but will only allow a city to launch its own network if it receives fewer than three bids from private internet service providers on the project beforehand — a hurdle only two cities have cleared. Ryan Johnston reports.


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Baltimore mayor makes moves

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott last month made two key technology appointments to his administration, including a new chief data officer and the city’s first-ever director of broadband and digital equity. In a March 22 announcement, Scott named Justin Elszasz, a deputy director in the city’s innovation office, as the new chief data officer. Jason Hardebeck, a former health tech executive, was appointed to the broadband and equity position. Scott also moved the data officer role out of its longtime home in the city's IT office and into City Hall, an action that government data gurus have pushed more mayors and governors to take. Benjamin Freed has more.


House cybersecurity chair plans to reintroduce state and local grant proposal

Rep. Yvette Clarke, the chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity panel said this week she will soon reintroduce legislation that would create a robust annual grant program supporting state and local governments. Speaking during an online event, Clarke said she plans a bill that will offer $500 million in grants, an increase from the $400 million lawmakers considered last year in legislation that drew strong bipartisan support, but did not get a vote in the Senate. Ben has the story.


Hawaii could have a vaccine passport by summer, officials say

Hawaii Chief Information Officer Douglas Murdock told reporters Monday that while he’s unsure when the state’s technology partners will have a COVID-19 vaccine passport ready, he “wouldn’t be surprised” if such a health credential were available in Hawaii by this summer. During a press conference with Gov. David Ige, Murdock said Hawaii is currently testing a vaccine passport that may be ready to go by the July 4 holiday. The island state, which is heavily dependent on tourism, has been reeling economically since the pandemic began. Colin Wood has details.


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