LD 1323
Session - 127th Maine Legislature
LR 1247
Item 1
Bill Tracking, Additional Documents Chamber Status

An Act To Expand Rural Broadband

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 30-A MRSA c. 233  is enacted to read:



§ 6231 Definitions

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.

1 Authority.   "Authority" means an entity with bonding authority created by a municipality under section 6232.
2 Board of trustees.   "Board of trustees" means the governing board of an authority.
3 Municipality.   "Municipality" means a county, city or town in the State.

§ 6232 Bonding authority

1 Bonding authority.   A municipality may create an authority that is a body both corporate and politic and a public instrumentality of the municipality established for the purpose of issuing revenue bonds under section 6233 for the development of broadband infrastructure to serve that municipality. In implementing the authority's powers, duties and responsibilities, the municipality shall consider the state policy under Title 35-A, chapter 93.
2 Board of trustees; employees.   An entity created under this section must have a board of trustees of at least 3 members and adopt bylaws consistent with the provisions of this chapter and Title 13-B. A member of the board of trustees or an employee of the authority may not acquire or hold a direct or an indirect personal financial interest in an authority activity or property or facility included or planned to be included in or expected to directly benefit from an authority activity or in a contract or proposed contract in connection with an authority activity. A member of the board of trustees or an employee of the authority may not be subject to any personal liability for having acted within the course and scope of that person's membership or employment to carry out any power or duty under this chapter. The authority shall indemnify any member of the board of trustees and any employee of the authority against expenses actually and necessarily incurred by that person in connection with the defense of any action or proceeding in which that person is made a party by reason of past or present association with the authority.
3 Disclosure and confidentiality of records.   The provisions of Title 5, section 13120-M regarding Maine Rural Development Authority records apply to records of an authority created under this chapter.

§ 6233 Bonds

1 Authorization.   An authority may provide by resolution for the issuance of bonds for the purpose of funding the construction of broadband infrastructure or providing a loan to construct broadband infrastructure to serve and ensure comprehensive broadband coverage in the municipality. The bonds of the authority do not constitute a debt of the State, of the municipality or of any other agency or political subdivision of the State but are payable solely from the revenue of the authority, and neither the faith nor credit nor taxing power of the State, the municipality or any other political subdivision of the State is pledged to payment of the bonds. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any bonds issued pursuant to this chapter are fully negotiable. If any member of the board of trustees whose signature appears on the bond or coupons ceases to be a member of the board of trustees before the delivery of those bonds, that signature is valid and sufficient for all purposes as if that member of the board of trustees had remained a member of the board of trustees until delivery.
2 Resolution; prospective issues.   An authority may, by resolution authorizing prospective issues, provide:
A The manner of executing bonds and coupons;
B The form and denomination of bonds or coupons;
C Maturity dates;
D Interest rates on bonds or coupons;
E For redemption prior to maturity and the premium payable;
F The place or places for the payment of interest and principal;
G For registration if the authority determines it to be desirable;
H For the pledge of all or any of the revenue for securing payment;
I For the replacement of lost, destroyed or mutilated bonds;
J For the setting aside and the regulation and disposition of reserve and sinking funds;
K For limitation on the issuance of additional bonds;
L For the procedure, if any, by which the contract with a bondholder may be abrogated or amended;
M For the manner of sale and purchase of bonds;
N For covenants against pledging of any of the revenue of the authority;
O For such other covenants as to rates and charges as the board of trustees determines;
P For covenants as to the rights, liability, powers and duties arising upon the breach by the authority of any covenant, condition or obligation;
Q For covenants as to the bonds to be issued, as to the issuance of those bonds in escrow and otherwise and as to the use and disposition of the proceeds;
R For the issuance of bonds in series;
S For the performance of any acts as may be in the discretion of the board of trustees necessary, convenient or desirable to secure bonds or that tend to make bonds more marketable; and
T For the issuance of bonds on terms and conditions to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
3 Money received.   All money received from any bonds issued under this chapter must be applied solely for construction or loans for construction of broadband infrastructure that will serve the municipality. There is created a lien upon the money until so applied in favor of the bondholders or any member of the board of trustees as may be provided in respect of the bonds.
4 Trust indenture.   In the discretion of a board of trustees, bonds may be secured by a trust indenture by and between the authority and a corporate trustee, which may be a trust company or bank having the powers of a trust company located either within or outside the State. The trust indenture may pledge or assign the revenues of the authority or any part of it. The trust indenture may set forth the rights and remedies of the bondholders and the trustee, restrict the individual right of action of bondholders and contain such other provisions as the board of trustees may consider reasonable and proper for the security of bondholders. Expenses incurred in carrying out the trust indenture may be treated as a part of maintenance.
5 Rights of bondholders.   A board of trustees may make provisions for protecting and enforcing the rights and remedies of bondholders, including covenants as to acquisition of property, construction, maintenance, operation and repair, insurance and the custody, security and application of all money.
6 Depositories.   A trust company or bank having the powers of a trust company and located either within or outside the State may act as a depository of the proceeds of bonds and revenue and may furnish such indemnity or pledge such securities as may be required by an authority.
7 Tax free.   The purposes of this chapter being public and for the benefit of the people of the State, bonds of an authority are free from taxation by the State.
8 Revenue refunding bonds.   An authority may issue revenue refunding bonds for the purpose of refunding revenue bonds issued under this chapter. The issuance of any refunding bonds is the same as provided for in this chapter relating to revenue bonds.
9 Default.   In the event of default on bonds and in the event the default continues for a period of 3 months, action may be brought to enforce the rights of the bondholders by ensuring that the operation by a board of trustees is in conformity with the covenants of the bonds or the trust indenture.

Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §7104, sub-§9  is enacted to read:

9 Expansion of broadband.   The expansion of broadband through use of optical fiber is an authorized expense under the state universal service fund in subsection 3.

Sec. 3. 35-A MRSA §9202-A, sub-§1,  as enacted by PL 2009, c. 586, §1, is amended to read:

1. Goal.  It is the goal of the State that:
A. Broadband service become and remain, as nearly as possible, universally available in this State, including to all residential and business locations and community anchor institutions in the State; and
B A secure, reliable and sustainable forward-looking infrastructure that can meet future broadband needs is developed.
C The speed of the broadband infrastructure of the State at least equal the speed in the most recent definition of "broadband" adopted by the Federal Communications Commission; and
D The definition of "broadband" established pursuant to this section set a symmetric standard in which upload speeds and download speeds are equal to best serve the needs of the State's communities and businesses.

Sec. 4. 35-A MRSA §9202-A, last ¶,  as enacted by PL 2009, c. 586, §1, is amended to read:

In order to facilitate the achievement of the goals and policies of this section, the authority shall establish and regularly update, after opportunity for public comment and taking into consideration relevant federal policies, a definition of "broadband." "broadband," the speed in which may not be lower than the speed in the most recent definition of "broadband" adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Sec. 5. 35-A MRSA §9204, sub-§3, ¶¶E and F,  as enacted by PL 2005, c. 665, §3, are amended to read:

E. Identify opportunities for coordination among providers, consumers and state and local governmental entities, including coordination with the statewide emergency radio network; and
F. Create and facilitate public awareness and educational programs to encourage the use of broadband services . ; and

Sec. 6. 35-A MRSA §9204, sub-§3, ¶G  is enacted to read:

G Map the street-level availability and actual street-level speeds of broadband.


This bill allows municipalities and counties to create corporate entities with bonding authority to issue bonds for the purpose of funding construction or providing loans for the construction of broadband infrastructure to serve the municipality or county and ensure comprehensive broadband coverage within the municipality or county. The bill further clarifies that the expansion of broadband using optical fiber is an authorized expense under the state universal service fund administered by the Public Utilities Commission. Finally, this bill amends the State's goals for broadband policy by requiring that the ConnectME Authority define "broadband" to have at least the same speed as the current Federal Communications Commission standard and to create a standard providing that upload and download speeds are the same.

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