Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania House Mirroring Federal ACP

Digital Inclusion

A Pennsylvania bill seeks to emulate the federal Affordable Connectivity Program by providing a $30 per month subsidy for internet costs.

Jericho Casper Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania House Mirroring Federal ACP Photo of Rep. Lindsay Powell, D-Pennsylvania, one of 21 co-sponsors of H.B. 2195.

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2024 – A bill that would establish a statewide internet subsidy program, mirroring the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, was introduced to the Pennsylvania House on Monday.

House Bill 2195 aims to make broadband internet more affordable for households facing financial challenges by offering a $30 per month subsidy to assist with monthly internet subscription costs.

This development comes as the federal ACP nears the end of its funding, with April 2024 anticipated to be the last full month of benefits, barring Congressional action.

The ACP, which was stood up on December 31, 2021, by a $14.2 billion allotment from the American Rescue Plan Act, has been instrumental in supporting one in seven Pennsylvania households, or over 760,000 families in the state alone.

The Pennsylvania bill, which has garnered support from 21 Democratic co-sponsors, outlines provisions to not only provide monthly internet subsidies but also reimburse participating providers up to $100 for supplying connected devices to eligible households.

Unlike the federal ACP, the proposed state program would not offer a higher $75 subsidy to households on tribal lands or extremely rural households in high-cost locations.

The bill would establish a nonlapsing fund in the Pennsylvania Treasury to support the new initiative, which has been named the Affordable Broadband Internet Access Service Program.

Advocates of the ACP, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Biden administration, have been calling on Congress to secure funding to sustain the ACP since October, but as of yet, these efforts have been unsuccessful.

The ACP Extension Act, a bipartisan bill that would infuse the fund with $7 billion, has gained 223 cosponsors in the House and five in the Senate. However, industry analysts are skeptical about the likelihood of House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, permitting a floor vote on the bill.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, who co-introduced the bill, initiated a discharge petition on Tuesday to force a vote on the bill. For the petition to advance, it must be endorsed by a majority of House members, which would require at least 218 signatures.

As the sunsetting of the ACP appears near, state-level initiatives like H.B. 2195 may be a solution to the potential impact of dwindling federal support for broadband access.