Gov. Tate Reeves today signed HB 1029, the Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi Act. The legislation creates a new central office – the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi – that will be committed to coordinating and streamlining broadband policy in the state.
The office will exist within the Department of Finance and Administration and will, among other responsibilities, administer federal grant programs to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved areas.
The stewardship of broadband funding will help to increase access to this critical piece of infrastructure and strengthen the capacity for technological connection across the state.
“We recognize that to best prepare our residents for the jobs of the next 50 years, we need to ensure that every Mississippian has access to the full breadth of benefits technology has to offer,” Reeves said. “This new office is a strategic move that will give us a centralized, coordinated, and streamlined approach to bring a variety of programs and efforts together under one roof. It will help to ensure accountability and transparency over the range of efforts and money that is being invested into Mississippi’s broadband infrastructure.”
Reeves also announced that Sally Doty would be the first director of the office.
Sally Doty is the current executive director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff. She is a former State Senator from Brookhaven and represented Southwest Mississippi for 10 years.
At the Public Utilities Staff, Doty has administered 75 million in CARES Act broadband infrastructure funding, and most recently applied for and received a 32-million-dollar federal Broadband Infrastructure Grant for projects in 10 Counties providing connectivity to over 12,000 unserved households.
Doty is a graduate of Mississippi College School of Law and Mississippi University for Women.
Reeves made the announcements during a live press conference which can be watched here.