Find Posts By Topic

Key Digital Equity Resolutions Passed by US Conference of Mayors

Seven men sitting at a long table wearing suits to give a presentation.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell (far left) looks on as Interim Chief Technology Officer Jim Loter (fourth person in from the left of those sitting at the table) speaks about Seattle’s Approach to Generative AI on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at the US Conference of Mayors conference. Photo by Jamie Housen.

By Jim Loter, Interim Chief Technology Officer, Seattle Information Technology

At the 91st meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend, Mayor Bruce Harrell’s Technology and Innovation Committee approved a number of important resolutions that were adopted by the organization. Two of these resolutions are particularly important for Seattle’s efforts to achieve our digital equity goals.

The Resolution Opposing H.R. 3557, the American Broadband Act of 2023 was introduced by Mayor Harrell on behalf of sponsor Eugene, Oregon Mayor Lucy K. Vinis. This resolution urges the US House and Senate not to pass an act that would pre-empt local governments’ rights-of-way compensation and management authority, zoning powers, cable franchising authority, and property rights. The City of Seattle has a history of supporting and partnering with internet service providers, allowing us to become one of the most connected cities in America. This work has been done within a local regulatory framework designed to ensure that Internet Service Providers (ISP) are meeting their obligations to serve residents in a fair and equitable manner. This Act, which was introduced to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce with little notice and without full text on May 22, 2023, would grant broadband providers an unprecedented level of access to local public property without any obligations to serve residents who are currently limited in access to broadband service. This bill is an unnecessary usurpation of local authority that would make it more difficult to achieve our connectivity and digital equity goals.

The resolution Supporting the Renewal and Extension of the Affordable Connectivity Program, introduced by Mayor Harrell, urges Congress to renew and extend the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) funding in 2024 to ensure that currently enrolled ACP low-income households continue to have access to affordable high-speed internet. The ACP has been one of the most effective broadband benefit programs to date. It is structured as a direct-to-consumer model so that low-income households can afford the internet connections they need for work, school, healthcare, and more. To date, Seattle IT’s Internet for All Seattle program has facilitated the enrollment of over 28,000 Seattle households into the ACP, which has provided over $6.4 million to offset the cost of home internet for our most vulnerable residents.

Following the Technology and Innovation Committee’s vote on June 3, 2023, the full US Conference of Mayors adopted these resolutions on June 5, 2023.

Seattle IT expresses thanks to Mayor Harrell, the Technology and Innovation Committee, and the US Conference of Mayors for their support on these critical matters related to equitably expanding affordable broadband access in our community.

The full list of resolutions passed by the Technology and Innovation Committee, as well as adopted by the US Conference of Mayors, can be found on the US Conference of Mayors website.