Thursday, September 9, 2021

Representative Pease Named To Broadband Equity Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has selected State Representative Kelly Pease (R-Westfield) to serve on a special legislative commission that will study equity and access issues related to telecommunications services in Massachusetts.

Created as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 state budget, the Broadband Equity Commission has been tasked with developing recommendations “to address inequity and the digital divide for students and families with limited access to telecommunications services,” with a particular emphasis on assisting low-income communities, rural communities and communities of color. The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting on September 9.

“The increased use of remote and hybrid learning during the pandemic has underscored the disparities in broadband access that exist throughout the Commonwealth,” said Representative Jones. “I am confident that Kelly will play an active role in helping the commission identify ways to address those disparities and ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth have access to this technology.”

As part of its work, the commission will identify obstacles that hinder efforts by the state and local communities to improve their telecommunications infrastructure and access. The commission will also review available federal funding sources, including grant opportunities, that can be used to improve telecommunications access in Massachusetts.

Joining Pease on the commission are several legislators, as well as representatives from the Executive Office of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The commission also includes representatives from Latinos for Education, Inc.; the Massachusetts Broadband Institute; the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, Inc.; the Massachusetts Municipal Association, Inc.; the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Inc.; the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Inc.; the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Inc.; the Massachusetts Teachers Association; the New England Cable & Telecommunications Association, Inc.; and the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts. 

First elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in November of 2020, Pease is the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and is also a member of the Joint Committees on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets; Education; and Veterans and Federal Affairs.

In addition to the Broadband Equity Commission, Pease also serves as a member of the state’s PFAS Interagency Task Force, which is currently developing response plan strategies, exploring various treatment and disposal options, and assessing how state agencies can reduce or eliminate the risks associated with water and ground contamination caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The task force is expected to release its findings and recommendations by December 31.