Colorado Voters Approve Local Authority for Broadband

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – In a truly nonpartisan fashion, voters in five cities and three counties approved ballot measures that restored local authority to build fiber networks. Though Democrats overwhelmingly won in Boulder and Republicans crushed their rivals in Yuma County, roughly three out of four ballots cast supported local authority for local governments to build and partner for better Internet access.

“This is an incredible mandate for local authority,” says Christopher Mitchell with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “From the most conservative communities to the most progressive, a stunning majority believe decisions about municipal fiber networks should be made locally.”

Restoring Local Authority

Colorado is one of nineteen states that limit local authority build networks. But the 2005 law has an opt-out for communities that pass a referendum to restore local authority. Many communities have exercised this right in recent years, including Longmont, Centennial, and Montrose.

The future of municipal networks at the national level may be more doubtful. With Congress firmly in the hands of the Republican Party, it is unclear whether they will take steps to further limit local authority in these matters. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has opposed local authority on these matters, in favor of states being free to limit competition.

Though Democrats in Congress and Democratic appointees on the Federal Communications Commission have led the effort to restore local authority on municipal broadband, Mitchell believes the issue transcends party lines. “Our research has shown that most municipal networks are in areas that vote Republican. The results in Colorado only reinforce how out of touch some national elected officials are with the grassroots on these matters.”

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