The Vermont Statutes Online
Chapter 005 : STATE POLICY; PLANS; JURISDICTION AND REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF COMMISSION AND DEPARTMENT
Subchapter 001 : GENERAL POWERS(Cite as: 30 V.S.A. § 202f)
§ 202f. Telecommunications and Connectivity Advisory Board
(a) There is created the Telecommunications and Connectivity Advisory Board for the purpose of making recommendations to the Commissioner of Public Service regarding his or her telecommunications responsibilities and duties as provided in this section. The Connectivity Advisory Board shall consist of eight members selected as follows:
(1) the State Treasurer or designee;
(2) the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development or designee;
(3) five at-large members appointed by the Governor, who shall not be employees or officers of the State at the time of appointment; and
(4) the Secretary of Transportation or designee.
(b) A quorum of the Connectivity Advisory Board shall consist of four voting members. No action of the Board shall be considered valid unless the action is supported by a majority vote of the members present and voting and then only if at least four members vote in favor of the action. The Governor shall select, from among the at-large members, a chair and vice chair.
(c) In making appointments of at-large members, the Governor shall give consideration to citizens of the State with knowledge of telecommunications technology, telecommunications regulatory law, transportation rights-of-way and infrastructure, finance, environmental permitting, and expertise regarding the delivery of telecommunications services in rural, high-cost areas. However, the five at-large members may not be persons with a financial interest in or owners or employees of an enterprise that provides broadband or cellular service or that is seeking in-kind or financial support from the Department of Public Service. The conflict of interest provision in this subsection shall not be construed to disqualify a member who has ownership in a mutual fund, exchange traded fund, pension plan, or similar entity that owns shares in such enterprises as part of a broadly diversified portfolio. The at-large members shall serve terms of two years beginning on February 1 in odd-numbered years and until their successors are appointed and qualified. However, three of the five at-large members first appointed by the Governor shall serve an initial term of three years. Vacancies shall be filled for the balance of the unexpired term. A member may be reappointed for up to three consecutive terms. Upon completion of a term of service for any reason, including the term's expiration or a member's resignation, and for one year from the date of such completion, a former Board member shall not advocate before the Connectivity Board, Department of Public Service, or the Public Utility Commission on behalf of an enterprise that provides broadband or cellular service.
(d) Except for those members otherwise regularly employed by the State, the compensation of the Board's members is that provided by 32 V.S.A. § 1010(a). All members of the Board, including those members otherwise regularly employed by the State, shall receive their actual and necessary expenses when away from home or office upon their official duties.
(e) In performing its duties, the Connectivity Advisory Board may use the legal and technical resources of the Department of Public Service. The Department of Public Service shall provide the Board with administrative services.
(f) The Connectivity Advisory Board shall:
(1) have review and nonbinding approval authority with respect to the awarding of grants under the Connectivity Initiative. The Commissioner shall have sole authority to make the final decision on grant awards, as provided in subsection (g) of this section.
(2) function in an advisory capacity to the Commissioner on the development of State telecommunications policy and planning, including the action plan required under subdivision 202e(b)(6) of this chapter and the State Telecommunications Plan.
(3) annually advise the Commissioner on the development of requests for proposals under the Connectivity Initiative.
(4) annually provide the Commissioner with recommendations for the apportionment of funds to the High-Cost Program and the Connectivity Initiative.
(5) annually provide the Commissioner with recommendations on the appropriate Internet access speeds for publicly funded telecommunications and connectivity projects.
(g) The Commissioner shall make an initial determination as to whether a proposal submitted under the Connectivity Initiative meets the criteria of the request for proposals. The Commissioner shall then provide the Connectivity Advisory Board a list of all eligible proposals and recommendations. The Connectivity Advisory Board shall review the recommendations of the Commissioner and may review any proposal submitted, as it deems necessary, and either approve or disapprove each recommendation and may make new recommendations for the Commissioner's final consideration. The Commissioner shall have final decision-making authority with respect to the awarding of grants under the Connectivity Initiative. If the Commissioner does not accept a recommendation of the Board, he or she shall provide the Board with a written explanation for such decision.
(h) On November 15, 2019, and annually thereafter, the Commissioner shall submit to the Connectivity Advisory Board an accounting of monies in the Connectivity Fund and anticipated revenue for the next year.
(i) The Chair shall call the first meeting of the Connectivity Advisory Board. The Chair or a majority of Board members may call a Board meeting. The Board may meet up to six times a year.
(j) At least annually, the Connectivity Advisory Board and the Commissioner or designee shall jointly hold a public meeting to review and discuss the status of State telecommunications policy and planning, the Telecommunications Plan, the Connectivity Fund, the Connectivity Initiative, the High-Cost Program, and any other matters they deem necessary to fulfill their obligations under this section.
(k) Information and materials submitted by a telecommunications service provider concerning confidential financial or proprietary information shall be exempt from public inspection and copying under the Public Records Act, nor shall any information that would identify a provider who has submitted a proposal under the Connectivity Initiative be disclosed without the consent of the provider, unless a grant award has been made to that provider. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit the publication of statistical information, determinations, reports, opinions, or other information so long as the data are disclosed in a form that cannot identify or be associated with a particular telecommunications service provider. (Added 2015, No. 41, § 5; amended 2019, No. 31, § 7.)