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Gov. Dunleavy signs bill increasing internet speeds at many Alaska public schools

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.
James Brooks
Alaska Beacon
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

On March 27, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed a bill that promises to raise the internet speed at dozens of public schools, mostly in rural Alaska.

House Bill 193 increases the state funding match for a federal grant program that pays for internet access. Before the change, the state would match only the amount needed to pay for service at 25 megabits per second. HB 193 says the state will pay for the match needed to provide 100 megabits per second.

The change is expected to cost up to $40 million per year.

During legislative hearings, school administrators testified that the old limit was inadequate and sometimes required them to shut off the internet to parts of their schools so that other students could take online tests.

HB 193 advanced rapidly through the House and Senate this month after the failure of a multipart education funding bill known as Senate Bill 140. That measure included the internet increase among other components, but Dunleavy vetoed the prior bill and lawmakers failed to override the veto.

That left legislators hurrying to pass a standalone billin order to meet a March 27 federal deadline for schools to make choices on their internet service for the 2024-2025 school year.

They met that deadline, and Dunleavy signed HB 193 into law on the morning of the deadline.

“We got it done in the nick of time, and thanks to everyone in the Legislature and the governor for signing the bill,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, who sponsored the bill on the House floor.

James Brooks | Alaska Beacon
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