(1) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all federal, state, and local government funding for broadband infrastructure and services in Nebraska be leveraged strategically to ensure that all Nebraskans have access to affordable, reliable broadband services before January 1, 2028. To accomplish this intent, the Nebraska Broadband Office is created. The office shall be headed by the Director of Broadband. The director shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor with the approval of a majority of the Legislature. For administrative and budgetary purposes, the Nebraska Broadband Office shall be located in the Department of Transportation. All administrative and budgetary decisions for the Nebraska Broadband Office shall be made by the Director of Broadband.
(2) The Nebraska Broadband Office shall:
(a) Through active outreach, collaborate with officials at all levels of government and with stakeholders, which may include, but not be limited to, businesses and industries, community foundations, local governments, local or regional economic development organizations, schools, colleges, other educational entities, public libraries, health care institutions, financial institutions, agricultural producers, telecommunications providers, public power districts, electric cooperatives, nonprofit organizations, and other interested entities;
(b) Through such collaboration, develop a strategic plan that maximizes the use of public and private resources and encourages innovative models for ownership of infrastructure that is used for both private and public purposes;
(c) Direct the coordination among state agencies, boards, and commissions on policy matters affecting use of federal or state funding for broadband infrastructure deployment, operation, and maintenance;
(d) Conduct state advocacy on broadband issues at the federal level, including the accuracy of federal mapping and speed data;
(e) Ensure that all governmental funding is utilized in a cost-effective and accountable manner for Nebraska broadband projects;
(f) Oversee the coordination of programs for broadband users, such as libraries and schools, and digital equity and inclusion projects;
(g) Provide resources and assistance for local and regional broadband planning; and
(h) Provide resources and information to the public through a website and other communication modes.
(3) If any final decision of the Nebraska Broadband Office relating to funding for broadband projects is appealed to district court, the appeal shall take precedence on the trial docket over all other cases and shall be assigned for hearing, trial, or argument at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.
(4)(a) On or before December 1 of each year, the Nebraska Broadband Office shall file with the Clerk of the Legislature an annual report on the status of broadband within the State of Nebraska. The report shall:
(i) Describe the status of all publicly administered broadband deployment programs, including the number of projects funded through October of the report year;
(ii) Describe the quality of broadband service being provided to Nebraska residents;
(iii) Provide any updates to the strategic plan developed under subdivision (2)(b) of this section;
(iv) Summarize the Nebraska Broadband Office's outreach efforts and collaboration with all interested stakeholders;
(v) Provide an update on efforts to promote digital equity and inclusion on behalf of Nebraska residents; and
(vi) Provide an update on state advocacy on broadband issues being conducted at the federal level.
(b) Upon receipt of such report, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee of the Legislature shall hold a public hearing to allow an opportunity for public comment on the report.