Norris says filling broadband gaps should be priority for Governor, State Legislature

Posted 10 February 2021 at 1:06 pm

Press Release, Assemblyman Mike Norris

LOCKPORT – Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport) said the governor’s failure to act on signing legislation to ensure proper broadband access was available to all New Yorkers was very disappointing.

Calls from citizens about the need for expanded broadband access have been wide reaching during the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people work and learn from home, and e-commerce has become more vital for the state’s economy.

“This bipartisan legislation which was passed last year could have begun the path for many New Yorkers to gain much needed access for broadband to work and learn from home and our farms,” Norris said. “Sadly, the governor chose to ignore this bi-partisan legislation and effectively killed this bill from taking a key step in planning to provide this basic infrastructure to those who need it.”

Norris was a sponsor of the bipartisan legislation that was passed in 2020, the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act. After being passed in both houses, the bill was sent to the Governor’s Office for his signature to become law; however, after sitting untouched on his desk for over a month, the bill was killed by a measure known as a “pocket veto.” This means that because the governor chose to ignore the bill and his veto cannot be overridden by the State Legislature. The bill was particularly aimed at increasing access to broadband in rural communities and had it been acted upon by the governor, the new law would have taken effect in 13 days.

“This pocket veto by the governor is frustrating as broadband access is still extremely lacking in too many parts of our state, especially in our rural communities, but please know that I will continue to push the governor that broadband access must be a top priority in this upcoming session and budget negotiations as time is really of the essence,” Norris said.

Norris represents the 144th District, comprising parts of Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties and is the chairman of the Assembly Minority Conference.