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Ballot Measure 2H: 
Municipal Broadband


 

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A Denver Decides Ballot Issue Forum in anticipation of the general election coming up on Tuesday, November 3rd. Ballot Measure 2H reads in part: Shall the City and County of Denver, without increasing taxes by this measure, reestablish the city's right to provide all services restricted since 2005 by the Colorado General Assembly with their passage of Senate Bill 05-152, including the authority but not obligation to provide high-speed internet (advanced services), telecommunication services, and cable television services, including any new and improved high bandwidth services based on future technologies, to residents, businesses, schools, libraries, non-profit entities and other users of such services wither directly or indirectly with public or private sector partners? Denver City Councilmember Paul Kashmann, who represents District 6 on the Denver City Council speaks in favor of Ballot Measure 2H, and Raymond Gifford, who is the former Chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, speaks against the ballot measure.
 


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Ballot Measure 2H

Shall the City and County of Denver, without increasing taxes by this measure, reestablish the city’s right to provide all services restricted since 2005 by the Colorado General Assembly with their passage of Senate Bill 05-152, including the authority but not obligation to provide high-speed Internet (advanced services), telecommunication services, and cable television services, including any new and improved high bandwidth services based on future technologies, to residents, businesses, schools, libraries, non-profit entities and other users of such services either directly or indirectly with public or private sector partners, as expressly permitted by Article 27, Title 29 of the Colorado Revised Statutes?

¿Deberían la Ciudad y el Condado de Denver, sin aumentar impuestos con esta medida, restablecer el derecho de la ciudad a proporcionar todos los servicios restringidos desde 2005 por la Asamblea General de Colorado con la aprobación de la Ley del Senado 05-152, incluida la autoridad pero no la obligación de proporcionar Internet de alta velocidad (servicios avanzados), servicios de telecomunicaciones y servicios de televisión por cable, incluido cualquier servicio nuevo y mejorado de banda ancha basado en futuras tecnologías, para residentes, negocios, escuelas, bibliotecas, entidades sin fines de lucro y otros usuarios de dichos servicios, ya sea directa o indirectamente con socios del sector público o privado, como lo autoriza expresamente el Artículo 27, Titulo 29 de los Estatutos Revisados de Colorado?

Ballot Details

Where once brick and mortar libraries were the repository of the information students, businesses and individuals sought in the course of their daily pursuits, today the internet is the gateway to knowledge. With a proper connection to the digital world, and a few clicks on a phone, tablet or computer, men, women and children can quickly access an endless universe of data that once required a dogged search through card catalogues, library stacks and endless volumes in hopes of uncovering a single missing piece of data needed for a recipe, dissertation or business plan. But while the doors of our country’s libraries have always been free, and open equally to all regardless of station in life, access to the internet is not so egalitarian. Connecting to the internet comes with a financial cost. And the higher connection speeds that facilitate needed research can come with a yet higher cost. Those not sufficiently connected are at a competitive disadvantage in their education and work lives.

The U.S. Census’s American Community Survey indicates that thousands of Denver homes are still without broadband connectivity, mostly affecting traditionally underserved communities. Denver Public Schools has struggled to connect many students with on-line learning, and numerous health providers, including Mental Health Center of Denver, have had challenges connecting with clients for tel-e-health visits.

Bridging the digital divide between haves and have nots is impeded by Colorado Senate Bill 05-152, which prevents municipalities from considering all options to building that bridge. SB 152 requires that an election be held before a local government may “engage or offer to engage in providing” various telecommunication services on its own, thus stifling discussion of that option.

While much of Denver is well-served by a roster of commercial broadband providers, the remaining gaps must be filled. We do not deny some families library access and we should not deny some families internet access. It is a moral imperative. If the commercial providers cannot find a way to honor that imperative, then we must be free as a city, as a last resort, to step into the gap ourselves if that is what is required.

The vast majority of the 100+ Colorado cities and dozens of counties who have passed SB 152 questions have not been interested in hooking up homes and businesses and providing actual broadband services themselves but have sought more flexibility in negotiating with existing commercial relationships.

It is critical to understand that seeking an exemption from SB-152 does not obligate any public dollars, and does not infer city construction of broadband infrastructure. It merely enables a more complete discussion of options to solving the critical problems that disconnectedness may cause. 

No comments were filed by the deadline.