OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, and State Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds, were elected co-chairs during the first meeting of Oklahoma’s Rural Broadband Expansion Council, which was held virtually on Wednesday.
The council was created through House Bill 4018, the Rural Broadband Expansion Act. Leewright was principal Senate author of the legislation and Phillips was principal House author, with the goal of improving broadband access throughout rural Oklahoma. The state is ranked 47th in the nation for rural broadband access.
Leewright, who chairs the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee, said this organizational meeting helped to articulate goals, as well as discuss the agenda for the council’s next meeting.
“Until now, the issue of improving rural broadband access has been addressed piecemeal. We need a comprehensive, long-term approach, and we want the private sector to drive the conversation. This council will also focus on the effective use of public and private resources—we’ll be looking at the best use of federal, state, local and tribal resources,” Leewright said. “It’s also important that our efforts are tied to the legislative process. Efforts in the past have not been tied to the legislative process and have not been successful—we must ensure we succeed.”
Phillips, an assistant professor of information technology at Tulsa Community College, is organizing the agenda for the council’s next meeting.
“Today’s meeting was all about setting the foundations for rural broadband expansion going forward in the state of Oklahoma,” Phillips said. “I’m thankful to take this initial step in getting rural broadband where it’s needed with speed and efficiency.”