State Senate forms Tech Caucus

By Wayne Allen

October 29, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

On Friday Ohio Senator Joe Uecker (14th District) joined officials from Connect Ohio in announcing the formation of the Ohio Broadband and Technology Caucus.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Times, Uecker said, “About 30 percent of Ohioans do not have Internet connectivity and there are various reasons for that. When I looked at the map of Ohio I saw a lot of those areas (of people who do not have Internet connectivity) happened to be in the 14th Senate District.”

He said some of the reasons people are not connected to the Internet include the lack of a computer and if they did have a computer, they would not have access to the Internet.

“Those are things a number of legislators decided we would like to work on and find out what we can to to improve that,” Uecker said. “The Internet reaches so much of our lives from health care, to education and a number of other resources that are based on the Internet.”

The mission of the Ohio Broadband and Technology Caucus is to bring together legislators from across Ohio to monitor state and federal broadband policy, build awareness, and broaden the resources available to address issues of broadband access, adoption, and use throughout Ohio.

“Part of our mission will be to uncover some of those barriers (that keep people from connecting to the Internet) and promote people being able to connect, if they so chose to,” Uecker said.

The caucus has bipartisan membership, with founding members including Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville), Representative Ryan Smith (R-93rd District), and Representative Stephen Slesnick (R-Stark).

“The goal of this Caucus is to bring together a group of statewide representatives and create a force behind broadband in Ohio,” said Stu Johnson, executive director of Connect Ohio in a released statement. “Connect Ohio’s mission to increase high-speed Internet access, adoption, and use to ensure Ohio’s competitiveness in the connected global economy directly coincides with the goals of the Caucus. We appreciate the opportunity to have Senator Uecker announce the formation of the Caucus at our Technology Association meeting and look forward to contributing our experience with broadband expansion and utilization in the state to the group’s efforts.”

Uecker acknowledged the enormity of the task before the Caucus.

“We’re going to work hand-in-hand with industry stake holders, Connect Ohio, as well as other legislators. We’re going to try to get everyone to sit down and talk about these issues and what we can do to get through these barriers,” he said.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.