Future of Szoka’s BRIGHT Futures Act isn’t so bright

Republican Representative John Szoka had high hopes for the future of his BRIGHT Futures Act. He nearly promised it would pass to a (sparsely attended) town hall in a rural part of Cumberland county. 

“When it passes and the Governor signs it.”

Szoka’s confidence that a bill stuck in Senate committee since April would pass aside, this bill did not make it to Governor Cooper’s desk this session.

All the stakeholders Szoka listed at this town hall and the bill’s high level of support in the House (only 8 members, all Republicans, voted against it) didn’t give the BRIGHT Futures Act enough momentum to make it out of Senate Rules. Apparently, the businesses “lined up waiting for the bill to pass” did not have enough pull to get Senators Rabon and Berger to move the bill along this session.

Was Szoka simply making a promise he couldn’t keep or do Republicans truly not care about the future of rural North Carolina? 

In both chambers, Republicans voted down budget amendments that would have appropriated funds for rural broadband grants. Szoka voted against the amendment in the House.

One thing is for sure, if we can’t connect last mile towns and counties, jobs will remain as elusive as a strong internet signal and people will continue to leave rural NC.