Sally Doty will serve as the new office’s director.

Governor Tate Reeves held a ceremonial bill signing on Wednesday for House Bill 1029, the Broadband Expansion & Accessibility for Mississippi (BEAM) Act. Authored by State Representative Scott Bounds, the legislation creates the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi.

Governor Reeves also announced his pick to serve as the office’s director, Sally Doty, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the 

“I want to thank Governor Reeves for this opportunity and I’m really humble and just honored to take on this responsibility for the state of Mississippi,” Doty said.

Reeves said a replacement for Doty will be considered and announced at a later date.

Through HB 1029, the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM) will serve as the state broadband office to review applications and make determinations and awards for projects to provide broadband access in unserved or underserved areas using the BEAM Fund.

BEAM will be responsible for:

  • Coordinating all broadband expansion and accessibility efforts on behalf of the state to ensure an effective and efficient use of broadband grant funds;
  • Developing the plan and application for federal grant programs and for sub-grantees to receive funds from said federal grants;
  • Developing rules and procedures, if necessary and in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, to implement a competitive statewide broadband grant program;
  • Coordinating all information provided by broadband service providers, including all broadband mapping efforts for the state;
  • Apply for and receive federal grants or funds, including, but not limited to, Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund established by Section 604 of the Social Security Act, as added by Section 9901 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, and all other federal broadband grant programs and any state support grant programs.

The legislation also states that before the distribution of any grant monies from the BEAM Fund, BEAM shall notify the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Legislative Budget Office of the planned distribution.

“Today is an exciting day ladies and gentlemen,” Speaker Philip Gunn said. “We all realize the necessity of this…we have got to have the ability to connect… The bill that we have put forward is a great step in the right direction.”

Rep. Bounds noted that through this legislation, the state will be able to connect Mississippi. Bounds applauded the “good teamwork” with State Senator Joel Carter to get HB 1029 sent to the Governor’s desk.

“The unserved and underserved areas of broadband access should benefit greatly from the BEAM!” Bounds said.

“When you work together, you can overcome all obstacles,” Senator Carter said.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker also attended the bill signing, highlighting federal coordination that helped this investment in Mississippi to be funded. He committed to helping the new office in navigating the federal waters.

You can read a full copy of House Bill 1029 below.

Mississippi House Bill 1029 by yallpolitics on Scribd