SECTION 1. Chapter 29 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 2KKKK, the following section:
(a) There is hereby established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Next Generation Network Initiative Grant Fund, hereinafter referred to as the Next Generation Grant Fund, to which shall be credited any appropriations, bond proceeds or other monies authorized by the general court and specifically designated to be credited to that fund, and any additional funds designated by the corporation for deposit into the Next Generation Grant Fund, including pension funds, federal grants or loans, or private donations made available to the Massachusetts office of information technology. The Massachusetts office of information technology shall hold the Next Generation Grant Fund in an account or accounts separate from other funds or accounts.
(b) The public purpose of the Next Generation Grant Fund shall be to issue public grants to municipalities and other public instrumentalities to research and plan for gigabit-speed networks throughout the Commonwealth, evaluation of consumer focused municipal broadband service offerings, planning and research intended to support the entrance of private market players committed to providing next generation broadband services, planning to support the creation or expansion of institutional gigabit networks, the exploration of public/private collaboration to create gigabit broadband offerings, and the creation of regional broadband partnerships. The program may be used to match other public and private funding sources to advance next generation broadband services.
(c) There shall be at least 1 open solicitation period each year to accept and consider new applications. Not less than 12 weeks before the annual open solicitation period, the Massachusetts office of information technology shall release the criteria upon which the applications shall be judged including, but not limited to, a minimum project standard, overall spending targets by project type, preferences for projects that align with the state’s broadband principles, and other preferences applying to that funding round. Grants may be made outside of the open solicitation period at the discretion of the Massachusetts office of information technology.
(d) An eligible city or town, acting by and through its municipal officers or by and through any agency designated by such municipal officers to act on their behalf, may apply to the program for a grant in a specific amount to fund a specified project. Two or more municipalities may apply jointly, with 1 municipality acting as fiscal agent, or through a regional planning agency acting as fiscal agent. Receipt of a grant which is part of a joint application shall not preclude a city or town from receiving additional funds under a separate application. The grants may be made in addition to other forms of local, state, and federal assistance.
(e) The Massachusetts office of information technology shall file a report annually with the clerks of the House of Representatives and the Senate on the activities and status of the program. The report shall include the following: (i) a list of grant recipients, (ii) the associated grant amounts, (iii) the amounts of non-state funding leveraged as a result of the grants, (iv) the purposes of the grants, (v) an annual statement of cash inflows and outflows detailing the sources and uses of funds, (vi) a forecast of future payments based on current binding obligations, and (vii) a detailed analysis of the results of each project.
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