AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate has signed off on a proposal to try to expand broadband coverage in rural parts of the state.

The proposal from Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellows of Manchester would make changes to ConnectME, a public authority tasked with facilitating the availability of broadband.

One of the changes would require the authority to collect data annually from providers so it can better accomplish its goals.

The changes to ConnectME would also change its planning grant structure to allow more flexibility. It would also be renamed ConnectMaine.

The proposal passed the Senate on Tuesday and will face votes in the Maine House of Representatives.

Bellows said the changes would “make it easier for communities to secure planning grants for broadband, and simpler to identify where in Maine we need to invest to ensure no one gets left out of access to reliable, high-speed internet.”

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