Hoosiers will soon have a new place to report certain Internet issues

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Hoosiers can soon send reports of insufficient Internet speeds right to state officials.

Legislation signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb this week establishes several expansion opportunities for broadband in the Hoosier state.

The legislation establishes the Indiana Broadband Connectivity Program, under which the office must establish a public broadband portal for people to report if minimum broadband Internet is unavailable at their residence or business.

Minimum broadband Internet is defined in the legislation as “a connection to the Internet at an actual speed of at least 25 megabits per second downstream and at least three megabits per second upstream.

The legislation would also expand the eligibility for broadband projects to be funded through the Rural Broadband Fund, with a focus on increasing Internet access in places where students need to use the Internet for educational purposes.

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Another bill signed into law by Gov. Holcomb this week creates requirements for telehealth services, which became popular during the height of the COVID pandemic.

Many healthcare providers have said they will continue offering telehealth service options.

The legislation requires telehealth visits to have the same standards for care as any in-person visit. Language in the law also stops an employer from requiring a provider gives a service through telehealth if the provider believes the same level of care will not be able to be given.

Any telehealth services regarding abortions are not allowed under the legislation, including the writing of any prescriptions that have the purpose of resulting in an abortion.

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Religious activities are now deemed essential, according to legislation signed by Gov. Holcomb on the final official day of the session.

State and local governments won’t be able to restrict religious services during a pandemic any more than other essential services are restricted.

Religious organizations will comply with neutral health, safety and occupancy requirements as long as they fall under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law.

Many religious organizations in the area halted in-person services during the height of the pandemic, and are still abiding by COVID protocols like mask-wearing and social distancing.

The legislative session is officially over as of Thursday, but Gov. Holcomb still has until April 29 to sign the remaining bills brought to him for final consideration.

For a full list of those bills, you can visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website.

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