Omnibus Budget Loaded With Internet Goodies

Omnibus Budget Loaded With Internet Goodies

By John Makulowich

A host of Internet-related items are buried in the nearly 4,000-page text of the $500 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1999.

Signed into law by President Clinton Oct. 21, the law includes:

A provision calling for the establishment of the Advisory Committee on Electronic Commerce. This committee will be composed of 19 appointed members: three from the federal government, eight from state and local governments, and eight from the electronic commerce industry, telecommunications carriers, local retail businesses and consumer groups.

The federal members will be the secretaries of commerce and the treasury and the U.S. trade representative. The industry representatives will be chosen by the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate. The commission's term will last for 18 months from the day the act is signed into law.

Internet Tax Freedom Act. Under this law, no state or local government can impose certain Internet-related taxes for three years. It also sets a moratorium on new taxes for Internet access and electronic commerce.

A line item for $1 million to develop a system to electronically submit reports required under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. The system also would include a computer database of the reports that is indexed and easily searchable by the public via the Internet.

Funding for a truckload of state education initiatives. The most expensive item is $8 million to expand the Iowa Communications Network statewide fiber optic demonstration project.

Other funded programs include $350,000 for multimedia classrooms for the rural education technology center at the Western Montana College in Dillon, Mont., and $2.5 million to set up the RUNet 2000 project at Rutgers State University in New Jersey. Another $500,000 was earmarked for state-of-the-art information technology systems at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania; $1 million for professional development for technology training at the Krell Institute, Ames,Iowa; and $850,000 for the Internet-based curriculum at the Alaska Department of Education.

And the list goes on: $2 million for a Magnet E-School technology training and curriculum initiative at the Hawaii Department of Education; $600,000 for a technology-in-the-classroom pilot program for the Green Bay Public School System, Green Bay, Wis.; $250,000 for the Passport to Chicago Community Network technology training project; $1.2 million for LEARN North Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; $1.5 million for the Iowa Department of Education for community college grants to low-income schools for technology; and $1 million for the NetDay organization to assist schools in connecting K-12 classrooms to the Internet.


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