House Republicans Broaden Access To Broadband Services For Rural Tennesseans

April 12, 2017

(NASHVILLE) — This week, House Republicans passed legislation sponsored by State Representative Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) and State Representative Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) that improves access to reliable internet services for Tennesseans living in rural communities.

House Bill 529, also known as the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, expands broadband internet services across the state — especially to rural Tennessee communities that completely lack coverage — through business investment, deregulation and education.

Coupled with the state budget, the legislation makes targeted investments through grants and tax credits that focus on the state’s underserved or unserved areas. It also permits the state’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband internet service — something they have been completely unable to do in the past.

Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the country for broadband access; thirteen percent of the state actually lacks accessibility to high speed internet. While only 2 percent of the state’s urban citizens lack access, 34 percent of rural residents per capita are without coverage, placing them at a distinct disadvantage over their city counterparts.

“Our rural communities are a critical component of our state’s economy, and this legislation enables them to grow and prosper,” said Representative Brooks. “I’m excited that Tennessee’s rural residents, including those in my district, will now have their needs for affordable and reliable internet services met, thanks to the passage of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act.”

“The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act paves the way for the residents of District 22 to have their long-standing internet service needs finally addressed,” said Representative Howell. “ I am pleased that more of my constituents will now have access to dependable broadband internet services.”

The full text of House Bill 529 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0529.pdf

Kevin Brooks serves as the Vice-Chairman of the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee. He is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules and House Insurance & Banking Committee, as well as the House Finance Ways & Means Subcommittee. Brooks lives in Cleveland and represents House District 24, which includes part of Bradley County. He can be reached by email at Rep.Kevin.Brooks@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-1350.

Dan Howell serves as the Chairman of the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittee and as the Vice-Chairman of the House Local Government Committee. He is also a member of the House Government Operations and Joint Government Operations Committee, as well as the House Local Government Subcommittee. Howell lives in Georgetown and Represents House District 22, which includes Meigs, Polk and part of Bradley Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Dan.Howell@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7799.

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