February 03, 2020

Senators link up across the aisle to lay digital foundation in rural America

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are working together on bipartisan bills to help states, cities, and towns spur investment in rural broadband projects. The bills complement ongoing efforts in New Hampshire to provide local governments with innovative financing options for broadband projects, giving states and localities additional resources to invest in rural broadband.

 

The Rural Broadband Investment Tax Credit Act, led by Senator Hassan and cosponsored by Senator Capito, would create a federal tax credit that states and localities could direct toward rural broadband projects. The Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, led by Senator Capito and cosponsored by Senator Hassan, would allow state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance public-private rural broadband projects, and allow the federal government to assist state and local governments in bond payments. 

 

WCAX Channel 3 News ran a piece highlighting their bipartisan work and the efforts to expand broadband access in Bristol, NH. You can watch the segment here, or read highlights from the piece below:

 

WCAX Channel 3: Senators link up across the aisle to lay digital foundation in rural America

By Kyle Midura

 

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Many rural communities are banking their future on technology, to bring big city opportunity to their small towns. But, those areas are also struggling to get the biggest companies to buy into their plans.

 

Nestled along the spine of the White Mountains - the small town of Bristol, N.H is making a big bet on its future. The 3,000-person town's annual budget is about $700,000 a year, but leaders there are prepared to borrow several million to build-out high-speed cell and internet connections over the coming years.

"What we decided to do is take our fate into our own hands," explains Town Administrator Nic Coates.

 

[…]Two bills in the Senate may help with the dollars and cent, and be the small boost communities like Bristol need to finally connect with a company or afford to go it alone.

 

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) frequently link up across the aisle to work on rural broadband issues. Their latest joint efforts propose:

  • New tax credits for companies that invest in disconnected rural areas
  • And new borrowing options for towns and cities teaming up with companies.

 

"This is about our rural economy, and the quality of life that rural Americans enjoy," said Hassan, "and it's really increasingly obvious that everybody has to have access."

 

Projects will need to meet minimum speeds to cash in, but how that's accomplished would be left up to the locals. "I want reliable service, hardy service," said Capito while noting she doesn't care how that's achieved, "I am agnostic as to the technology."

 

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