Rural Broadband Bill Passes Senate
Farmers and rural residents may soon have an on-ramp to the information superhighway, thanks the Alabama Senate’s unanimous passage of the Alabama Rural Broadband Act Thursday.
SB 149 by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill, would provide income tax credits and other tax exemptions for companies investing in the expansion of high-speed internet into rural and underserved areas. The measure passed by a vote of 29-0 and now heads to a House of Representatives committee for consideration.
Under the bill, income tax credits would be limited to $750,000 per taxpayer for facilities capable of supporting download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second and upload speeds of 1 megabit per second. Companies investing in networks capable of at least 25 megabits download and 3 megabits upload could qualify for up to $1.4 million in credits. Total tax credits in any one year could not exceed $20 million with $18 million designated for projects in rural areas.
The legislation also establishes the Alabama Rural Broadband Oversight Committee and excludes broadband facilities funded through the Connect America Fund, administered by the Federal Communications Commission.
Federation members are encouraged to contact their state representatives and urge them to support SB 149.
Meanwhile, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is applauding the introduction of federal legislation aimed at expanding broadband access. The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, which was introduced last week in the U.S. House and Senate, would facilitate the deployment of broadband internet across rural America where broadband connectivity is increasingly essential for production agriculture.
“Bringing together the Agriculture Department, the Federal Communications Commission and public and private stakeholders to address the needs of precision agriculture ensures current and future generations of farmers and ranchers will have the necessary connectivity to achieve optimal yields, lower environmental impact and maximize profit,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.