NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today signed the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, creating grant funding and removing legal restrictions to allow the state’s private, member-owned electric cooperatives to provide high-speed internet service to co-op members. David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, made the following statement.

“Access to high-speed internet is critical to Tennessee’s rural communities, and we appreciate the faith that Gov. Haslam and the General Assembly have placed in the electric co-ops. Gov. Haslam’s signature today means that our work is just beginning. Tennessee’s electric co-ops have been asked to bring broadband to rural Tennessee. This is a massive task, but co-ops have a legacy of improving everyday life in our communities. We are excited about the opportunities created by the Broadband Accessibility Act.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit or to learn more.


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Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy | 615.515.5534 | [email protected]

The Legislature continues its work for this year’s session, and is beginning to make some headway in considering the thousands of pieces of Legislation that have been filed. Some committees are beginning the process of ending their work for the year, which typically signals the beginning of the end for the General Assembly. Over the next week or two, the number of bills will shrink considerably and the work required to develop a budget for the State will take priority. Adjournment for the year is expected at the end of April.

This year, TECA is working to influence over 60 different pieces of legislation. First among our priorities is Governor Haslam’s bill to address the lack of high-speed internet access, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act. This legislation is the culmination of two years worth of study and consideration by the Governor, his staff, and multiple state agencies. Following the conclusions of these studies, Governor Haslam and his administration developed a piece of legislation that would do three things: allow electric cooperative to become retail providers of broadband services, provide financial incentives (through grants and tax credits) for providers to extend service into unserved areas, and improve adoption of broadband service through educational efforts. The original version of the legislation was changed slightly, through an amendment, prepared by the Governor and his staff. This amendment broadened cooperative authorization to included television and video services, and restricted the provision of co-op internet and TV to the co-op’s service territory.

Both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Business and Utilities Committee have heard the legislation, and have both voted unanimously to pass it. In general, these are the most difficult hurdles for any piece of legislation to overcome.  In the coming weeks, the bill will be considered by both the House and Senate Finance Committees before they could be heard by the full House and Senate. It is TECA’s expectation that the bill will ultimately pass, and will become law upon the Governor’s signature. If you have not had the opportunity to communicate with your own lawmaker, please visit and send a message to let your lawmaker know your feelings.

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