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Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday, May 16, participated in a ceremonial signing of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, legislation that will expand broadband access in rural Tennessee by allowing electric cooperatives to provide retail service to co-op members.

“Electric co-ops are the natural partners to do this because of their nature,” said Haslam. “They are non-profit, they are already out serving many of these communities, and I think the people in our state trust the electric co-ops to provide that role. We are proud to have the electric co-ops to be our partners in this effort.”

 

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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 tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION
Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy | 615.515.5534 | tscott@tnelectric.org

NASHVILLE – Today the Tennessee Senate passed the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act by a vote of 31-0.

There was no significant debate, however there were a number of clarifying questions that were asked by Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis. In answering those questions, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville once again presented an excellent defense of the legislation, eloquently discussing the cooperative business model and the advantages it brings to Tennessee’s rural communities.

“Their DNA, their birth, was to serve the rural areas of the state,” said Sen. Bell. “Taking that same model and applying it to broadband… is going to end the broadband problem we have in rural areas of the state.”

The companion legislation continues to move through the House. The House Finance Committee will hear the bill Tues., April 4 at 1:30 p.m., and assuming passage, the legislation will be sent to the House Calendar and Rules Committee later in the week. TECA expects the full House to hear the bill as early as next week.

You can view the discussion and vote in the Tennessee Senate below.

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 takeactiontn.com and send a message to let your lawmaker know your feelings.

To follow TECA’s legislative work more closely, make sure that you’ve signed up for our weekly update on politics and government – View from the Hill. To add your name to the subscription list, click here.

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act passed the the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee today on an unanimous vote. Leader Norris and Sen. Mike Bell presented the bill on behalf of the Governor Haslam. The bill was passed with an amendment that would allow electric co-ops to provide television and phone service in addition to high-speed internet.

The bill and an identical amendment was passed by the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 7.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the full House Business and Utilities Committee next week.

You can learn more about the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act and encourage your legislator to support this important bill at takeactionTN.com.

 

NASHVILLE – Members of the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee today passed the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act (H.B. 0529) on a unanimous vote. The legislation now moves on to the full committee for consideration on Wednesday, March 15.

“The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act is an important step to expand access to high-speed internet in rural Tennessee,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “This legislation will not only help areas with the greatest need for high-speed internet, but it will also create jobs and improve access to education and healthcare.”

“We thank Rep. David Hawk for his sponsorship and the committee for supporting this legislation and rural Tennessee.”

The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act removes restrictions that currently prevent electric cooperatives from providing retail internet access. More than 800,000 Tennesseans, many of which live in areas served by electric co-ops, do not have access to high-speed internet.

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

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FOR MORE INFORMATION
Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy
615.515.5534 | tscott@tnelectric.org

[NASHVILLE] – Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association CEO David Callis issued the following statement on the introduction of HB 0529 and SB 1215 earlier this week.

“Rural and suburban Tennessee have a great need for expanded high speed internet access, and electric co-ops are pleased to see the introduction of legislation this week that would allow co-ops to provide broadband to our members. We appreciate Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. David Hawk for sponsoring bills in their respective chambers, and we encourage members of the General Assembly to support this important legislation.”

Co-ops members are encouraged to visit takeactionTN.com to send a message to their legislators to encourage them to support the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act.

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

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Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy
Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association
tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519

NASHVILLE, July 19, 2016 – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are encouraged by the findings and recommendations released earlier today by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development concerning broadband availability across the state.

The report states that current regulatory barriers restrict investment and competition, specifically mentioning a law that prevents the state’s member-owned electric cooperatives from providing broadband access. Electric cooperatives serve 71 percent of the state’s landmass, including a majority of the rural and economically disadvantaged regions identified in the study as areas of greatest need.

“Limited access to broadband has serious consequences for rural Tennessee, and co-ops are uniquely positioned to provide real solutions,” says David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Co-ops have a legacy of expanding critical services beyond the city limits. A generation ago, the issue was power; today it is broadband. “

“Tennessee’s electric cooperatives appreciate Governor Haslam and Commissioner Boyd for their leadership on this important issue,“ says Callis. “This study should serve as a roadmap to the legislature to remove restrictions and foster competition. Co-ops are committed to working with the state to identify real solutions that will benefit rural and suburban Tennessee.”

A copy of the report is available here.

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

 

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Contact:
Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy | tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519