WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., introduced two bipartisan bills to help states, cities and towns spur investment in rural broadband projects.
The Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, led by Capito and co-sponsored by 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.
The Rural Broadband Investment Tax Credit Act, led by Hassan and co-sponsored by Capito, would create a federal tax credit that states and localities could direct toward rural broadband projects.
“Since launching Capito Connect in 2015, I’ve been working every angle to ensure rural areas get reliable, affordable connectivity,” Capito said. “The bills I’ve introduced with Sen. Hassan today provide additional funding revenues for communities looking to invest in rural broadband. By incentivizing buildout and expanding financing options, these bills work together to help close the digital divide in West Virginia and across rural America.”
“From innovative small businesses owners who need reliable broadband access to kids across our state who need to get online to do their schoolwork, it’s clear that more work needs to be done to ensure that rural communities in the Granite State and across the country have better broadband access,” said Hassan. “The bills that Sen. Capito and I introduced give states and localities the resources and flexibility that they need to assess and finance broadband projects in the areas that most need it.”
As part of their efforts to close the rural-urban digital divide, Capito and Hassan have partnered on efforts to expand rural broadband access. They introduced the Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act to help ensure that there is equitable wireless and broadband service in rural and urban areas, which has long been undefined.
The two senators are also cosponsors of the bipartisan Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act would push the Federal Communications Commission to improve its broadband coverage maps by directing the FCC to require more detailed coverage data from service providers, and develop a process for consumers and stakeholders to challenge the accuracy of those broadband maps.