WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), today reintroduced the Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, bipartisan legislation to help states, cities, and towns spur investment in rural broadband projects. This bill will provide state and local governments with innovative financing options for broadband projects, giving states and localities access to additional tools to invest in rural broadband. Specifically, this legislation would allow state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance rural broadband projects, including public private partnerships, as well as allow the federal government to assist state and local governments in bond payments. In addition, it 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 pursuing every angle to ensure rural areas get reliable, affordable connectivity,” Senator Capito said. “This legislation will provide additional funding opportunities for communities looking to invest in rural broadband. I’m proud to team up with Senator Hassan again to reintroduce this legislation that will help close the digital divide in West Virginia and across rural America by incentivizing buildout and expanding financing options.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made even more clear that Granite State families and small businesses need fast and reliable internet access to succeed in today’s economy,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill would provide rural communities in New Hampshire with new financing options to expand their broadband infrastructure so that every household can get connected.”  

As part of their efforts to close the rural-urban digital divide, Senators Capito and Hassan have partnered across the aisle on efforts to expand rural broadband access. They recently reintroduced 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 also cosponsored the bipartisan Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which was signed into law last year. The bill pushes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 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.

A one pager of the Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act is available here.

To read the section-by-section, click here

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