From The Executive Director – February 8, 2017

Posted: February 7, 2017

Broadband legislation is here.

This is not a drill. Broadband legislation is happening. This is the legislative session we have been gearing up for, and now the work TTA members have been putting in for years is coming to fruition.

Forgive me if this sounds a little dramatic, but I want to use this space to make sure all our TTA members realize that after years of talking about broadband expansion in Tennessee, the governor and legislature are poised to take some major steps during this session. As you’ll read in this issue, Gov. Bill Haslam has taken a special interest in pushing for more broadband access for rural Tennesseans. “If we’re serious about putting our rural counties on a level playing field, then opening up broadband access is one of the largest steps forward we can take,” Haslam said in his State of the State address.

When the administration gets behind something like this, things start to happen quickly. Already we’ve seen action on the governor’s “Broadband Accessibility Act.”

Thankfully — and I believe due in part to the conversations led by TTA members and lobbyists — municipal providers are taking a back seat in the governor’s plans, with electric cooperatives getting much of the attention. This presents some interesting partnership opportunities for proactive TTA members.

As I look at the frenzy of activity this year’s session has seen and will continue to see, that word “proactive” still sticks in my mind. TTA has worked for years to proactively inform legislators about our positions. We’ve laid the groundwork, built the relationships and rallied supporters to our issues — but we’re not done yet. Now is the time more than ever to reach out to your legislators, public officials and customers to let them know that no one knows more about serving the communication needs of rural Tennesseans than TTA member telcos.

After all, working proactively to shape the coming legislation puts all of TTA’s members in a better position than having to react to a bill that hurts our companies and our customers.