MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama State Senate took a major step toward broadband expansion today by passing Senator Clay Scofield’s (R – Guntersville) Alabama Rural Broadband Act. Senate Bill 253 is a free-market approach to increasing private investment to build high-speed internet access across the state.
“When people think about infrastructure, it’s traditionally just roads and bridges. In our digital age, broadband is equally important,” explained Senator Scofield. “This bill sets up rural Alabama for further growth and prosperity.”
SB253 amends the Alabama Renewal Act to provide a 10% investment tax credit and ad valorem, sales, and use tax exemption on investment in qualified broadband telecommunications network facilities in rural areas of Alabama. It caps the credit at $750,000 if the internet speeds are at least 10 megabits per second of download speed and 1 megabit per second of upload speed. Likewise, the credit is limited to $1,400,000 for speeds of at least 25 megabits per second of download speed and 3 megabits per second of upload speed. The incentives will expire in fiscal year 2025.
“Seventy years ago, co-ops and private companies invested in bringing electricity to the country, improving life and creating jobs for millions. It’s my hope that this legislation will spur the same expansion with the internet to all those same households and businesses,” added Scofield.
The World Bank commissioned a study several years ago that showed a 10% increase in broadband penetration could increase economic growth by 1.2%. It also stated that doubling broadband speeds can add 0.3% to GDP growth.
“We’ve done a good job of making sure Alabama’s schools have high-speed internet, but we have to make sure those same students have access to adequate internet service outside of school,” Scofield argued. “Maybe a student from a rural home becomes intrigued by an elementary chemistry class, and wants to study outside of the classroom to prepare for a career as a chemical engineer – that can only happen if we smartly incentivize the free market to provide better internet access in rural counties.”
Scofield’s bill now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration.
Clay Scofield is a third generation farmer and represents District 9 in the Alabama Senate, which is comprised of all or parts of Marshall, Blount, DeKalb, and Madison Counties. He is Chairman of the Senate Confirmations Committee.