Rural Louisiana needs internet connections more than ever before. There are countless reasons why these citizens needed rural broadband before COVID-19, now those reasons are even more important.
The Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC), along with their member Louisiana electric cooperatives, have been working with lawmakers on a bill that would allow cooperatives to offer broadband to rural Louisiana. Broadband is essential to healthcare, business, and education. Electric cooperatives have always been committed to rural America. We want the flexibility to pursue meaningful solutions for the more than 21 million rural Americans who lack broadband access including Louisiana residents and businesses. Not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperatives are led by, and belong to, the communities we serve. Our member-owners and Board of Directors live in their cooperative areas here in Louisiana.
The Senate Bill 406, “The Electric Cooperative and Rural Broadband Access Law,” is an anti-competition bill that adds more restrictions for electric cooperatives to only allow them to serve unserved areas. It also makes Louisiana the most restrictive state out of states that have clarified legal authority of the electric cooperatives to provide broadband. Competition is good for a free market.
Currently, ALEC is respectfully requesting Governor John Bel Edwards to veto this legislation that does not support expansion of broadband in rural Louisiana but rather restricts it. Currently, Louisiana’s electric cooperatives are not restricted from providing broadband in Louisiana.
“Just because our members live in rural Louisiana does not mean they should not be able to enjoy the technology citizens in densely populated urban areas enjoy,” stated Jeff Arnold, ALEC CEO. Originally, Senate Bill 406 was intended to help provide rural broadband access across Louisiana. However, special interest groups used this bill as a tool to restrict any broadband providers who wish to use our electric cooperative’s infrastructure. If this bill passes, it will restrict competition for rural broadband. SB 406 would likely put electric cooperatives at risk for increased litigation.
Cooperative members and concerned citizens can sign the petition requesting the Governor to Veto SB 406 by clicking here. Tell the Governor, Louisiana does not need more lawsuits!