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Governor Haslam expected to sign Broadband Accessibility Act

The bill, proposed by the governor, would increase access to broadband connection for Tennessee's most underserved residents. 

Lawmakers at Tennessee's capitol in Nashville are trying to decide how to spend a one billion dollar surplus.

Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

The legislature is one of the governor's signature pieces of legislation from the 2017 legislative session. It's part of Gov. Haslam's NextTennessee legislative plan, which aims to build and sustain economic growth for the state's next generation.

The act will increase broadband access the state's unserved citizens by providing $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for providers who help make broadband more readily available. It will also permit Tennessee's private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service and grant funding.

Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the United States for broadband access. 34 percent of rural residents lack access to recognized minimum standards of connection.

Approved in early April by both the state Senate and House of Representatives, The bill is now in the Governor's hands. He's expected to sign the legislation into law at a ceremony at H&R Agri-Power in Brownsville, Tennessee, at 1:30 p.m. That ceremony will be followed by a meeting of Gov. Haslam's Rural Development Task Force.