Michigan House passes bill to improve rural internet access

Benz Seo

LANSING — The Michigan House on Thursday approved a bill to encourage internet companies to provide broadband access to underserved areas after the coronavirus pandemic shone a light on that need. The bill, coming from the state Senate, would exempt or defer companies from paying personal property taxes on equipment […]

LANSING — The Michigan House on Thursday approved a bill to encourage internet companies to provide broadband access to underserved areas after the coronavirus pandemic shone a light on that need.

The bill, coming from the state Senate, would exempt or defer companies from paying personal property taxes on equipment for broadband access if the company has been selected to receive funding by certain state or federal agencies.

Equity in internet access and how to fund it has been discussed by policymakers in Michigan in the past. But since the pandemic started, schools went online and telehealth became a safe alternative to in-person appointments, gaps in the state’s internet access have become more obvious, especially in rural areas.

The state found in 2018 that about 368,000 rural Michiganders did not have access to broadband.

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