Research / Rural Development


SLC Regional Resource | April 2020

Missed Connections: State Funding Mechanisms for Broadband Expansion

Anne Roberts Brody

High-speed internet access, commonly referred to as “broadband,” is provided by a series of technologies — cable, telephone wire, fiber, satellite, mobile and fixed wireless — that allow users to send and receive data at speeds necessary to support a wide range of applications for voice communications, entertainment, telemedicine, distance education, telework, e-commerce, civic engagement, public safety and energy conservation, to name a few. Access to reliable, high-speed internet is vital to almost every aspect of the nation’s economy, and communities with broadband access enjoy a wide array of benefits. Often compared to the electrification of rural America, the increasing efforts to expand broadband access in rural areas have gained momentum across the South.

While the rate of broadband adoption continues to grow, largely in urban and suburban areas, numerous studies and surveys indicate that broadband deployment in rural areas continues to lag. Rural areas also tend to have fewer broadband providers, leading to limited options and competition for customers, as well as slower connection speeds. Meanwhile, nearly one quarter of rural adults say that access to high-speed internet is a major problem in their local community.

State laws and policies can facilitate and encourage broadband expansion in underserved rural areas. Building upon the 2016 SLC Regional Resource, The Role of State and Local Government in Broadband Deployment, this SLC Regional Resource explores funding mechanisms implemented by Southern states to encourage broadband expansion in rural, unserved and underserved areas.


Other | December 2019

Issues to Watch - 2020

Anne Roberts Brody, Cody Allen and Roger Moore

As the 2020 legislative cycle approaches, legislators across the South are preparing and pre-filing legislation to address emerging and relevant policy issues in their states. With its regional focus, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is uniquely positioned to identify and research current and emerging policy issues and trends. This report was prepared by Anne Roberts Brody, policy and program manager, and Roger Moore and Cody Allen, policy analysts, and provides a sampling of issues and trends that are anticipated to emerge during the 2020 legislative term. State actions referenced in this report may represent appropriate policy options for Southern lawmakers to consider and, as such, may include bills or policies originating outside the SLC region.

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Policy Analysis | November 2019

Federal Analysis: Rural Health Agenda

Nick Bowman

Rural hospitals have struggled to remain solvent in recent years. Since January 2010, 81 rural hospitals have closed in the SLC region. State and federal policy makers are working to mitigate this trend and promote the work of rural hospitals.* At the federal level, the recently introduced Rural Health Agenda offers potential assistance for rural hospitals and residents.

On July 31, 2019, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (TN) introduced the Rural Health Agenda in the Senate to support the provision of rural healthcare. The agenda includes the Rural America Health Corps Act, Telehealth Across State Lines Act of 2019 and Rural Health Innovation Act of 2019. The three bills were each read twice and referred to the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

On October 29, 2019, U.S. Representative Phil Roe (TN) introduced companion bills for the Rural America Health Corps Act and Telehealth Across State Lines Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives. Both bills were referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee; the latter was also referred to the Ways and Means Committee. That same day, U.S. Representative David Kustoff (TN) introduced a companion bill for the Rural Health Innovation Act of 2019, which was referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The information provided is a summary of the three bills comprising the Rural Health Agenda. As the bills are in committee, they are subject to change. All information is current as of November 19, 2019.

Rural America Health Corps Act

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2019-2020
Acting Chair

Senator
Casey Murdock

Oklahoma

Immediate
Past Chair

Senator
Daniel B. Verdin III

South Carolina

Committee
Liaison
Nick Bowman

Nick Bowman
Policy Analyst


Originally formed in 1961, the SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee’s agenda focuses on issues critical to the future of farming and farm communities, such as the distribution of water and other natural resources – critical for the agricultural sector – and new opportunities for the export of agricultural commodities to international markets. Several reports prepared by the committee have measured the economic impact of agricultural sector, often considered the “engine of the economy” in most Southern states. The committee's work also centers on the continued development of rural communities, highlighting access to healthcare and transportation; integration with the global economy; the many differences and surprising similarities between rural and urban America; and how to begin to bridge the infrastructure challenges that divide these communities.

More SLC Research into Rural Development


SLC Regional Resource | November 2019

Rural Hospitals: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Policy Analysis | April 2019

Federal Legislation on Rural Hospitals

Other | January 2019

Issues to Watch - 2019

SLC Special Series Report | May 2017

Blown Away: Wind Energy in Southern States (Part 1)

Policy Analysis | February 2014

The "Black Belt"

SLC Regional Resource | January 2009

Capital Access in the Black Belt

SLC Regional Resource | January 2006

State Rural Initiatives: Where the Money Comes From

SLC Regional Resource | July 2005

Rural Centers in the South

SLC Regional Resource | December 2003

A Rural Policy for the 21st Century