NTCA Applauds Senate Passage of Key Rural Broadband Priorities in 2020 Appropriations Bill

For Immediate Release
Contact: Carolyn Just, 703-351-2015, cjust@ntca.org

Arlington, Va., (December 19, 2019)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today issued the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield regarding the Senate passage of the remaining FY 2020 appropriations bills, which now head for Executive approval.

“NTCA appreciates the many important provisions for rural broadband providers included in these comprehensive spending bills, and we applaud their passage by the Senate. Of particular note within the bills:

SECURE Act: “NTCA sponsors employee benefits programs, which help small businesses in rural America attract and retain a qualified workforce. Current rules for Cooperative and Small Employer Charity pension plans, however, compel rural telecom providers to divert scarce resources toward paying high premiums on pension programs in lieu of focusing those resources on network investment and delivery of services. Passing the SECURE Act will better enable NTCA members and other small businesses to sustain their pension offerings on a more affordable basis and refocus resources on helping rural consumers.” 

Cadillac Tax:  “Healthcare costs in rural America are often more expensive for plan participants. The repeal of the Cadillac Tax will help small rural businesses provide valued benefit options to employees and their families in rural communities they serve on a more affordable basis.”

RURAL Act: “The passage of the RURAL Act allows NTCA’s cooperative members committed to deploying broadband in the most rural areas of America to leverage government grant programs without disruption to their cooperative tax status. NTCA remains committed to working with Congress in the future to ensure that no broadband provider, regardless of corporate structure, will be forced to pay taxes on grants that are otherwise intended to advance national broadband goals.”

ReConnect Broadband Program: “We applaud the additional funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture ReConnect program. The ReConnect program provides assistance for deployment of broadband services to rural America and is a critical tool in the toolbox for NTCA members to continue their work connecting rural Americans.”

STELAR: “NTCA appreciates the efforts of Congress to promote access to video content for users nationwide by establishing good faith protections for video buying groups used by smaller rural providers. We are hopeful, however, that this will not be the end of the discussion about additional measures needed to address the adverse effects of decades-old laws that skew the video marketplace and ultimately undermine consumer choice.”