MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — There are 10 amendments on Alabama’s November 8 ballot, and News 19 is breaking down each one ahead of Election Day.
Amendment 2 deals with funding for broadband access.
Amendment 2 – Funding for Broadband Access
A provision in Alabama’s constitution bars local government from giving money or things of value to a corporation or individual. Sponsors say that became an issue with federal COVID-19 relief money being sent to municipalities for broadband.
Amendment 2 would “authorize the state, a county, or a municipality to grant federal award funds or any other source of funding designated for broadband infrastructure by state law to public or private entities for providing or expanding broadband infrastructure.”
The broadband amendment comes at a time when Alabama continues to lag behind in access.
Even at the lowest recommended broadband speeds, 28% lack household access — and there is money to pay for it. Alabama reports it has more than $37 million in grants obligated for broadband.
Amendment 2 sponsor Randall Shedd (R-Arab) says it would help.
“Amendment 2 will clarify that local governments in Alabama can legally spend money for broadband expansion in their areas,” Shedd explained. “This is an economic issue for the State of Alabama. So, even if you have good high-speed internet, there are lots of places across the state that do not have it. And for our state to grow and for those areas to grow, we’re going to have to have broadband in this day and age in which we live.”
13% of Alabama’s $1.65 million addresses those unserved by broadband of at least 25 megabits per second (mbps) download and 3 mbps upload, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) benchmark speed.
19% of addresses are unserved by 100/20 service, the state’s target to align with federal funding. Higher-speed services like 100/100 are available only to about 25% of addresses.
To see an overview of all 10 amendments, click here.