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Bill: Let Mississippi electric cooperatives offer internet

A measure to allow Mississippi electric cooperatives to offer high-speed internet is taking its first step forward.

The House Public Utilities Committee approved House Bill 366 on Monday, sending it to the full House for more debate.

The measure would allow Mississippi’s 25 electric cooperatives to form subsidiaries to offer broadband internet service. They’re currently banned from doing so.

The bill, sponsored by Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton, has been championed by Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat.

Cooperatives wouldn’t be required to go into the internet business and current customers wouldn’t be required to buy the service.

The measure allows cooperatives to invest money, loan money or guarantee loans to their affiliates, but says they can’t use revenue from electric sales to subsidize broadband.

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