LEE COUNTY, Ala. — For State Senator Tom Whatley, the Opelika Broadband Bill is a “go to war bill.”
If passed, the bill would allow Opelika to expand their broadband internet service to the rest of Lee County instead of just within the city limits.
Whatley says the bill is local to Lee County, and he says that for a long time, the Senate and House have had a local courtesy. By this Whatley means that an outsider would not dictate to that senator or representative what they can do in their county.
Whatley says other senators have dictated to him what can be done in the county, and he plans to take a different approach to local bills in other counties if other senators will take that approach to Lee County.
This is the third straight year Whatley has introduced the bill in the Senate, and plans to introduce it again next year if it does not pass.
Last Wednesday, the bill failed in Senate Committee by a 7 to 6 vote, but Whatley is hopeful that the companion bill in the House sponsored by Rep. Joe Lovvorn will pass in the House and have another shot in the Senate.
Whatley says the bill deals with educational and economic freedom for those in the county.
“If you’re in the Beauregard area,” Sen. Whatley says. “If you’re in the Beulah area. If you’re in parts of North or South Auburn that don’t offer digital broadband internet right now, just think what your life would be like with the Digital Broadband. Your $700 phone bill for your child to do homework on the internet at the house would go away. Economic developers in the county would be able to go to a company and say, ‘Hey, look, we have broadband footprint right here. Locate your company here. Grow your business here. Bring your people here. Let’s grow our area economically and educationally.'”