Legislation aimed at improving rural broadband in Missouri is heading to Governor Eric Greitens’ desk, after the House voted overwhelmingly to give final approval on Thursday afternoon.

State Rep. Curtis Trent (R-Springfield) speaks on the Missouri House floor in March 2017 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications}

The House voted 138-4 on Thursday to approve legislation from State Rep. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, declaring the intent of the Legislature to encourage development of fiber optic infrastructure by Missouri’s rural electric cooperatives.

Trent’s bill declares that the expansion of broadband service is in the best interests of Missourians.

Trent spoke on the House floor on Thursday, saying this bill will yield dividends to the state and will attract more development.

He says the uses of this are “immeasurable.”

“Rural broadband is critical to deploy education opportunities, health care, telemedicine, because it’s difficult to have physical structures,” Trent said during March floor debate.

Trent has told Missourinet that rural electric cooperatives have a lot of unused capacity. His bill would enable them to make that unused capacity available for residential and commercial purposes.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, told Missouri Farm Bureau members in February that Missouri ranks 40th in the nation in access to broadband service.

Representative Trent’s district includes southwest Springfield, Battlefield and parts of Greene County.