State’s broadband adoption outpaces national average
By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Legislation that seeks to loosen requirements for keeping lottery-funded scholarships is likely headed to a conference committee, but the Senate sponsor of the bill doesn’t expect it to stall like it did a year ago.
The end of last year’s legislative session was held up for hours because the two chambers couldn’t agree on details of the sweeping proposal, which included an across-the-board reduction in the cumulative grade point average needed to retain merit-based HOPE scholarships.
Currently, students must be enrolled full time in college, have a GPA of at least 2.75 after their freshman year and a cumulative 3.0 GPA in subsequent years to keep the scholarship.
The House last week passed a bill that set the required GPA at 2.75 for all four years of college. In the other chamber, a companion bill being held by the Senate Finance Committee would only give students an extra year to get back up to a 3.0.
But Senate Education chair-man Jamie Woodson said she expects it to come out of the committee and be on the Senate floor as early as Tuesday.
“If there are differences be-tween the two (versions), a conference committee … could resolve those differences in a very productive way as quickly as possible,” the Knoxville Republican said. “It’s certainly not a breakdown.”
House Education Chairman Les Winningham, the main sponsor of the companion bill, couldn’t be reached last week for comment. But Woodson said the Huntsville Democrat “has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we continue communicating.”
“We might have different ideas, but conversations still remain very productive and I’m very confident that we’ll have a positive resolution,” she said.
Most lawmakers agree that some form of reduction is needed to keep the merit-based award after figures released earlier this year by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission showed 50 percent of students lost their company revenue. Tennessee businesses with a broadband Internet connection have median annual revenues of more than two times greater than businesses that rely on dial-up service.
“This survey shows us that Internet and broadband adoption rates grew fastest in rural counties and among small businesses over the past six months,” says Connected Tennessee’s executive director, Michael Ramage. “The majority of the counties actively engaged in Connected Tennessee’s eCommunity Strategies are rural counties. It is encouraging to see that Connected Tennessee’s strategy to encourage broadband adoption and make it available to everyone, no matter where they live, is working.”
Tennessee’s Technology Trends involved more than 1,000 Tennesseans and 800 businesses representing each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. The complete survey can be downloaded from Connected Tennessee’s Web site at www.connectedtennessee.com/research.
The data gathered from Tennessee’s Technology Trends 2007 will help Connected Tennessee localize efforts to improve technology availability and adoption among Tennessee residents and businesses. Connected Tennessee’s mission is to close the digital divide in Tennessee by creating and growing a collaborative network among telecommunications and information technology providers, public agencies, business and community leaders, researchers and universities in an effort to meet the five comprehensive goals of Governor Bredesen’s Trail to Innovation:
• Affordable broadband technology for all Tennesseans.
• Dramatically improved use of computers and the Internet.
• The formation of eCommunity Leadership Teams in every county.
• A policy and regulatory framework that encourages continued investment in communications and information technologies.
• A meaningful online presence for all Tennessee communities.
Connected Tennessee is leading the way into a new economy for Tennesseans. As Tennessee’s technology-based economic development partnership, Connected Tennessee is a public-private alliance of leaders from private industry, government and education. By leveraging the latest in technology and networking, Connected Tennessee is ensuring Tennessee remains the place of choice to work, live and raise a family.
Published in The Messenger 5.19.08