Nonprofit compensation bill becomes law, broadband bills introduced

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., recently introduced three bills he says will address the impact of COVID-19 across the country and the Palmetto State.

One, set to help nonprofits manage financial burdens implicit in unemployment payments, became law earlier this week. Two others, introduced this week, expand broadband access for minority and underserved communities.

Protecting Nonprofits from Strain Act (.pdf), introduced in by U.S. Sens. Tim Scott, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., ensures that nonprofits will have to pay only 50% of their unemployment costs to the state up front while awaiting the 50% in federal coverage set aside by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to a news release.

“As this critical legislation now becomes law, non-profits will have more resources available to continue providing services in our communities without being placed in unnecessary hardship in the midst of the pandemic,” Sen. Tim Scott, said in the release.

The Connecting Minority Communities Act (.pdf), introduced by Scott and authored by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation would expand broadband and digital access to historically Black colleges and universities, third-level tribal educational institutions and Hispanic-serving schools, according to a news release.

The act, if passed, would create an Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and a taskforce of stakeholders from minority institutions and government representatives that would advise the office, according to the release. Grants adding up to $100 million would be distributed to minority colleges and universities to purchase broadband services or equipment, compensate information technology professionals, launch additional online learning options or operate a start-up business under the Connected Minority Communities Pilot Program.

The Governors Broadband Development Fund (.pdfact, supported by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., allocates $10 billion to the Broadband Development Fund, or $75 million minimum for each state, with a priority on expanding service to Opportunity Zones, especially those lacking existing broadband access or that support the deployment of advanced technologies, according to the release.

South Carolina is set to receive about $170 million from the program if the act is passed.