LANSING — The Michigan House has approved a bill to encourage internet companies to provide broadband access to underserved areas after the coronavirus pandemic shone a light on the need.

The bill would exempt or defer select companies from paying personal property taxes on equipment for broadband access. Equity in internet access and how to fund it has been discussed by policymakers in Michigan in the past.

But since the pandemic started, schools went online and telehealth became a safe alternative to in-person appointments, gaps in the state’s internet access have become more obvious, especially in rural areas.

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