Broadband access

a top priority

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Whether talking with constituents at the Augusta County Fair or attending a town hall in Surry County, the lack of broadband, or high speed internet, is one of the top issues we hear from our constituents. Folks across our districts, and across every region of the commonwealth, are among the estimated 600,000 Virginians without broadband access. In today’s economy, where communication, education and business all happen online, communities without broadband are at a disadvantage.

Though our party affiliation might be different, our core mission in the General Assembly is shared: We work every day to improve the lives of Virginians. Broadband is critical to this goal.

Broadband access opens the doors to 21st-century opportunities. Telehealth can reduce costs and improve health outcomes for patients. With broadband, home-based and small businesses can grow. Safety improves as broadband creates faster, more reliable emergency communication networks. Last but not least, access to broadband means our children have the opportunity to access online learning tools.

Expanding broadband is critical for both the well-being and pocketbooks of Virginians, yet the divide remains because of the underlying economic problem: The cost of building new broadband networks to unserved communities outweighs the potential customers taking the service. State investment is needed to bridge this divide.

Tackling such an important issue requires collaboration. That is why Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly increased the state’s broadband grant program from $4 million to $19 million for 2019. The demand for these funds is high: This year’s $19 million grant round saw $43.6 million in requests, more than double what was available.

While the $19 million will connect tens of thousands of Virginians, we cannot be satisfied until everyone has an opportunity to connect. When we head to Richmond in January, we pledge to continue advocating for increased broadband investment until all Virginians have access. The problem is urgent, the demand is strong and the time for action is now.

Sens. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Augusta,

and Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth.

Trump’s actions

called unpatriotic

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

There is more at stake in this Ukraine investigation than partisan bickering.

I visited Ukraine in 2007 on a mission trip to work with special needs children. Our group experienced a country that was still enjoying breaths of freedom after having been a so-called “republic” of the former Soviet Union.

Vladimir Putin was in Berlin when the wall fell. The Russian president still mourns the glory days of the totalitarian Soviet Union. Having renounced the failed economic system of the USSR, Putin has worked to restore the old iron fist.

Russia has given up on the economic system of communism because it didn’t work. Now Russia has what columnist Anne Applebaum terms “state capitalism.” Essentially the oligarchs control the capital.

There is nothing wrong per se with Western business leaders doing business with former communist countries. But when economic interests trump values of freedom and democracy, that’s a problem.

Paul Manafort made money by helping to defeat pro-Western forces in Ukraine. President Trump essentially gave his blessing to Putin’s invasion of Crimea. This is the same president who condemned men of conscience for kneeling before the American flag.

Kneeling before the flag is not unpatriotic. Selling out American values for money or for the sake of re-election is.

Mark Buckner.

Stanardsville.

Reader appreciates

insight on natural gas

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Joe Murray’s recent Letter to the Editor, “U.S. should continue transition to natural gas,” was very informative. To start, I did not know that natural gas was so much cleaner than coal. I guess not all fossil fuels are the same.

Second, whenever I hear someone talking about international organizations’ feelings about U.S. energy policy, it is usually because that person is saying Europe is doing things better. It turns out that the International Energy Agency (IEA) recognizes the U.S. as an environmental leader because of our transition to cleaner natural gas.

If we expect federal lawmakers to make the most enlightened decisions about energy policy, as constituents we also have to become better educated so we can hold them accountable. I had no idea that the IEA has praised the U.S for its emissions reductions and its use of natural gas. I thank Murray for offering this insight.

Dallas Bradbury.

Chesterfield.

Reader questions

offshore wind project

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Why do you think that Dominion Energy announced a $7.8 billion offshore wind project when its updated Integrated Resource Plan filed with the State Corporation Commission in August shows that offshore wind is more expensive than onshore wind and roughly three times more expensive than solar? Could it be that they are more focused on the profits for their shareholders and not the lowest cost to their customers?

Gregg Spitler.

Richmond.

Reader defends officers

involved in shooting

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

It is so easy for people like correspondent Susan Ferguson who have no background in any type of law enforcement field to place blame on the police officers involved in the shooting of Gay Ellen Plack.

The officers’ job on a welfare check is to personally see the person of interest and assure he or she is indeed OK. Had they left when there was no answer at the door, and later found out Plack was in distress, laid out on a floor, I bet Ferguson would be equally irate because they did not properly check on Plack’s welfare.

All six of Ferguson’s points were unrealistic in the world of welfare checks. The police officers had mere seconds to decide if they were being attacked, and if they should retreat or defend themselves.

Ferguson’s attack on these officers is out of line and shows a lack of common sense.

Bill Graves.

Henrico.

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