Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – President Trump signed into law Friday the RURAL Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) to help preserve jobs and encourage infrastructure development by maintaining tax-exempt cooperative organizations’ access to government grants and assistance, including FEMA disaster relief and funding to expand rural broadband. The cooperatives’ tax-exempt status was threatened due to an unintended consequence of the hastily-passed GOP tax law.


The legislation was included in the government funding bill that President Trump signed into law yesterday.


Rep. Terri Sewell

“Communities across Alabama’s 7th Congressional District rely on the services provided by rural electric cooperatives, including the deployment of rural broadband, energy to rebuild neighborhoods after natural disasters, and other economic development projects. Access to reliable, affordable broadband is especially important to my constituents in rural communities who rely on this connectivity for economic growth and learning. By ensuring that government grants for these services don’t jeopardize the tax-exempt status of these cooperatives, the RURAL Act will preserve the ability for co-ops to continue providing these invaluable tools that boost local economies and support families across Alabama.”


Fred Braswell, CEO of the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives

“We are most thankful for Rep. Sewell for taking the lead on the Rural Act. She gets it!  She clearly understands the importance of fixing this unintended consequence of the tax law and the negative impact it could have on rural areas of her district and all of rural Alabama. We thank her for her continued leadership on this.”


Tom Stackhouse, President and CEO of the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative

“When the call for help was issued by the electric cooperative industry, Rep. Terri Sewell quickly responded. She understood the need for action and sponsored the RURAL Act of 2019 to help not-for-profit cooperatives and other nonprofit organizations protect their ability to utilize federal grants without jeopardizing their not-for-profit status. We applaud her leadership and persistence on bringing this measure to a successful vote of Congress. Thank you, Rep. Sewell.”


Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

“We’re grateful that Congress understands the importance of fixing a tax problem that threatens 900 electric co-ops and America’s rural communities. This package preserves the electric cooperative business model, protects co-op members from unfair electric rate increases and provides certainty to co-ops that leverage federal and state grants to meet the needs of the communities they serve. We’re particularly grateful to Rep. Terri Sewell for her strong support leading the RURAL Act through Congress.”


Horace Horn, Vice President of External Affairs, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

“We are extremely grateful for Rep. Sewell’s sponsorship of this legislation. The RURAL Act will be tremendously beneficial to our members. This would not have happened without the dedicated work by Rep. Sewell and her talented staff.”


The RURAL Act is available here.