Arkansas is the least connected of the 50 states. Since 2011, the state has banned cities and towns from building their own networks, outlawing a local solution that has been hailed as an effective way for communities to connect themselves when they don’t have internet providers. In 2019, however, AR appears to be having a change of heart. Under the weight of constituent complaints about lousy internet—and after years of waiting for subsidies to goad telecommunication giants into expanding the infrastructure—the state legislature in Feb passed a bill to repeal its ban.
In June, Arkansas began rolling out a controversial change to its Medicaid program. Under a new state plan, all recipients who are able to work will have to log 80 working hours each month, or risk losing access to their health care. But finding a job might not be the biggest hurdle for many people. In order to stay eligible for Medicaid, Arkansas’s recipients must report their working hours each month, and it must be done online—the state doesn’t offer a way to do it via mail, telephone, or in person.
[Commentary] The recently-updated National Broadband Map's biggest downfall lurks behind its search-by-address function, which suggests a precision that its underlying data usually can’t deliver. The Federal Communications Commission data doesn’t get more granular than census blocks—statistical areas that can span a city block or several counties. Within census blocks, internet access can vary quite a bit. Just because your closest neighbors have broadband doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have any.