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Rural News

Trump infrastructure plan leaves out rural broadband funding

CNet | Posted on February 15, 2018

Even though Trump has talked about the importance of expanding broadband in rural areas, he has not committed any funding to help build networks. Instead, his efforts have been aimed at eliminating red tape and regulation to get infrastructure built.  The proposal, which makes no mention of broadband infrastructure, is meant to spur the investment of at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure, according to a White House fact sheet. Under the plan, the feds would contribute a total of $200 billion over the next 10 years. About half that money would be used as part of an incentive program to entice private investors as well as city, state and local governments to invest in infrastructure projects.Rural communities are expected to get $50 billion of the $200 billion in direct federal funding to "rebuild and modernize infrastructure" in rural America, according to the fact sheet. How the funds will be spent will be largely up to individual states. In theory, this could mean that some states could use the money on broadband expansion projects. But the emphasis from the White House seems to be on traditional types of infrastructure, according to the fact sheet


Ohio drug overdose deaths up 39% -- nearly triple US average

The Columbus Dispatch | Posted on February 13, 2018

Ohio’s drug overdose deaths rose 39 percent — the third-largest increase among the states — between mid-2016 and mid-2017, according to new federal figures. The state’s opioid crisis continued to explode in the first half of last year, with 5,232 Ohio overdose deaths recorded in the 12 months ending June 31, 2017.


Trump budget slashes farm programs, food assistance

Agri-Pulse | Posted on February 13, 2018

President Trump is proposing to slash crop insurance and other farm programs by $47 billion over 10 years and to dramatically overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, eventually shrinking its cost to taxpayers by one-third.  The proposals will be dead on arrival in the House and Senate Agriculture committees but they would provide ammunition to farm bill critics on the right and left who would like to reduce nutrition assistance and farm subsidies. 


Colorado Senate gives initial OK to rural broadband bill

Aspen Times | Posted on February 13, 2018

Colorado’s Republican-led Senate gave initial approval Wednesday to a bill that would expedite the construction of high-speed broadband service in rural areas by taking money from a state fund that has long subsidized rural telephone service. Rural broadband is a top session priority for lawmakers and for Gov. John Hickenlooper, who acknowledge that Colorado’s eastern plains, western slope and many mountain towns have missed out on the economic boom that is centered in metropolitan Denver.Republican Sens. Don Coram of Montrose and Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling argue their bill will boost economic development and curb depopulation of rural Colorado by providing jobs in an economy that runs on broadband. Also co-sponsoring the bill are Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran and House Majority Leader KC Becker.


State budget proposal could cost Jackson Memorial $59 million in Medicaid funding

Miami Herald | Posted on February 12, 2018

Safety net hospitals could see their state Medicaid payments decrease by $170 million under a proposal in the budget that the Florida Senate is poised to approve Thursday. The proposal, which targets about $318 million in payments that currently go to 28 hospitals with a higher percentage of Medicaid patients, would funnel those funds into the base rates paid to all hospitals instead. The reshuffling would largely affect safety net hospitals, which include public and teaching hospitals, while for-profit hospitals could gain more than $63 million, according to the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida.


The pharmaceutical colonization of Appalachia

Daily Yonder | Posted on February 8, 2018

Over those 30 years, I have learned that most of what we thought we knew about addictions is wrong or, more accurately, woefully incomplete. This is important because how folks attempt to address the problem comes directly from how they think about it. What causes addictions and substance abuse? What keeps it going? Why does it affect certain people and not others? Why do people have a hard time stopping? We need to answer these questions to ever have a chance of getting a handle on addiction in rural regions like Appalachia where there are problems with addiction.


The FCC considers reducing the minimum speed for broadband

Daily Yonder | Posted on February 8, 2018

But those speeds are not readily available in rural areas. The FCC is actually considering reducing the standard, which critics say may make the rural digital divide disappear on paper, but not in real life. Rural residents have few choices of internet service providers – or none at all. They pay higher prices for lower quality service, despite earning less than urban dwellers.A related issue is that fewer rural Americans are online: 39 percent of rural Americanslack home broadband access – in contrast to only 4 percent of urban Americans. And 69 percent of rural Americans use the internet, compared to 75 percent of urban residents. That means less participation in the culture, society, politics and economic activity of the 21st century.


Fight over household wells highlights rural growing pains

High Country News | Posted on February 8, 2018

In 2016, a Washington Supreme Court ruling put the brakes on rural homebuilding in several areas across the state. The so-called Hirst decision required counties to prove that new household wells wouldn’t drain needed water from nearby streams before they issued building permits. But last month, state legislators, under pressure from landowners and building and realtors’ associations, passed a bill that, with some caveats, allows new wells. The challenge of balancing rural growth with the needs of other water users and the environment extends far beyond Washington state. How it plays out here and across the region will determine how many more people can join the ranks of the millions of rural Westerners who rely on domestic water wells.


The big public land sell-out

High Country News | Posted on February 7, 2018

Next month, hundreds of corporate representatives will sit down at their computers, log into something called Energynet, and bid, eBay style, for more than 300,000 acres of federal land spread across five Western states. They will pay as little as $2 per acre for control of parcels in southeastern Utah’s canyon country, Wyoming sage grouse territory and Native American ancestral homelands in New Mexico. Even as public land advocates scoff at the idea of broad transfers of federal land to states and private interests, this less-noticed conveyance continues unabated. It is a slightly less egregious version of the land transfers that state supremacists, Sagebrush Rebels and privatization advocates have pushed for since the 1970s.It’s called oil and gas leasing, conducted under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. With President Donald Trump touting in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that Republicans have “ended the war on American energy,” you can expect leasing to ramp up in years to come. 


Why 6 millennial entrepreneurs chose this tiny Iowa town to run their businesses

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 7, 2018

But this isn’t a column about rural neglect and decay. It’s about the new — the surprisingly vibrant business community in this tiny town of 230 people whose downtown anchor is a 154-year-old retail store. Speck can step outside his front door, glance in every direction and see a business district full of young talent: Ali in her flower shop, Blake with sawdust billowing out of his wood shop and a roadside sign down the street for Slade’s seed dealership.Believe it or not, Speck is one of a half-dozen entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s who in recent years have forged a millennial business backbone for New Providence.  "We share a lot of the same ideas, the same passions," said Faris, who lives just outside of town on the family farm that was home to his father and grandfather. "We want to grow things. We want to change things."That shared passion includes their preference for a rural lifestyle that emphasizes close ties with neighbors.In their own way, each of these young entrepreneurs has seen examples through their families or through mentors of how independent local business in a small town — if you can navigate rampant economic perils — can lead to a clientele that feels more like an extended family. 


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