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A new survey shows discrimination in medical settings affects quality of care; U.S. Supreme Court rejects vaccine and testing mandates for businesses; and New York moves toward electric school buses.

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U.S. House passes a new voting rights bill, setting up a Senate showdown; President Biden announces expanded COVID testing, and Jan. 6 Committee requests an interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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New website profiles missing and murdered Native Americans; more support for young, rural Minnesotans who've traded sex for food, shelter, drugs or alcohol; more communities step up to solve "period poverty;" and find your local gardener - Jan. 29 is National Seed Swap Day.

$65 Billion in Infrastructure Bill to Tackle Rural Broadband

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Monday, December 6, 2021   

OWYHEE, Nev. -- There's a light at the end of the tunnel for rural Nevadans struggling with slow, spotty internet service as the Biden administration's infrastructure bill has allocated $65 billion for broadband improvements.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's ReConnect program just started taking applications for grants and loans to companies willing to build out networks to underserved areas.

Lynn Manning John, vice-principal of Owyhee Combined School on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, said her community desperately needs better coverage and more bandwidth.

"In the building, we struggle with the internet going out regularly because the kids are on Chromebooks," Manning John explained. "And because of our location, which is a hundred miles from Elko, it sometimes takes us a day or two to get our internet back up."

She pointed out the area has only a single cell tower, and pre-pandemic 90% of families had no home-based internet service. Rural areas often lack communication infrastructure, because the customer base is too small to provide a return on a telecom company's investment.

Manning John said the future of her community, part of the Shoshone Paiute Tribe, depends on better broadband.

"It cannot be left up to the market," Manning John contended. "These kids have a need. Internet is just as essential as indoor plumbing and electricity. It needs to be provided on the scale that we do any type of public service."

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, saying it favors urban over rural and suburban areas and creates red tape.

Jenny Miller, vice president of states and industry relations with the nonprofit advocacy group Connected Nation, said the country needs to make distance learning and telemedicine available to all, and to close the digital divide.

"It's really a once-in-a-generation amount of money that is coming down the pipe," Miller emphasized. "There is a ton of political pressure to get this moving quickly. We needed this yesterday."


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