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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

A Call for Better Broadband, Jobs, Local Investment for Rural IA

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Wednesday, September 13, 2023   

A group of rural policymakers and advocates has released its top priorities to help small towns thrive in Iowa and across the country.

The 2023 Rural Policy Action Report said right now, there is too much corporate influence and not enough access to health care in America's heartland. It calls for better investment in what it labels four "main pillars of success" in rural America.

Rep. J.D. Scholten, D-Sioux City, who attended a Rural Action Policy summit on behalf of Iowa, said chief among them is making sure people can live and work safely in Iowa's small towns without fear of facing discrimination.

"Everything from environmental justice to protection of Native American Tribes and Nations, to equitable funding in projects and labor protections, health access," Scholten outlined.

Scholten pointed out the other pillars include ensuring access to infrastructure in small Iowa towns, with equitable funding for things like broadband internet and child care, limiting the power of corporate influence in rural communities, and investing in renewable energy and other sustainability efforts at the local level.

Scholten argued a lack of local investment has a domino effect, which not only costs small towns opportunities, but causes a population decline, too. People are moving away, he said, because corporations are taking resources out, creating fewer jobs, leaving fewer reasons for people to stay and work in their hometowns.

"It's almost like their economies are extraction," Scholten contended. "We have a lot of corporations that 'take out,' whether it's corn, soybeans, hogs, wind energy, all that stuff. Not a ton is going back in, and so policies are not necessarily working for a lot of rural folks right now in rural communities."

He added this year's report built on previous years' efforts and lays the groundwork for future progress in rural Iowa and across the Midwest.


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