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A new poll on climate change shows some in North Dakota are yet to be convinced; indicted FBI informant central to GOP Biden probe rearrested; and mortgage scams can leave victims clueless and homeless.

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Donald Trump wins the South Carolina primary, but there's mixed feelings about what a second Trump term could mean and President Biden addresses border issues with governors.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

Rural Advocates Don't Want to Lose Community Improvement Momentum

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Wednesday, September 13, 2023   

Recent policy decisions are being carried out to improve the lives of Minnesota's rural communities. A national coalition says despite the progress, more moves are needed to help small towns thrive. The new 2023 Rural Policy Action report contains input from nearly 30 organizations. The authors say there are four main areas federal lawmakers should focus on to ensure rural communities are set up for success. They include infrastructure investments, taking on corporate mergers, and protecting democracy and natural resources.

Erik Hatlestad, energy democracy program manager with the Minnesota group Clean Up the River Environment, said small-town America remains overlooked.

"We did make some really great progress in the Inflation Reduction Act and [the] bipartisan infrastructure law and others. But we still have a long way to go - we have many decades of disinvestment and under-investment to make up for," he said.

Hatlestad contributed to the report, and added federal incentives will leverage tens of billions of dollars for rural
electric cooperatives and communities as they transition to clean energy sources. But he likens it to a down payment, noting more investments are needed to cover every rural utility. House Republicans are prioritizing spending cuts, and he warns some of these policies could be undone.

As for the resources that are currently available, Hatlestad said rural governments need some technical guidance in getting their hands on grants that could transform their communities.

"I think that is still a really big concern, and continuing to clear pathways for federal investment to reach rural communities needs to be a big priority," he explained.

Infrastructure goes beyond roads, bridges and broadband upgrades, the report said. Small, rural towns are also in desperate need of healthcare access, less expensive childcare, and a larger stock of safe and affordable housing to improve the quality of life for residents. The Minnesota Legislature helped this past session, other states should follow suit in filling gaps, Hatlestad added.

Disclosure: Rural Democracy Initiative contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Health Issues, Rural/Farming, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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