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Rural News

Washington state passes net neutrality law as states push back against the FCC

NBC News | Posted on March 8, 2018

Washington became the first state to pass a law making it illegal for internet service providers to manipulate their networks for money. Dozens of other states are considering similar measures through legislation and lawsuits. Governors in Montana, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey and Vermont have all signed executive orders on the issue.  There's just one problem: The new rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission in December, in a 3-2 vote along party lines, pre-empt states from making their own net neutrality laws. The FCC's new rules will officially go into effect on April 23, according to a notice published last month in the Federal Register. Washington's law, which had bipartisan support, doesn't take effect until June 6. Experts expect it could face legal challenges. "This is symbolic politics, because the states know it is illegal to do," Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told NBC News. "But they can put rules on the book and make it look like they're doing something."


Rural prosperity center jumps hurdle

Valdosta Daily Times | Posted on March 6, 2018

A plan to create an academic center focusing on the needs of rural Georgia cleared a milestone, but conversations about funding still await lawmakers. House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the measure, sending it to the Senate. The proposal comes from the House Rural Development Council, which has offered several bills aimed at addressing the woes of rural Georgia.  Shaw’s measure creates the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, which would be housed within a university that offers a bachelor’s in rural community development – a requirement that appears to favor Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. 

Trump budget eliminates sweat equity and 10 other rural housing programs

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 1, 2018

Despite pushback from the House and Senate on a similar proposal released last year, the Trump administration again recommends doing away with a majority of the nation’s rural housing programs.

Give rural Americans broadband internet and clean water

Quartz | Posted on March 1, 2018

To make it in the digital economy, the first step is to plug in. Nearly 40% of residents in the rural US remain without access to broadband. That includes many of the small towns whose economic bottom felt out when manufacturers left.   Stuck on the digital fringes, they stand little chance of attracting any kind of outside employer, says Roberto Gallardo, a regional economy specialist at Purdue University. It also puts them at risk of losing the little industry they still have. “If you really want to make sure these towns remain, the first thing you’ve got to do is get them wired,” he says. “That’s a must.” One major obstacle to getting those communities plugged in has been that federal funds often go to the big carriers, says Marty Newell, who coordinates rural broadband policy at the Center for Rural Strategies, which focuses on rural development. “The big guys, they are not that interested in the last folks at the head of the holler or the people who are farthest from the county seat,” he adds. “The profit is not nearly as lucrative there.”

Everything Is Booming Except for Americans' Wages

The Agurban | Posted on March 1, 2018

Broad measures of unemployment are as low as at the peak of the mid-2000s boom. And job creation continues at a healthy clip. In other words, it’s time to stop calling this a recovery, and start calling it a boom. But one important economic indicator remains disturbingly subdued -- wages.In dollar terms, wage growth has been superficially healthy -- in January, average hourly earnings rose 2.9% from a year earlier. But consumer prices increased 2.1% during the same period. In other words, real hourly earnings grew by only 0.8% -- less than half the real growth rate of the overall economy.Meanwhile, the NFIB survey reports that 31% of employers are paying their workers more. But this is also presumably unadjusted for inflation. Because inflation is positive in most years, wages tend to go up on average every year. But that doesn’t mean workers are actually getting more purchasing power. In terms of real wage growth, 2017 wasn't a great year, and for nonsupervisory workers, it was especially slow. The biggest wage gains since the recession came in 2015, thanks to a fall in oil prices that held inflation down while dollar wages rose. Now, inflation is back to a more normal level, but dollar wages aren’t rising much faster, meaning that workers are pocketing fewer gains. Median real weekly earnings for American workers actually fell in late 2017 after hitting a plateau earlier in the year. Why are low unemployment, robust business investment and soaring confidence measures not causing faster real wage growth? One possible reason is that employers are growing increasingly powerful. Recent research has found that rising concentration in labor markets -- a decrease in the number of employers competing for workers -- has led to the suppression of wages.

USDA launches webpage highlighting resources to help rural communities address opioid crisis

Norwalk Reflector | Posted on February 27, 2018

The U.S. government has launched a new webpage featuring resources to help rural communities respond to the opioid crisis.

A Greyhound Racetrack Meets Its Demise

The New York Times | Posted on February 27, 2018

Six dog handlers, each escorting a greyhound, stepped onto the wet sand of Asia’s only legal dog-racing track to little noise except a subtropical rain. In the stands, about two dozen men watched as the greyhounds were led to their starting positions and then released to sprint after a rabbit-shaped lure around a ring. If any of the men had placed bets, none of them showed elation.In an otherwise empty betting hall, a security guard patrolled listlessly as staff members sat behind glassed-in counters, napping or tapping away on their smartphones.The racing track in this Chinese gambling hub no longer sees the excitement it did in its 20th-century glory days. The greyhounds that ran on that recent Saturday were among the last to compete here before the track shuts down in July.

Mew Mexico plans to increase plugging abandoned wells

AP | Posted on February 22, 2018

The New Mexico agency that regulates oil and natural gas development has a plan to start plugging more of the hundreds of abandoned wells located across the state. The state Oil Conservation Division is seeking to plug 41 wells on state land and 19 on private land during the current fiscal year

Georgia: Legislation introduced for rural prosperity center

Valdosta Daily Times | Posted on February 22, 2018

State Rep. Jason Shaw, R-Lakeland, introduced legislation that would create the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation. “Our state has experienced tremendous economic success in recent years, and we are proud to be named the number one state in the country to do business or five consecutive years,” Shaw said. “However, this significant growth has been largely focused within the Metro Atlanta region, and rural Georgia has not seen the same level of economic prosperity. Rural Georgia faces distinct economic challenges, and with this legislation, we could continue to study these issues. "The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation would provide a central location for research and information on rural development, which is crucial to enhancing economic opportunities in these regions.”

Montana first state to prorect net nuetrality | Posted on February 22, 2018

Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order to protect net neutrality in Montana by requiring that successful recipients of state contracts adhere to internet neutrality principles. As the first governor in the country to implement action in the wake of the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules, Governor Bullock invited other governors and statehouses to join him. Governor Bullock’s administration will offer the framework to other states who wish to follow. The executive order notably sets the terms on which the State of Montana will be making purchases and makes a preference for a free and open internet clear. The State of Montana is a significant purchaser of internet services.