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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
British convenience store operator EG Group is buying Kroger’s convenience store unit — which includes several Topeka Kwik Shop locations — for $2.15 billion as it expands into the U.S.
A federal judge has ordered U.S. wildlife officials to reconsider a 2015 decision that blocked special protections for the iconic bison herds that roam Yellowstone National Park and are routinely subjected to hunting and slaughter. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said in a ruling late Wednesday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could not "simply pick and choose" between conflicting science, after the agency rejected a study suggesting the park's bison population might be too small to sustain its two herds.
The window opened Friday for oil, gas, uranium and coal companies to make requests or stake claims to lands that were cut from two sprawling Utah national monuments by President Trump in December — but there doesn’t appear to be a rush to seize the opportunities.For anyone interested in the uranium on the lands stripped from the Bears Ears National Monument, all they need to do is stake a few corner posts in the ground, pay a $212 initial fee and send paperwork to the federal government under a law first created in 1872 that harkens back to the days of the Wild West.They can then keep rights to the hard minerals, including gold and silver, as long as they pay an annual fee of $155.