Congressman Duffy Kicks Off Rural Relief Initiative
Congressman Duffy Kicks Off Rural Relief Initiative
Washington DC – Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy, Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing & Insurance, today announced the kickoff of the Rural Relief Initiative, a legislative push to help rural America get back on its feet. The Rural Relief Initiative consists of 11 members of Congress and includes a robust initial legislative package.
“This is a packet of bills called Rural Relief,” said Congressman Duffy. “So often, rural America has been left behind. We have a lot of problems. And so this is phase one, a group of members from more rural districts coming together to think through, ‘how do we revive the economies of rural America?’ This is, this is a small step, some small bills that take us in the right direction. But it’s also just phase one. So here we are signing this package, right now with all of you. And momentarily, going to drop these off on the floor to kick-start and grow rural America.”
Click HERE to watch the video of Congressman Duffy signing bills to introduce.
Initial legislation of the Rural Relief Initiative:
· Forgotten Families Recovery Act would address one of the not often talked about consequences of the opioid epidemic – the drastic increase in foster children living in rural areas. As rural areas have been hit hardest by opioid and methamphetamine use, there has been a proportional increase in the amount of children being removed from their birth parents and being put in foster care. Rep. Duffy wants to make sure that pregnant women, children, and care givers are given due consideration when Substance Abuse and Mental Health grants are awarded.
· Fab Lab Classroom Modernization Act would address manufacturing jobs leaving rural areas. We want students to become interested in advanced manufacturing careers at a young age. That’s why this bill supports bringing Fab Labs to classrooms.
· PREPARE Act would enhance the opportunities for rural students to become educated and achieve success. In rural areas, the percentage of adults with a college degree lags far behind other areas. By ensuring that more CTE money is spent in rural areas, we will help improve upon that number while also training students for high-demand careers.
· Hometown Heroes Relief Act – In some rural areas, many EMS services are performed by volunteers or small departments. These organizations have had difficulty staffing in recent years due to the increase of people leaving rural areas, the rise in medical emergencies from opioid use, and the fact that equipment in rural areas is suboptimal compared to similar organizations in urban areas. This bill would create a grant program to purchase equipment, provide training, and recruit staff in rural areas which are often the forefront of the opioid epidemic. Rural EMS needs to be just as professional as urban EMS so additional funding goes a long way towards that goal.
· Helping the Homeless Act was a recommendation made at Congressman Duffy’s most recent “Hunger and Homelessness Summit.” It underscores the plight of rural areas where the homeless face much different circumstances than homeless in urban areas.
In addition, these Rural Relief bills have already been introduced, and are a part of the Rural Relief Initiative:
· Making Rural America Count Act: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Program provides federal funding through loans, grants, and guarantees to individuals, businesses, and cities in rural regions throughout the nation. In order to qualify for Rural Development Program funding, certain population criteria must be met. These population limits include prison populations, putting rural businesses, and entire cities located in regions with a prison, at a disadvantage when applying for USDA Rural Development assistance. The Making Rural America Count Act will exclude incarcerated prison populations from overall population eligibility requirements as they pertain to Rural Development Programs administered by the USDA, ensuring small communities have access to critical federal funding. (Introduced by Rep. David Valadao)
· Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act would direct the FCC to require intermediate providers that transmit voice calls to register with the agency and establish quality standards for transmitting voice calls. These reforms would ensure small businesses, families, and emergency responders in rural America can once again rely upon their telephone calls being completed. The legislation is supported by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, and WTA-Advocates for Rural Broadband. The Act amends the Communications Act of 1934 to establish call quality standards and takes steps to ensure Americans in rural areas are receiving all their calls. It requires providers register with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and meet quality standards ensuring rural Americans can rely on phone service. It also prohibits providers from using any intermediary routing services not registered with the FCC. (Passed the House; Introduced by Rep. David Young)
· Strengthening our Pediatric Workforce Act - Our nation is facing a severe pediatric specialist physician shortage, and with the majority of health professional shortage areas in the U.S. designated in nonmetropolitan areas, our rural communities are shouldering the greatest burden. Many communities lack an adequate supply of physicians needed to provide high quality care to children living in rural and medically underserved areas. The Strengthening our Pediatric Workforce Act will help address this shortage by creating a grant program to fund additional pediatric specialty residency slots in rural and medically underserved areas. The grant dollars may also be used to help cover start-up costs associated with new pediatric residency programs. These costs are often cited as barriers to entry for hospitals interested in starting teaching programs since they are not recouped. Addressing the suboptimal access to specialty care for children in rural areas by building a stronger physician pipeline practicing in their community will help prevent long-term health conditions, and ensure all children receive the highest quality care they deserve. (Introduced by Lloyd Smucker)
Please see the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the Rural Relief Initiative: “House GOP Members Push Bills to Address Rural Woes”
Members of Rural Relief Initiative:
- Rod Blum – Iowa
- Mike Bost – Illinois
- Sean Duffy – Wisconsin
- John Faso – New York
- Greg Gianforte – Montana
- Richard Hudson – North Carolina
- Will Hurd – Texas
- Bruce Poliquin – Maine
- Lloyd Smucker – Pennsylvania
- David Young – Iowa
- David Valadao – California