August 28, 2018

Cortez Masto, Portman Introduce Bill to Create Rural Interagency Council

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced a bill to create a standing ‘Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development’ to work across executive departments, agencies, and offices to streamline the work of agencies and programs specifically designed to support rural communities. The council will maximize the impact of federal investments across the different agencies in order to promote economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities and encourage the use of innovative technologies that resolve local and regional challenges.

“We must focus on better addressing the unique challenges and needs of rural communities,” said Cortez Masto. “This bill will create a council that will look out for the best interests of Nevadans who live in rural areas and ensures that we are doing our best to provide geographically isolated communities with the resources and innovative technologies they need to thrive.”

“We must work to ensure that rural communities in Ohio and across the country have the resources and technology needed for economic development and job growth,” said Portman. “I am pleased to work with Senator Cortez Masto on this legislation to support access to broadband and identify ways in which technology can be used to solve challenges faced by our rural communities. As the internet continues to transform business in the 21st century, we must be sure that farmers and businesses in Ohio and across the country have the resources, such as access to broadband, so they can continue to compete around the world. I am pleased that this bill was included in the Senate’s farm bill and look forward to working with my colleagues to get it to the President’s desk for his signature.”

If passed, the bill would:

  • Require a report on “Rural Smart Communities,” describing efforts of rural areas to integrate “smart” technology into their communities to solve local challenges relating to energy, transportation, health care, law enforcement and housing.
  • Review whether there is a public benefit for the creation of rural smart community demonstration project programs, potentially a step to take in the future to help rural communities address these challenges. 
  • Distribute a Smart Community Resource Guide, a compilation of existing Federal and non-Federal programs available to rural communities that could aid them in adopting smart community practices, strategies and technologies.
  • Codify a Rural Broadband Sub-Committee within the Council to identify and address regulatory barriers that may impede rural broadband deployment. 
  • Codify the federal interagency Rural Council, permanently creating a mechanism for all relevant federal agencies with rural programmatic assets to communicate and share expertise and resources. 

The text of the bill can be found HERE.