Rural Texas Policy Updates
Over the years, The Schlueter Group has been blessed to work on many and varied issues that impact our Texas rural communities: water, healthcare, agriculture, transportation and economic development.
To that end, we decided to publish an e-newsletter entitled Texas Sunrise to bring the latest in rural policy information to those who live and breathe it. Enjoy!
Lawmakers call on Gov. Greg Abbott to Plan to Expand Broadband Access
Pandemic Worsens Disparities
As the COVID-19 pandemic has "exacerbated existing disparities" related to high-speed internet access in Texas, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers asked Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday to develop a plan to expand broadband access in the state.
“Texas is well overdue for a state broadband plan, and we believe the state needs to begin the process of creating one immediately,” the 88 lawmakers wrote in a letter to Abbott’s office. They said the need can't wait until the 2021 session of the Texas Legislature.
Access to broadband has become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic as social distancing has prompted remote learning at schools and remote working for many offices. More than 800,000 rural Texans don’t have adequate broadband infrastructure, however, according to data and maps produced by Connected Nation Texas and cited by the lawmakers in the letter. As broadband speeds increase, the number of rural communities that get left behind also increases, they said.
Take a look at this article from the Texas Tribune:
Opinion: AT&T, FCC Abandon Rural Broadband Customers
Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
On October 1, AT&T stopped selling digital-subscriber-line (DSL) connections. At first glance, the move may seem like a market-based decision to drop an obsolete technology. But as journalists and advocates were quick to pick up on: What about the abandoned customers? At a time when safety dictates that many of us learn and earn from home, how are people to do so when a commercial decision impacts health and well-being? Although the situation seems ripe for government intervention, the Federal Communications Commission's adherence to "light-touch" regulation is preventing any recourse for consumers.
Read Benton Institute article op/ed piece here:
Federal HHS Plans to Improve Rural Health Focuses on Better Broadband, Telehealth Susan Tribble, Kaiser Health Network
Knowing it may be met with some skepticism, the Trump administration in early September announced a sweeping plan that officials say will transform health care in rural America.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic reached into the nation’s less-populated regions, rural Americans were sicker, poorer and older than the rest of the country. Hospitals are shuttering at record rates, and health care experts have long called for changes.
The new plan, released by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, acknowledges the gaps in health care and other problems facing rural America. It lists a litany of projects and directives, with many already underway or announced within federal agencies.
“We cannot just tinker around the edges of a rural healthcare system that has struggled for too long,” Azar said in a prepared statement.
Yet, that is exactly what experts say the administration continues to do.
See the full KHN story here:
Stan Schlueter, President and Founder, has been actively involved in the Texas legislative process for 41 years, across 22 sessions. He served in the Texas Legislature from 1977-1989 representing a mostly rural district.
During his tenure in the legislature, Stan was named “Ten Best” by Texas Monthly Magazine. While in the legislature, Stan served on numerous committees and as Chairman of Calendars, Ways and Means, and Financial Institutions committees. He served on the Legislative Budget Board Committee, Legislative Audit Committee, and the Texas Legislative Council Committee. As a member he was also named to the All-Decade Honor Roll.
Jeff Heckler, from our team, was appointed, by Governor Bill Clements. to the Texas Commission on Rural Economic Development. Mr. Heckler was director to the Special Task Force on Rural Health Care Delivery in Texas, and was the primary researcher, author and editor of the task force report to the Legislature. He also was one of the chief architects of the landmark legislation the Omnibus Health Care Rescue Act of 1989 known as the “rural health bill.” That is to say, we have a long and strong commitment to the health and prosperity of our rural communities.
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