The past month, I have reflected on the resiliency and strength all of us have displayed over the past two challenging years. I am so proud to represent Minnesota in the US Senate, and I wanted to share some updates on a few pieces of my legislation that I have been working on: 

•    A new bipartisan law I authored with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to ensure federally connected school districts get the funding they need during the pandemic.  
•    Legislation called the Veterans Hearing Benefit Act to help vets can get the care they deserve for hearing loss incurred while serving; and
•    A bill to ensure rural and unserved communities get affordable, reliable internet access, called the Connect Unserved Americans Act with some of my colleagues.  

-Tina Smith 
 
Making sure school districts retain reliable, stable funding

Last month, my bipartisan bill with Senator John Thune (R-SD) to help federally connected schools retain funding during the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law by President Biden. Many school districts, especially in northern Minnesota, rely on federal funding through the Impact Aid Program because they have a lot of land that doesn’t generate property taxes. The Supplemental Aid Flexibility Act will allow these schools to get the support they need without having to jump through a bunch of hoops during the pandemic.  

The pandemic continues to hit many Minnesota school districts hard, so it is important to me that school districts receiving Impact Aid maintain reliable, stable funding. I’m glad we could deliver on this, so students can keep learning. 

Helping veterans get the health care they’ve earned

When I spoke to Minnesota veterans across the state, they repeatedly brought up the struggles they face in getting care for hearing loss as a result of their service—despite this being the most common service-connected ailment. This is unacceptable and needs to be fixed. 

I recently reintroduced the Veterans Hearing Benefits Act, a bill that would help get benefits to veterans whose hearing was damaged as a result of their service and help them pay for their hearing aids. I will continue to push for this legislation to ensure that veterans get the care they deserve. 

Ensuring high-speed broadband is available to areas most in need of service

High-speed broadband is a necessity, and we need to ensure that it’s reaching unserved and rural communities across Minnesota and the country. 

I recently introduced bipartisan legislation to get reliable broadband service to the areas most in need of service. The legislation is called the Connect Unserved Americans Act, and I introduced it with Senators John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Bob Casey (D-PA). This legislation would ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) targets the places that need it most, and it would require federal agencies coordinate more efficiently to save money. I will work to get this bill signed into law to ensure more Minnesotans have affordable, reliable internet service.

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