A Bipartisan Priority for Congress

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) 

There is no denying that the internet has radically changed the ways we communicate, shop, learn, and engage with the world around us. Yet despite the internet’s importance to our everyday lives, not every American has access to broadband internet service—service that has become essential.

Unfortunately, too many counties in our state continue to lack access to broadband service. This is especially true in too many of our rural communities in the Silver State. This unequal access to quality broadband internet is simply wrong and puts our rural residents at an unfair disadvantage. Every Nevada now requires and should have access to the unlimited knowledge and vital services the internet offers. Dial-up internet is simply not good enough anymore.

Broadband internet provides Nevadans with many opportunities for growth. Small businesses can gain quick access to the global market. Our children and grandchildren are able to complete and submit homework assignments with little hassle. Loved ones from across town—or even across the country and the world—can stay in touch with the click of a button. Families can immediately connect via video with a doctor who can help an ailing child. Reliable broadband internet access expedites all of these tasks and more, saving time and money in the process.

In the U.S. Senate, my colleague, Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and I represent states with insufficient rural broadband internet access. We are committed to working together to tackle this disparity head on. Recently, we introduced the Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure Act of 2017, or SPEED Act. This bipartisan bill addresses the unacceptable gap in broadband access by speeding-up the permitting process for providers seeking to expand broadband networks into underserved areas and addressing challenges rural communities face in installing infrastructure on our public lands. I’ve also introduced the bipartisan Moving FIRST Act to provide funding for innovation in transportation and internet access in rural communities. These bills would improve online connectivity for more Americans, particularly benefitting rural economies. I also continue to call on the Trump Administration to include investments in rural broadband in its anticipated infrastructure proposal. There are opportunities for bipartisan agreement to invest in our rural communities, improve our infrastructure, and bring access to affordable broadband to every county in Nevada.

Nevadans deserve quality broadband internet access, regardless of where you live. I refuse to stand by as many Nevadans continue to lack this vital necessity. Access to broadband internet is much more than a telecommunications issue. It is an equality issue and it’s time every Nevadan, from White Pine and Esmeralda, to Lincoln and Lyon counties have access to the services, resources, and economic opportunities the internet offers. This remains one of my top priorities as your Senator and a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which oversees telecommunications issues. As your Senator, I am committed to finding bipartisan solutions that improve opportunities for all Nevadans.

 Catherine Cortez Masto is a U.S. Senator representing the state of Nevada.

Comments

  1. Teri Nehrenz says:

    Well…. now here’s a great cause; so much more important than fighing to decrease the plight of our homeless and hungry.

    • Terry Donnelly says:

      Teri, Our congressional representatives need the skill of multitasking. Supporting one issue does not mean non support for another. I’m sure the Senator would support all efforts to house and feed our poor and needy. I’d be glad to ask her.

      • Teri Nehrenz says:

        Hi Terry,
        Always nice to share different opinions with you. I really don’t see that the Nevada Senator is working much on homelessness at all. I see her fight for the ‘Dreamers’ but little else. Her DREAMER fight is personal, what about everyone else? She spoke out against the defunding of the HOME program but I don’t see any numbers that indicate the system is working anyway. Since 1992, Nevada has received over 166,660,039.00 and completed by 2015 only 7,682 affordable housing units, many of those included already lived in but rehabed homes. It didn’t do much to get people off the street, it helped “some families” with some means…it didn’t do anything to help most without. If you look at the dispursment of funds to the different organizations, most don’t provide homes, they provide support or “RESOURCE INFORMATION.” That has done little to help the situation, we’re still over the top.
        A January point-in-time count in Las Vegas/Clark County found 6,490 homeless people, making it the region with the eighth-largest homeless population this year. Las Vegas is the smallest city among the 10 with the largest homeless populations, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual report released this month.

        That marked an increase of 282 people, or 4 percent, over the 2016’s point-in-time homeless population count. The annual count, taken on a single night in January, does not capture all of the people who will be homeless at some point during the year.

        The 2017 estimate for homeless people in Southern Nevada is near 25,000 people, 5,000 fewer than last year’s estimate.

        However, the amount of unsheltered homeless people in Southern Nevada rose at a much faster rate: by 14 percent to 4,353 homeless people living outside shelters, on streets, in parks or vehicles. Las Vegas/Clark County ranks fifth among large metropolitan areas with the highest rates of unsheltered homeless, with 67 percent.

        In Nevada, 58 percent of the nearly 7,900 homeless people counted in January were unsheltered.

        Now the city of Las Vegas, not of Cortez’s doing mind you, is building a mulit million dollar “Courtyard” for the homeless. Well, a courtyard is a start but does absolutely nothing to get one single person off the street. Outreach programs available….they’re available anyway. I just don’t see a whole lot of effort being directed toward this by the Senator.
        Can’t find much on her ACTIVE efforts at all.

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