Broadband, health care bills advance in Assembly

Rural broadband and healthcare legislation supported by Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg moved forward this week in the state assembly. First, the rural broadband expansion bill, Assembly Bill 123, was passed by the Assembly by a vote of 98-0. The bill appropriates $15.5 million more into broadband expansion.

“This is a big step forward for rural broadband expansion,” Brooks said. “We can’t have areas of our state in the dark ages; our rural areas need strong internet connections in order to have the necessary infrastructure for education, workforce, and healthcare.”

The legislation also expands technology grants for schools in rural areas through a program called TEACH or Technology Educational Achievement program. The bill continues the program for another two years, allows for more small school districts to be eligible and invests $7.5 million into the grants.

This is a total of $23 million over two years for broadband expansion. The Rural Wisconsin Initiative healthcare package of four bills received a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Rural Development and Mining this week. Brooks said the bills focus on improving access to high quality health care in rural America.

“A quality healthcare system is important to all of us, that’s why I’m working with my colleagues across rural Wisconsin to ensure we can continue to enjoy the best healthcare provided by the best trained professionals,” Brooks said. “I will now work with my legislative colleagues to advance these bills through the budget process.”

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