Smith said her broad priority in Congress is an overall successful economy for the Range and rural Minnesota. There’s many folds to that goal, including rising health care costs, the opioid drug epidemic and rural broadband.
As lieutenant governor Smith was among the state’s biggest advocates for pushing the expansion of rural broadband. After visiting steelworkers in Eveleth she hosted a panel discussion in Mountain Iron, a rural broadband community, to discuss the successes and challenges.
“If you don’t have access to internet today, it’s like being disconnected from the 21st Century,” she said.
Last year Smith championed two major programs that provided $500,000 for school boards and $34 million for local communities to expand access. The programs were infused with an additional $26 million in state funding to provide grants for municipalities to build or expand broadband, and centered around public-private partnerships.
In the Senate, Smith will have an opportunity to look at the broadband issue on a nationwide scope.