This week is a short one for students, and I look forward to seeing the many college students or service men and women coming back to sit in church with their families for the Christmas services. With four daughters at home this Christmas season, I can’t wait for lots of laughing and activity. At the same time, we all will be missing my oldest son stationed in Alaska who won't be home. But we always find a way to be together through technology, and I hope your family also finds joy and togetherness this week.
Recently, I traveled to Spring Valley, MN to host a broadband town hall session with House Tax Committee chair, Rep. Greg Davids. As many of you know, rural broadband has been a passion of mine. I have a telecommunication reform bill moving in the House that levels the regulations for telecommunication companies competing in our rural areas. This bill, along with an appropriations bill, will be my focus in 2016. There has been significant investment in Minnesota through the Connect America Funds ($85 million) and Minnesota State Border-to-Border Grant funds ($10.5 million).
Also in the works for the upcoming session are more reforms for foster care, child protection, and early education. It is imperative that we continue to reach our most disadvantaged young learners so they can be properly prepared for school. As I sing and worship this holiday season, I cannot help but think that many children just need a fair shot and a stable home. I try every day to reach these children.
Tax relief, transportation funding, and bonding will make the front pages of the newspapers. However, please know that I will be pushing for rural broadband and better youth opportunities for kids around the state.
Also, you may have heard in the news that Minnesota was not granted an extension by the Department of Homeland Security to conform to a REAL ID. This announcement does NOT immediately impact Minnesotans' ability to board a commercial airplane. DHS must issue a notice 120 days before this happens, which means the earliest this requirement could be enforced is in April. If you have plans to fly over the holidays, you and your family can still do so. REAL ID conformity is something the Legislature will look to address quickly in the coming months.
I wish you all the best this holiday season.