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“Highlights with Hegeman” for the Week of July 4: More Help for Rural Missouri

To me, the role of state government is to help as many of our citizens who need that extra “hand up” as possible. At the same time, it is also important to make sure it is something our state can afford. Part of the state operating budget for the fiscal year that started on July 1 includes funding for grants designed for smaller communities. Through these grants, we hope to get under- and unserved areas the ability to add cell phone towers. The immediate result will be covering the gaps that exist in cell coverage in rural Missouri. The larger goal is the ability to upgrade all of our state’s cellular technology.

The grant funding is included in House Bill 3020, which is one of the additional appropriations measures aimed at improving infrastructure needs in Missouri over the next year. More specifically, the funding comes from the American Recovery Plan Act, or ARPA. The $30 million set aside in this measure is designed solely for smaller communities; moreover, private businesses will be able to partner with the state to help put up these towers and expand internet access throughout some of the most rural areas of Missouri.

In my opinion, this is some of the best news to come from Jefferson City in some time. While it is unfortunate it took a pandemic to help get the wheels turning on this idea, the fact remains this one-time spending should provide a lot of relief for a lot of people in our state. Better still, a lot of the projects that come from this ARPA infusion are planned for rural areas, which make up much of the great northwest part of our state. I am happy to see this help come our way and look forward to seeing the results of this funding pay off for years to come.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.