Today, Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) reintroduced the More Opportunities for Rural Economies (MORE) Grants Package. This bipartisan and bicameral legislative package, also reintroduced by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Steve Daines (R-MT), helps level the playing field for rural communities in areas with large amounts of federal land.
“Too many counties in Utah and throughout the West face education, infrastructure, and housing shortages due to the amount of untaxable federally controlled land,” said Representative Stewart. “These two bills will help ease that burden for rural counties with low populations.”
The federal government manages roughly 28 percent of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States, the majority of which is found in western states. Federal land makes up the majority of land in most of Utah’s rural counties.
More about this legislation:
The More Opportunities for Rural Economies (MORE) Grants Act is endorsed by the National Association of Counties. The legislative package would create a definition of High-Density Public Land Counties defined by the acreage of an individual county or local jurisdiction greater than 50% owned or managed by the federal government in any form and where the population is less than 100,000. The legislative package is broken down in two sections:
The first legislation, the More Opportunities for Rural Economies (MORE) from USDA Grants Act, seeks to increase access to:
- Rural Business Development grant program;
- Economic Impact Initiative grant program;
- Telemedicine and Distance Learning Services grant program;
- Community Connect Grant Program;
- Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program or the “ReConnect Program”; or
- Any other discretionary grant program of the Department of Agriculture Rural Development divisions under which grants are awarded to— (i) counties; (ii) other units of local government; or (iii) Tribal governments.
The second legislation, the More Opportunities for Rural Economies (MORE) from DOT Grants Act, would increase access to:
- Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation discretionary grant program;
- Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program;
- Public transportation innovation grant program;
- Public transportation safety program;
- Federal lands access program;
- Airport Improvement Program (AIP);
- Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program (CRISI); or
- Any other discretionary grant program of the Department of Transportation under which grants are awarded to— (i) counties; (ii) other units of local government; or (iii) Tribal governments.