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LETTER: Schmit works hard and works for us

To the Editor:

Surely, the silly season in campaign politics is upon us when Sen. Matt Schmit’s standing as rural leader is called into question.

As a local provider representative on the state Broadband Task Force, I sat shoulder to shoulder with him at legislative tables in the House and Senate as we fought to promote rural broadband investment.

Schmit has been a champion for rural Minnesota in his first term. He worked closely with legislators from both sides of the aisle to create Minnesota’s nation-leading “Border-to-Border Broadband” competitive grant fund, which already has extended connectivity to more than 12,000 homes and businesses in hard-to-serve areas.

In fact, Schmit’s bipartisan efforts were one of the highlights of this past legislative session, during which critical funding was secured for continued expansion of rural broadband access for thousands of the approximately 20 percent of rural homes and businesses that lack it.

For these efforts, Schmit has been recognized as a “Legislator of Distinction” by the League of Minnesota Cities for three straight years.

His body of work demonstrated his rural priorities. As chair of the Senate Game and Fish Subcommittee, he promoted hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities throughout greater Minnesota. As vice chair of the Jobs, Agriculture, and Rural Development Committee, Schmit promoted agricultural competitiveness, including agritourism opportunities and a balanced approach to improved water quality.

As a strong rural voice on the 10-member transportation finance conference committee, he fought for more resources for our rural roads and bridges. He has worked for new approaches in and equitable funding for rural education. And Schmit is poised to lead on rural health care affordability when state-level health care reform takes center stage in 2017.

For my money, there is not a more hard-working member of the Minnesota Legislature than Sen. Matt Schmit. Fortunately, he’s working for us — and I make that statement as a proud rural Minnesotan.

Gary Evans

Winona, Minn.