Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) announced the introduction of a series of bills that will prioritize funding for critical infrastructure projects, and expedite funding for mental health care for rural and agriculture communities.
"Transportation infrastructure improvements are vitally important to Minnesotans who know the potholes that need repair and roads that need more lanes, like on highways 10, 35, and 94. Much worse than potholes, Minnesotans all remember a bridge collapse that took the lives of 13 and injured 145. It is a disservice to Minnesotans that we do not have proper roadways and transportation routes for safe travel. Two of the bills I am introducing set aside funds dedicated to making sure intersections, interchanges, and structurally deficient bridges are safe, and congestion is relieved," said Emmer.
"I will also introduce a vital piece of legislation to provide improvements to the Farm Ranch Stress Assistance Network, which provides mental health assistance to the agriculture community. The improvements include expedited disbursement of funds during the COVID-19 outbreak to develop mental and emotional health resources for farmers and agricultural workers," Emmer continued.
"During the past year, farmers were forced to euthanize animals, dump milk, and watch as commodity prices declined. This took a devastating economic and mental toll. Coronavirus disrupted our nation’s supply chain as well as the lives of our producers, yet they were still expected to keep our grocery shelves stocked. These Americans are the backbone of a supply chain that feeds the nation. They deserve our support and our attention. This legislation will ensure that those in need have the proper mental health resources available," Emmer concluded.
The National Interchange/Intersection Safety Construction Program Act
The National Interchange/Intersection Safety Construction Program Act prioritizes funding for intersections and interchanges, improves safety, and increases local control over federal transportation dollars. The bill will prioritize a portion of federal highway funds for interchange and intersection development, and allow projects to compete for those funds. This legislation will not increase spending or require additional appropriations; rather, a portion of annual existing federal highway funds will be targeted for local entities to apply and compete.
Read the bill here.
The National Bridge Replacement and Improvement Act
The National Bridge Replacement and Improvement Act creates a grant program for bridge improvements, replacements or repairs. This funding will help achieve the U.S. Department of Transportation’s stated goal of eliminating the backlog of bridge projects by 2032. With state or local commitment to the project, the federal government will also contribute a portion of the funds.
Read the bill here.
The STRESS Under COVID-19 Act
The Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Under COVID-19 Act provides instructions to the United States Department of Agriculture to expedite awards under the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). The Network aims to connect farmers, ranchers, and other agriculture-related workers to mental health and stress assistance resources. It also provides an additional $10 million for this fiscal year, and increases the funds authorized to be used in the next four years by $20 million to provide more resources to the agriculture community.
The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network was first created in 2008, but it did not receive any funding and therefore lapsed. Emmer introduced the STRESS Act in 2018, which renewed FRSAN and brought attention to Americans in rural areas who suffer from a lack of access to mental health care. The STRESS Act language was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, and the program was reauthorized. Since then, Emmer has led the way to provide the needed funding for this program to carry out its mission in each appropriations cycle.
Read the bill here.