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FERC rule to spark energy transmission building nationwide; Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in AZ election interference case; new digital tool emerges to help MN students with FAFSA woes; WY governor to talk property tax shifts in a TeleTown Hall.

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Israel's Prime Minister calls the new ICC charges unfair. Trump's lawyers found more classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, months after an FBI's search. And a new report finds election deniers are advancing to the fall election.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Rural Advocates Want Less Corporate Retail in SD's Small Towns

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023   

Travel through rural parts of South Dakota and chances are you will pass a "dollar store". A new report says corporate retailers have too big a presence in smaller communities, and that certain policies could help Main Street businesses compete. The 2023 Rural Policy Action report, which has input from nearly 30 organizations, urges federal policymakers to advance bills that would strengthen antitrust laws in hopes of seeing fewer mergers, including in agribusiness.

Katy Milani, the associate director for policy and advocacy for the Independent Business Institute for Local Self-Reliance, contends big box chains have been given a lot of flexibility to add stores across rural America.

"We have seen, in the last 50 years, significant consolidation in our economy," Milani said. "You go to any town across the country and a lot of them look the same, it's the same dollar store, it's the same Walmart. "

Milani added these trends push out independent businesses, preventing small towns from taking agency over their ability to flourish. Her group notes the FTC needs stronger enforcement of laws addressing deals that bigger retailers get from suppliers, allowing them to mark down prices. Chains like Dollar General defend their growth, saying they often get requests from rural areas for new stores.

The report also calls for investment in foundational infrastructure in rural areas, such as healthcare access. The authors said these communities are more diverse than people think, and residents deserve equitable opportunities. Milani added there are too many questions that cannot be ignored.

"What does economic-racial justice, around rural issues and also gender - what does that look like?," she said.

She noted those discussions need to be free of the political divide that often clouds public discourse. The report added protecting democracy and access to voting allows diverse rural communities to have a voice on these matters without intimidation. A recommendation asks the federal government to make bigger investments in election safety and security, noting the burden often falls on state and local governments, some of which lack the resources to block threats.


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