North Star Newsletter: The 2015 State of the Union Address

Senator Al Franken
2015-01-29 15:59:48
North Star Newsletter | January 2015 The 2015 State of the Union Address Last week, President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address, and this year, I was glad to see he put such a focus on building a strong middle class. Our economy always does better when we build it from the middle out, so I was pleased to see the President talk about things like making higher education more affordable and preparing people for high-skilled 21st century jobs—both have been top priorities of mine. My guest to the event was Joelle Stangler, student body president at the University of Minnesota. I first met Joelle during a series of college affordability roundtables I held, where she told me about her and her family's struggle to pay for school. We have a fundamental challenge with student debt in this country, and it needs to be addressed. That's why I've been pushing my bill to let more than 550,000 borrowers in Minnesota alone refinance their student debt at lower rates. We have a lot of work to do this year, and while the political landscape in Washington may have changed, my values haven't, and I'm going to keep fighting for middle-class families and those aspiring to be in the middle class in Minnesota and across the country. Kicking off Rural Health Initiative Rural communities all across Minnesota face unique challenges when it comes to delivering quality health care to their residents. As the co-chair of the Senate's bipartisan Rural Health Caucus, I wanted to hear directly from those communities on what challenges they face and what we can do to fix them. That's why I kicked off my Rural Health Initiative earlier this month. Already, my staff and I have been going to communities around the state to hear from local health experts, patients, and providers on how to address the top health care needs in rural Minnesota. I've heard some great ideas so far about how to get more doctors to rural communities and about innovative health care solutions. In the coming months, I'll be looking for ways to bring these ideas to Washington to ensure that all Minnesotans, regardless of where they live, have access to top-quality health care. Protecting an Open Internet Net neutrality is the principle that all content on the Internet is treated equally. That means a blog written by a Minnesotan travels to you at the same speed as an article from the New York Times' website or a video on FoxNews.com. Why does this matter? Well, simply put, all the innovation and economic growth that we've seen come out of the Internet hasn't just happened while net neutrality was in place; it's happened because of net neutrality. Right now, the Federal Communications Commission—or FCC—is teeing up a vote on new net neutrality rules. As they do that, I want to make sure that net neutrality is protected and that deep-pocketed corporations can't pay for an Internet "fast lane" to deliver their content at quicker speeds. That would be bad not only for innovation and free speech, but also for Minnesota small businesses that need to compete. I've been pressing the FCC to adopt strong, clear rules to protect net neutrality, and I've also helped introduce a landmark piece of legislation to outlaw "fast lanes." The Internet needs to remain an open platform where everyone can participate equally. I'm committed to working to keep it that way. Protecting Consumer Data Privacy I believe that Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, and that includes the ability to control who is getting access to your sensitive personal information and who it's being shared with. That's why I've long pressed to give consumers more control of their sensitive geolocation information. I have a bill, called the Location Privacy Protection Act, to do just that. And since joining the Senate, I've worked hard to ensure that companies are keeping your location data secure. I have also asked Uber—the popular on-demand car service that lets you order a ride from your smartphone—to clarify its privacy policies in the wake of reports that they had misused customer data. Disappointed with their initial answers, I'm still pressing Uber for more information, and I look forward to a response. As technology keeps advancing, we have to keep working to ensure privacy for all Americans. To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page here: franken.senate.gov/

North Star Newsletter | January 2015

Last week, President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address, and this year, I was glad to see he put such a focus on building a strong middle class. Our economy always does better when we build it from the middle out, so I was pleased to see the President talk about things like making higher education more affordable and preparing people for high-skilled 21st century jobs—both have been top priorities of mine.

My guest to the event was Joelle Stangler, student body president at the University of Minnesota. I first met Joelle during a series of college affordability roundtables I held, where she told me about her and her family's struggle to pay for school. We have a fundamental challenge with student debt in this country, and it needs to be addressed. That's why I've been pushing my bill to let more than 550,000 borrowers in Minnesota alone refinance their student debt at lower rates.

We have a lot of work to do this year, and while the political landscape in Washington may have changed, my values haven't, and I'm going to keep fighting for middle-class families and those aspiring to be in the middle class in Minnesota and across the country.

Rural communities all across Minnesota face unique challenges when it comes to delivering quality health care to their residents. As the co-chair of the Senate's bipartisan Rural Health Caucus, I wanted to hear directly from those communities on what challenges they face and what we can do to fix them.

That's why I kicked off my Rural Health Initiative earlier this month. Already, my staff and I have been going to communities around the state to hear from local health experts, patients, and providers on how to address the top health care needs in rural Minnesota. I've heard some great ideas so far about how to get more doctors to rural communities and about innovative health care solutions.

In the coming months, I'll be looking for ways to bring these ideas to Washington to ensure that all Minnesotans, regardless of where they live, have access to top-quality health care.

Net neutrality is the principle that all content on the Internet is treated equally. That means a blog written by a Minnesotan travels to you at the same speed as an article from the New York Times' website or a video on FoxNews.com. Why does this matter? Well, simply put, all the innovation and economic growth that we've seen come out of the Internet hasn't just happened while net neutrality was in place; it's happened because of net neutrality.

Right now, the Federal Communications Commission—or FCC—is teeing up a vote on new net neutrality rules. As they do that, I want to make sure that net neutrality is protected and that deep-pocketed corporations can't pay for an Internet "fast lane" to deliver their content at quicker speeds. That would be bad not only for innovation and free speech, but also for Minnesota small businesses that need to compete.

I've been pressing the FCC to adopt strong, clear rules to protect net neutrality, and I've also helped introduce a landmark piece of legislation to outlaw "fast lanes."

The Internet needs to remain an open platform where everyone can participate equally. I'm committed to working to keep it that way.

I believe that Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, and that includes the ability to control who is getting access to your sensitive personal information and who it's being shared with.

That's why I've long pressed to give consumers more control of their sensitive geolocation information. I have a bill, called the Location Privacy Protection Act, to do just that. And since joining the Senate, I've worked hard to ensure that companies are keeping your location data secure.

I have also asked Uber—the popular on-demand car service that lets you order a ride from your smartphone—to clarify its privacy policies in the wake of reports that they had misused customer data.

Disappointed with their initial answers, I'm still pressing Uber for more information, and I look forward to a response. As technology keeps advancing, we have to keep working to ensure privacy for all Americans.

To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page here: