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Bill would expand northern border commission another decade

February 17, 2022 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A bill introduced Thursday by a group of U.S. senators in northern New England would allow a 10-year reauthorization for a commission that provides funding and jobs for economic development projects across the region.

The Northern Border Regional Commission bill “encourages business retention and expansion, invests in public infrastructure and promotes tourism,” a news release from New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office said.

The bill broadens the commission’s ability to award grants to projects to address the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders; child care and health care needs; and housing construction or rehabilitation.

It adds New Hampshire’s Merrimack County and Maine’s Lincoln County as newly eligible to receive funds.

The bill increases the annual appropriation cap from $33 million to $50 million for the first five years, and $60 million for the next five.

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“I look forward to the Senate acting swiftly on this bill so we can deliver important resources to rural communities, especially as we recover from the pandemic,” Shaheen, a Democrat, said in a statement.

She introduced the bill, along with fellow Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Susan Collins of Maine.

Leahy said “future generations of Vermonters will continue to benefit from its support for their communities and local economies.”

Collins said the commission serves as a critical resource for northern and central Maine and that the investments it supports “will help to ensure that rural communities have the tools they need to prosper.”

Bill cosponsors include Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, both independents; and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, both Democrats.

The commission also supports projects in New York.

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