By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER

His bill to improve broadband access in rural areas became law, but U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, keeps championing further improvements.

Latta, whose 5th District covers much of northwest Ohio including Hancock County, recently hosted a discussion in Defiance with a member of the Federal Communications Commission on efforts to expand broadband access.

The Latta-authored Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, which was signed into law in December, enables farms to use the latest technology. It also benefits children doing homework and businesses needing connectivity to compete.

Latta is the Republican leader on the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

In that role, he also is working to reduce people’s interruptions from unwanted robo-calls. Besides fighting the nuisances, other work by Latta on the subcommittee has national security ramifications, he said in an interview Friday at The Courier.

The U.S. and China are in a race to become the dominant player in the next generation of wireless network technology, 5G. 5G will provide speedier connections and allow more technology advances.

China’s ambitions rival the United States’ to become the dominant global player in technology.

“I’m still being told that we’re still ahead,” Latta said, but the U.S. must remain focused on the technology’s development.

“You want to make sure your technology is out there. You don’t want to be using somebody else’s technologies,” he said. “They might be able to do something to your system.”

Latta and other lawmakers have an important role in the race: “You want to make sure you have the laws and the regulations on the books in the right way so (technology companies) can be out there deploying.

“It’s really making sure the United States is on the forefront of this,” Latta said. “We want our technology to be the one that we’re deploying, not somebody else’s technology.”

Latta, a Republican, said it has been interesting watching Democrats since they gained a majority of the seats in the U.S. House. While some Democrats are pushing for Medicare for All legislation, others within their party find it scary because it would be expensive and unpopular, he said.

He predicted Democrats will push some Medicare legislation through the House, only to have it die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“It will just go to appeal to their base,” Latta said. “They can just mark the box, ‘Did it.'”

Latta said Medicare for All would be too expensive. When Democrat Bernie Sanders was touting Medicare for All in the 2016 presidential election, even people in his own party estimated the cost at $32 to $33 trillion, Latta said.

“There’s not enough money out there,” he said.

That’s not the only expensive Democratic proposal being floated. The Green New Deal to address climate change and economic inequality would cost each American family $600,000 over 10 years, Latta said.

Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin

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