Rural communities Rally to tell Legislators not to cut broadband investment

It’s the topic of the week. People around the state are asking Legislators to reconsider the proposed cuts to broadband initiatives in the House. I have gathered the a sampling of comments from Rochester, Virginia, Grand Rapids, Albert Lea, Willmar and the Twin Cities. (Earlier I posted remarks from Kanabec County, the Iron Range and Ely.) Here’s what they are saying…

The Post Bulletin makes the point that suggesting wireless for rural areas is like suggesting generators over getting rural homes on the power grid…

House Republicans seemingly abandoned their broadband leadership role within a week of returning from spring break. Rep. Pat Garofalo introduced the House’s Energy and Economic Development Budget bill last week without any broadband funding. The Farmington Republican said creating hardwired systems for rural broadband is too expensive, pointing to wireless and satellite Internet as cheaper options.

Why not take his argument a step further and note that new homes being built in Rochester don’t actually need to be connected to the power grid. A variety of generators are available at home improvement stores, which could serve the same purpose without requiring Rochester Public Utilities to incur the added expense of new lines.

The Mesabi Daily News appreciates broadband investment in their area and doesn’t appreciate a political move that starts with no funding for broadband…

We fully understand the next five weeks will see a lot of traditional game-playing before a final budget is crafted. That’s just part of the annual political theater and ritual in St. Paul.

But to have an important House committee begin the process with no money for broadband is just ridiculous. And, obviously, a terrible starting point for negotiations.

Those of us in Greater Minnesota are sick and tired of politicians talking about the needs of rural areas only to then fail miserably on their follow-through.

Broadband is vital to the growth and economic development and vitality of Greater Minnesota.

The Grand Rapids Herald suggests that a push from the public is needed to help improve the broadband budget…

The decision not to fund broadband by the House Job Growth & Energy Affordability Finance Committee is far from the final say on the issue. In fact, it could be considered the first of many skirmishes in the session over broadband funding.

The session has about five weeks to go, and the serious bargaining is still a couple weeks away. There will be House and Senate differences on the issue, conference committee negotiations and the governor will certainly have his say in those talks and then would have to sign off on any final bill.

But Omerza and others with the CGMC said it will take grassroots Greater Minnesota lobbying to reverse the House committee’s decision.

The Albert Lea Tribune focuses on legislators claim to be focusing on rural…

With a little more than a month to go until the end of the legislative session, we ask legislators to remember the emphasis they declared on rural Minnesota when they started the session.

With some of the bills and issues discussed in the last week, it leaves us to wonder whether that is still a goal.

The House Job Growth & Energy Affordability Finance Committee has proposed eliminating funding to build out broadband Internet access across Minnesota. This a step backward from the funding approved last year for Greater Minnesota.

According to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and the Greater Minnesota Partnership, nearly 40 percent of Greater Minnesota households lack access to broadband at the state speed goals compared to only 6.7 percent of households in the metro area.

Greater Minnesota’s economy and quality of life is affected by this access to high quality broadband service.

The West Central Tribune also reminds Legislators to think rural…

For all their campaigning in 2014 on the importance of rural Minnesota, House Republicans in their budget proposal have chosen to invest $0 for the state’s broadband assistance program.

This is very disappointing to everyone in rural Minnesota.

Rural Minnesota will continue to fall behind in broadband access and, in turn, the critical factors of quality of life, education, economic opportunities, access to health care and many other positive benefits.

MHTA makes a call to their membership, I suspect many of their members are more urban than rural so I especially appreciate the recognition that better broadband in rural areas is better for everyone…

Future funding for the Office of Broadband Development and the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program is at a critical moment. Recently, the House Committee on Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance released its Omnibus Jobs bill, which eliminates the Office of Broadband Development and defunds the Border-to-Border Development Grant Program.   We need your help to continue funding for this important office and program. CLICK HERE to contact key House members and CLICK HERE to contact key senators. Please let them know how important it is to continue funding for the Office of Broadband Development and Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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