Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 21, 2016

Reaction to broadband battle at the Minnesota Legislature: how much, how fast, who gets first dibs on broadband

Leading up to the legislative session everyone has been talking about broadband. On Thursday, broadband was discussed in the House – on Monday (today!) it will be discussed at the Senate. Here’s what the local press is saying about how broadband is shaping up after the first meeting.

Quick side note – I firmly believe that broadband is a hot topic this year because broadband advocates have been diligent and vocal. If you have a strong feeling about the importance of broadband or any detail of the proposed legislation, you should continue to be diligent and vocal!

MPR News gets into the partisan issues…

Democrats complain Baker’s plan doesn’t go far enough or ensure that quality Internet will be the eventual outcome. They’re siding with Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to spend $100 million on broadband. That’s roughly 20 percent of Dayton’s supplemental budget plan.

Republicans have questioned the need for a package the size of Dayton’s given the promise of significant federal money. An amendment to reach Dayton’s mark was ruled out of order in the House committee. But anything short of that will leave too many places out or result in slower connections for those that get grants, said Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul.

And a little bit about speeds…

The debate isn’t just about money. There are questions about the level of public involvement in typically private offerings, the requirements for minimum download and upload speeds and whether the projects can keep up with fast-changing technology.

The Daily Globe focuses on the money..

Dayton called for $100 million as a step toward reaching his goal of every Minnesotan having a broadband connection. A strong House broadband supporter, Republican Rep. Dave Baker of Willmar, brought up a bill providing $35 million.
Either is more than the $10 million approved a year ago, but arguments abound about the proper level.

“We need to put our money where our rhetoric is about broadband,” Dayton said.

The $100 million he wants would not have to be spent in the next year, the governor said, but if money remains it could be used to expand broadband later.

A House committee has approved Baker’s $35 million request, but several steps remain before the money could become available.


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