House and Senate to discuss on Monday: House says $40M and Senate says $85M

The Legislature will be discussing the broadband bill on Monday. The Senate will hear about broadband during the Finance meeting that starts at 8:30 in room 1200 of the new Senate Office Building. Representative Garofalo’s committee is scheduled to meet at noon in room 10 of State Office Building. That could be a long meeting. It may continue after hours. To prepare folks I just wanted to share what I was able to glean. (I will try to post time & location updates if I get any.)

Time update for Senate mtg: I am in the House meeting now. Broadband was been shifted to tomorrow (April 19) at 8:30 in the Senate Building.

HOUSE VERSION

On Thursday, the House Jobs Bill was posted online, including several provisions for broadband. (Broadband comes up on pages 8-9 and 67-71.) BUT before you read that – know that they also posted amendments to that version. It looked like portions of the first document had been reused – sections were more reflective of discussions from previous years (like the speeds used to define broadband). Unfortunately they don’t really post an updated version – they post a combination of changes and corrected versions.

I’m going to try to outline what I understand are the highlights:

  • $15 million for broadband in 2017
  • $25 million for broadband in 2018
  • The focus is on opportunity to create and retain jobs

Specifics on grant applications:

  • Priority on unserved (and a list of other characteristics that would make an application more compelling)
  • May not fund more than 22 percent of total cost (There is also language saying no more than 50 percent if underserved or 25 percent if unserved.)
  • CAF money may act as match
  • An incumbent has first rights of refusal – someone can submit an application to serve an area with an existing provider but that provider will have an opportnity to commit to increasing their service to meet broadband speeds set by the state rather than have the competitor receive funds to do so
  • Prevailing wage will not apply to construction, installation, remodeling, and repair of last mile infrastructure

OBD tasks

  • Unsuccessful applicants will be told why they didn’t get a grant

Other funding

  • $500,000 is for areas with low income households (access and adoption)
  • The State will contract with someone to provide access maps of the state
  • The State will contract with someone to provide broadband adoption survey results

Definitions:

  • Underserved areas have wireline access better than 10/3 (Mbps down/Mbps up) access but less than 25/3
  • Unserved have wireline access that is less than 10/3
  • Speed goal for 2026 is 100/20

It looks like the have left in language that encourages MN to be a broadband leader:

  1. the top five states of the United States for broadband speed universally accessible
    to residents and businesses
  2. the top five states for broadband access
  3. the top 15 when compared to countries globally for broadband penetration.

SENATE VERSION

On Wednesday, the Senate announced $85 million for broadband.

Late last week they posted latest version of the broadband article.  The budget is $85 million – up to 2 percent is used for management, mapping and data collection. Otherwise, I haven’t been able to find changes since the meeting on SF 2447 and SF 2448 in late March. A quick reminder to that discussion:

  • Unserved is anyone without 25/3
  • Underserved is anyone without 100/20
This entry was posted in MN, Policy 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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