Here’s the latest from the Minnesota Broadband Coalition…
Rural Coalition Makes Push for Bi-Partisan Funding for Broadband in Minnesota
St. Paul—”The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition’s number one priority is funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program this year,” said Nancy Hoffman, Chair of the Coalition. “We are pleased to announce that bills with broad, bi-partisan support have been introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate to provide $51.48 million to Grant Program in 2018. We appreciate Senator Mark Koran and Representative Sandy Layman for their leadership.”
Senate File 2787 and House File 3527 will continue the momentum to bring broadband internet service to Minnesotans currently lacking adequate service. In 2017, Minnesota’s Governor’s Task Force on Broadband recommends $71.48 million per biennium in on-going funding over the next four years. This will provide broadband internet speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps to the 252,000 households that currently lack such service—and will help Minnesota achieve its statutory broadband speed goal of connecting all Minnesotans with broadband internet speeds of 100 Mbps/20 Mbps by 2026.
“Reliable broadband service is a huge priority to my area,” said Senator Mark Koran (R-North Branch). “We have a patchwork of highly successful areas and rural areas that are underserved and will have a difficult time reaching the goals without state assistance. This is an area where government needs to step in and help achieve economic success.”
“In my district and across northern Minnesota, we know full well how difficult finding reliable broadband internet can be. Our schools, businesses, health care providers, and communities will fall behind if we don’t act. That’s why I’ve made funding the grant program a priority this session,” said Rep Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset).
“Funding the Border-to-Border program ensures our communities in rural Minnesota will continue to thrive. Last year, the Legislature provided $20 million in one-time funding, and there were over $70 million in grant applications,” added Hoffman. “Last year’s grant awards leveraged an additional $34 million private sector and other investments. We know there are projects ready to go if the Legislature funds this program this year, that’s why it’s so critical.”
SF2787 is co-sponsored by Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth), Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisolm), Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls), and Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids).
HF3527 is cosponsored by Representatives Rob Ecklund (DLF-International Falls), Dave Baker (R- Willmar), Mike Sundin (DFL-Esko), Ann Neu (R-North Branch), John Poston (R-Lake Shore), Dale Lueck (R-Aitkin, John Considine (DFL-Mankato), Jason Mesta (DFL-Virginia), Ben Lien (DFL-Moorhead),Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth), Jeff Howe (R- Rockville), Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont), Jason Rarick (R-Pine City), Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa), Matt Bliss (R-Pennington), Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), Deb Kiel (R-Crookston), Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), Julie Sandstede, (DFL-Hibbing), Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls), Jen Schultz (DFL-Duluth), Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), Clark Johnson (DFL-North Mankato), Barb Haley (R-Red Wing), Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley) and Tim Mahoney (DFL-St.Paul).
The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition is a grassroots coalition of over 70 local government, economic development agencies, education, health care, businesses and organizations across Minnesota who believe everyone should have access to convenient, affordable world-class broadband networks. More information about the coalition and the work it does can be found at http://www.mnbroadbandcoalition.com.
For more information contact:
Judy Erickson: 612-961-5158