Latest on MN House Omnibus bill – includes $15 million for broadband

The Session Daily reports on the status of the Omnibus bill…

HF4289as amended, sponsored by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), would appropriate $14.6 million from the General Fund and $27.7 million from the Renewable Development Account to fund more than 30 projects and grants, but it also includes some policy provisions that have raised concerns from the DFL and Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration.

The House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee heard an overview and some public testimony of the 95-page omnibus bill Wednesday. The committee plans to hear more testimony Thursday and will discuss potential amendments to the bill – and vote on it – Friday.

They highlight funding for broadband…

The committee was given a spreadsheet that shows all the funding appropriations in the bill, with money going to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor and Industry and the Public Facilities Authority.

DEED would receive the most money, with $15 million from the General Fund in Fiscal Year 2019 going to the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.

“I don’t know if people realize … that this is not a budget year and yet, with a little bit of surplus money that we had, this committee was given $15 million of new money and the entirety of that money is allocated to Border-to-Border Broadband,” said Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset), who sponsors the initial broadband funding bill.

The appropriation for broadband is only half the amount Dayton asked for in his supplemental budget, with DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy saying she’s “concerned” the appropriation won’t be enough to keep pace with the need for broadband expansion.

“I encourage you, if funding is found, to increase the investments to meet the governor’s level to ensure Minnesota families have access and Minnesota businesses are able to compete,” Hardy said.

Commissioners from other departments impacted in the bill also testified about their concerns, with most focusing on items that didn’t match the governor’s budget recommendations. Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman also noted the bill includes funding for grants they haven’t had the chance to analyze to see if they’d be able to provide appropriate oversight.

More info on the meeting today from the Committee…

Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Date/Time/Location:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

5:00 PM to 11:00 PM

Basement State Office Building
Committee Chair:

Rep. Pat Garofalo
Agenda:

HF4289 (Pat Garofalo)
Renewable energy project funding provided, and money appropriated.

Public testimony of Jobs and Energy omnibus bill

The amendment deadline for language properly drafted to the DE is 2 PM on Thursday

This entry was posted in MN, MN Broadband Fund Awards, MN Office of Broadband Development, 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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