Sometimes the big decisions made about broadband really don’t relate to broadband

Someone asked me the other day – who is opposed to broadband? The answer is no one. It would be like being against apple pie. BUT there are people who have different priorities – or extenuating circumstances.

The Free Press reminds us of that perspective in a recent story on How Cities View the 2018 Legislative Session…

There was some good work done at the Minnesota Legislature this year, according to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. But there were also bad politics and standoffs at play that turned into an ugly legislative process for the state.

That’s the crux behind the coalition’s breakdown of the 2018 legislative session: There were more political standoffs, more closed-door meetings, more omnibus legislation that complicated voting for serious policy and funding that would have benefited rural Minnesota.

Broadband is listed by name as one of the babies thrown out with the bathwater…

“When you sign up to run, you sign up to run as a teammate of everyone else on your party,” Peterson said. “And when you get to the Legislature, you are expected to act as a teammate. Members of the Legislature don’t necessarily take kindly when people who are supposed to be on their team articulate views that are not the views generally being articulated by that team.”

Those factors often lead into large-scale omnibus bills stuffed with unrelated measures that get bogged down with partisan partisan politics. The 989-page omnibus budget bill, nicknamed #OmnibusPrime on Twitter, included everything from broadband funding to surveys on how anglers feel about stocking in Minnesota lakes.

The final version of the bill was introduced three hours before this year’s legislative deadline and ultimately failed to clear the Legislature. Aside from the aforementioned broadband funding, job training money, child care funding and money to fix streets in small cities were also rolled into the failed omnibus bill.

The article also had a fix (according to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities)..

So how do cities address the increasing discontent with Minnesota’s legislative process?

Peterson said the coalition would continue to work with lawmakers and candidates to inform them about key issues. The coalition believes keeping lawmakers informed about rural issues, rather than trying to push legislative fixes, will better benefit Greater Minnesota.

For broadband proponents, I think it’s good that broadband is still on everyone’s mind and that it had bipartisan support. We just need to make sure it continues to be on the radar.

This entry was posted in Funding, 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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