In an editorial in AgWeek, Senator Westrom (Chair of the Minnesota Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance ) said…
New to the Agriculture Committee this session is oversight on rural broadband expansion. From health care to education, broadband access is essential to our way of life in the 21st century. I regularly hear from rural residents and small business owners that a lack of broadband limits their ability to flourish in Greater Minnesota, much like a lack of electricity did 75 years ago.
I have long been a proponent of rural broadband expansion, authoring multiple bills that funded projects to expand broadband access. In 2014, the Minnesota Legislature created the Border to Border Development Grant Program to provide state resources in building broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of our state. Every year since, the Legislature has passed funding for this program. Unfortunately, the previous governor vetoed the Legislature’s appropriation for this program in 2018. This session, I have joined a bipartisan group of senators authoring legislation to invest $70 million in broadband expansion over the next two years.
Broadband expansion benefits everyone, from students doing homework to businesses in Greater Minnesota. I look forward to growing our rural economy through policies that benefit Minnesota families. Through working across the aisle, we can improve our state, economy, and way of life.