MN Senate Committee – keep broadband bills for possible inclusion in omnibus

Here are notes and video on the MN Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance. Spoiler alert – they laid over broadband bills for possible inclusion in omnibus.

Everyone was positive about the bills (esp SF9 and SF1231). There were no speakers in opposition. Senators had good questions but nothing negative.

S.F. 9-Koran: Broadband grant program appropriation.

S.F. 1231-Draheim: Broadband grant program appropriation.

Intro from Steve Grove & Danna Mackenzie

Nancy Hoffman – Chisago County & MN Rural Broadband Coalition
Representing more than 80 organization
SF9 is the top goal of our Coalition
$70 million for grants is a top priority
We (communities and providers) need consistent and stable funding to make border to border broadband happen.

Daniel Lightfoot, LMC
Boradband means jobs, education, healthcare
120 MN cities lack wires broadband at speeds of 25/3
We need to plan for 2026 goals of 100/20

Ann Schwagerl, MN Famer Union in Big Stone County
We got a MN grant and now we have fiber. It helps me as a farmer and business owner. Broadband helps me maximize economic opportunity. I can buy and sell directly. I am a better farmer with better broadband.
Question – what happened in Big Stone?
FTTH to everyone. Half funded through the state, bonding through the county. Worked with Federated/Farmers Telephone and the County.

Brent Christensen, MTA
Support SF9
We have 4 years of data that proves that these grants work to build out broadband with public and private funding. If MN Grants were available this year, our members would have applied for $27.7 million in investment (state) leveraging $31 million grants to build better broadband.

John Dukich, MHTA
Support SF9 & SF 1231
We still have houses that need broadband. Funding will help us reach the 2022 goals.
$35 million each year for 3 years should help us get to the 2022 speed goals of 25/3.

Barbara Droher Kline, Le Sueur County Broadband Coalition
We had only Frontier dialup when we moved to the County. We first upgrades to fixed wireless, which was OK until bad weather and more people started using it. I can’t run my business. I’m ready to write a grant. We wouldn’t be here without Blandin.
Frontier accidentally cut off my neighbor’s phone and internet for days. Her friends, family and healthcare providers were worried.

S.F. 807-Ruud: Mountain Iron economic development authority fiber optic broadband network extension appropriation.

$3,200,000 in fiscal year 2020 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development for a grant to the Mountain Iron Economic Development Authority to extend an existing fiber optic broadband network operated by the Northeast Service Cooperative from Willow River to Pine City and from Cromwell to

John Loffler, NESC – our backhaul is at 4 Gig – with this we could upgrade to 200 Gig. Second goal would be to help broadband providers access our infrastructure.

Joe Buttweiler – CTC – we are a provider that would like to use NESC

What’s up with the grant challenges? We need to call people out when providers challenge potential grant applications and don’t follow through.
NESC applied, incumbents challenged, we stepped back, we don’t know if the challengers built up.

This is a project that is really needed.

All bills are laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

1 thought on “MN Senate Committee – keep broadband bills for possible inclusion in omnibus

  1. I’m old enough to remember when broadband grant funding died following a veto of a War and Peace sized Omnibus Prime Bill. Didn’t the Governor, Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate agree not to use omnibus bills this session? Or did I just dream that?

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