It’s a concise update from JD Supra…
This week, the House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division heard HF 7, one of the first bills introduced this session. As introduced, HF 7, authored by Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls), appropriates $35 million in fiscal year 2020 and $35 million in fiscal year 2021 from the general fund to the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to deposit in the Border-to-Border Broadband fund account.
During the meeting, the committee adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) appropriating an additional $15 million to be made available the day after HF 7’s final enactment, totaling a $85 million investment through 2021 to subsidize the development of broadband coverage throughout greater Minnesota. These appropriations will be used to accomplish the state’s statutory broadband goals. By 2022, it is a state goal to provide access to high-speed broadband with download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least three megabits per second to all Minnesota homes and businesses, aiming to place Minnesota in the top five states for broadband access.
Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED, said HF 7 is a “critical, foundational piece” for the state because it ensures all Minnesotans, not just those in the metro area, have the ability to succeed. All testifiers advocated for the passage of the bill, indicating the indispensability of high-speed internet for businesses in rural areas to flourish and compete with their metropolitan counterparts. One testifier indicated broadband access is especially important for rural residents because a number of them access their doctor via webcam, saving them from driving hundreds of miles to the nearest hospital.
HF 7 was passed on a voice vote and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Its companion bill in the Senate is SF 9, authored by Sen. Mark Koran (R-North Branch).