Minnesota Broadband Coalition Meeting notes – recommending $30 million for broadband

There were about 15 people in the room and probably another 10 on the phone to talk about broadband. Nancy Hoffman is stepping down as Coalition Chair; Vince Robinson will be stepping in as new Coalition Chair. The mood was positive; people seem optimistic at the prospect of getting $30M for broadband moving forward. I took pretty loose notes:

MN Broadband Grant Recipients

Funding $23 million in last fund around. If there isn’t additional funding, we will have $20 million for projects this year. There were 80 applications requesting $70 million. The weighted :

  • Projects with more than 50 percent
  • Projects with a third leg of funding
  • Projects with letters of community support
  • Tribal areas
  • Looking for geographic diversity
  • Looking for areas without coverage

We are finding that some projects that don’t get funding go on to be deployed anyway. We are open to talking to applicants that don’t get funding.

Next round of applications will likely be open in mid-June 2020.

Legislative Update

Very optimistic about the session and chances for additional broadband funding.

House controlled by DFL. Senate controlled by GOP.

It is a bonding year. So will borrow money for infrastructure. Governor came out with a $2+ billion budget. We will likely see the budgets in the next month. Needs a super majority to pass.

There are two broadband bills HF3029/SF3049 for $30 million to be added to 2020 grant cycle – and then each year forward. So it’s for $30 million per year ongoing.

Bills in House and Senate are identical. Lots of support in the House.

A second Senate bill is coming up to show more support. The Senate limits the number of coauthors so this was a good was to show support.

The Senate met about the bill yesterday – no questions. Lots of support in the room. The House meeting in Wednesday (tomorrow).

There was a great press conference in January. The Governor said he supported a one time extension of $30 million for broadband this year.

Thursday at 9am is the release of the state budget. There was a $35 billion surplus announced in November.

Possible policy bills – none released yet. Not sure what they will look like. Some folks in the senate are interested in how the money would be divided up (underserved).

Let’s get a letter of support template on the website.

Day on the Hill – March 12

Registration will be open soon.

Holding it in the State Office Bldg in room 300. Angie will be there to speak. Rep Ecklund will speak.  Talking with Governor’s office as well as Senator Draheim.

Working on something (like beads) that would make broadband proponents stand out.

Registration starts at 8am.

This entry was posted in Conferences, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

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

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