Today the MN Broadband Coalition hosted the fourth annual Broadband Day on the Hill (DOTH). You can see the video of the day (almost in its entirety) and the agenda below. On a high level, it was great to have folks from around Minnesota tell the legislators that broadband is important, the mapping is not accurate and we need to find new ways to reach the hardest to serve.
It was interesting to feel the vibe at the Capitol, which is all about the coronavirus. In the morning, Representative Ecklund started by telling us what a game changer coronavirus has been and how right now there a need to prepare for emergencies. (Yesterday the University of Minnesota moved classes online – great for those who have broadband!) Rep Ecklund, Senator Draheim and Lt Governor Peggy Flanagan voiced support for broadband. Asked the room to keep fighting the good fight. But also conceded that right now coronavirus is getting the attention.
No where was that most evident than Governor Walz’s 2020 supplemental budget recommendations announced this morning (same time as the broadband activities)…
In his 2022 supplemental budget proposal the Governor is proposing general fund budget changes, including the general fund impact of the 2020 Local Jobs and Projects Plan released in January, that total $346 million. The Governor’s priority with this budget proposal is ensuring fiscal stability and addressing emergency response and preparedness needs across the state.
Broadband was not a part of the recommendations, although we were left with the impression that it was under serious consideration. As former Senator Becky Lourey pointed out, “Our timing is good. We can meet with our representatives and tell them how broadband can facilitate many tactics proposed to slow the spread of coronavirus – telehealth, telework, elearning and more.”
Broadband is a tool to help get Minnesotans through the risk of coronavirus, but only for those with access. It’s important that policymakers remember the need for ubiquitous coverage when they suggest strategies such as moving UMN classes online, moving public meetings online or suggest people work from home or they run the risk of creating (deepening) an equity gap!
- 9:15am: Legislative Update—Nathan Zacharias
- 9:30am: Bill authors Rep. Rob Ecklund; Sen. Rich Draheim
- 9:45am: DEED Commissioner Steve Grove
- 10:00am: Update from the Office of Broadband—Angie Dickison, Director
- 10:15am: Legislative Meeting Tips—Nathan Zacharias
- 10:30am: Legislative Meetings (On your own)
- 12:40pm: Meet and Greet with Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan