EVENT April 29: MN Senate to meet to discuss SF4494 COVID19 broadband/tech related legislation

MN Senate committee will meet to discuss SF4494 COVID19 broadband/tech related legislation on Wednesday, April 29 at 8:30a. SF4494 (COVID-19 telemedicine equipment grant program establishment; distance learning broadband access grant program establishment; appropriations) Was introduced on April 20 and referred to Finance. Finance will discuss it on April 29 at 8:30.

Here is the short take on the funding involved:

  • $8 million for a technology reimbursement grant program for schools
  • $2 million for telemedicine equipment reimbursement program
  • $10 million to the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program (added to existing $20 million for this year and with some added restrictions)

Here is the test of the bill:

A bill for an act
relating to telecommunications; establishing a grant program for distance learning
equipment; establishing a grant program for telemedicine equipment purchased
to deal with COVID-19; requiring reports; appropriating money.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. DISTANCE LEARNING BROADBAND ACCESS GRANT PROGRAM.

Subdivision 1.

Definition.

For the purposes of this section, “commissioner” means the
commissioner of education.

Subd. 2.

Establishment.

A distance learning broadband access grant program is
established in the Department of Education to provide temporary wireless or wire-line
broadband access to students currently lacking Internet access so that the students may
participate in distance learning offered by school districts and charter schools during the
peacetime public health emergency period that relates to the infectious disease known as
COVID-19.

Subd. 3.

Eligible expenditures.

A grant awarded under this section may be used to:

(1) provide a student with a data card, USB modem, or other mobile or temporary
broadband device that enables the student to access learning materials available on the
Internet through a mobile or temporary wireless or wire-line broadband connection;

(2) reimburse a school district or charter school for actual costs incurred to provide
emergency distance learning wireless or wire-line broadband access during the 2019-2020
school year; and

(3) reimburse a school district or charter school for the cost of wireless or wire-line
broadband Internet access for households with students that did not otherwise have Internet
access before March 13, 2020, for the 2019-2020 school year.

Subd. 4.

Eligible applicants.

A Minnesota school district or charter school may apply
for a grant award under this section.

Subd. 5.

Application review.

(a) An applicant for a grant under this section must file
an application with the commissioner on a form developed by the commissioner. The
commissioner may consult with the commissioner of employment and economic development
when developing the form.

(b) An application for a grant under this subdivision must describe a school district’s or
charter school’s approach to identify and prioritize access for students unable to access the
Internet for distance learning and may include a description of local or private matching
grants or in-kind contributions.

(c) A school district or charter school may develop its application in cooperation with
the school district’s or charter school’s community education department, the school district’s
or charter school’s adult basic education program provider, a public library, an Internet
service provider, or other community partner.

(d) The commissioner must award grants under this section on a first-come, first-served
basis.

(e) The commissioner must develop administrative procedures governing the application
and grant award process.

Subd. 6.

Grant amount.

The commissioner must establish a maximum per-pupil amount
for grants awarded under this section based on (1) the number of districts and charter schools
that apply for a grant, and (2) the availability of federal money for a similar purpose.

EFFECTIVE DATE.

This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Sec. 2. TELEMEDICINE EQUIPMENT REIMBURSEMENT GRANT PROGRAM.

Subdivision 1.

Definitions.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have
the meanings given.

(b) “Commissioner” means the commissioner of employment and economic development.

(c) “Licensed health care provider” has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section
256B.0625, subdivision 3b, paragraph (e).

(d) “Telemedicine” has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 62A.671,
subdivision 9.

(e) “Telemedicine equipment” means multimedia communications equipment and
software that facilitates the delivery of telemedicine by a licensed health care provider.

Subd. 2.

Establishment.

A grant program is established in the Department of
Employment and Economic Development to award grants to reimburse licensed health care
providers that purchase and install telemedicine equipment in order to provide
COVID-19-related health care services to Minnesotans.

Subd. 3.

Eligible applicants.

A licensed health care provider is eligible to receive a
grant under this section.

Subd. 4.

Eligible expenditures.

A grant may be made under this section to reimburse
the cost incurred by a licensed health care provider to purchase and install telemedicine
equipment that enables the licensed health care provider to diagnose and evaluate patients
with respect to the infectious disease known as COVID-19.

Subd. 5.

Application; review.

(a) An applicant for a grant under this section must file
an application with the commissioner on a form developed by the commissioner. The
commissioner may consult with the commissioners of commerce, human services, and
health when developing the form.

(b) The commissioner must award grants under this section on a first-come, first-served
basis.

(c) The commissioner must develop administrative procedures governing the application
and grant award process.

(d) When awarding grants, the commissioner must consult with the commissioner of
health to determine areas of the state with the greatest need for telemedicine equipment.

Subd. 6.

Limitation

The commissioner may establish a maximum amount for a grant
awarded under this section based on the number of applications received and the total
reimbursement amount requested.

EFFECTIVE DATE.

This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Sec. 3. APPROPRIATION.

(a) $8,000,000 in fiscal year 2020 is appropriated from the general fund to the
commissioner of employment and economic development for transfer to the commissioner
of education for emergency distance learning wireless or wire-line broadband access for
student grants for school districts and charter schools under section 1. Up to five percent of
the appropriation under this paragraph may be used to reimburse reasonable costs incurred
by the Department of Education to administer section 1. This is a onetime appropriation.
Any funds that remain unexpended on September 30, 2020, are transferred to the
border-to-border broadband fund account established in Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.396.
By December 1, 2020, the commissioner of education must report to the legislature regarding
the number of districts and charter schools that received grants under section 1 and the
number of students that were provided Internet access. The report must also identify the
costs to administer the grant program and the amount transferred to the border-to-border
broadband fund.

(b) $2,000,000 in fiscal year 2020 is appropriated from the general fund to the
commissioner of employment and economic development to award grants for the purchase
of telemedicine equipment under section 2. Up to five percent of the appropriation under
this paragraph may be used to reimburse the reasonable costs incurred by the Department
of Employment and Economic Development to administer section 2. This is a onetime
appropriation. Any funds that remain unexpended on September 30, 2020, are transferred
to the border-to-border broadband fund account established in Minnesota Statutes, section
116J.396. By December 31, 2020, the commissioner of employment and economic
development must report to the legislature regarding the number of applications received
under section 2, the number of grants awarded, the maximum and minimum grant amounts
awarded, and the mean and median grant amounts awarded. The report must also identify
the costs to administer the grant program and the amount transferred to the border-to-border
broadband fund.

(c) $10,000,000 in fiscal year 2021 is appropriated from the general fund to the
commissioner of employment and economic development for deposit in the border-to-border
broadband fund account established in Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.396. Before July
1, 2021, the appropriation must be used only to provide broadband service in unserved
areas, except that broadband infrastructure, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section
116J.394, for that purpose may be placed in underserved areas. Beginning July 1, 2021, the
appropriation may be used for grants and the purposes described in Minnesota Statutes,
section 116J.395. Notwithstanding the limitation in Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.395,
subdivision 7, paragraph (a), the grants are available for 55 percent of total project cost if
the grant is matched by ten percent or more from a nonstate entity. The nonstate entity
providing the match may include but is not limited to organized townships, cities, counties,
foundations, nonprofits, school districts, or higher education institutions. This is a onetime
appropriation.

EFFECTIVE DATE.

This section is effective the day following final enactment.

This entry was posted in Conferences, Funding, 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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