Duluth News Tribune posts an editorial from Representative Rob Ecklund. Here’s a portion of that letter…
The legislation I championed would help expand broadband access to more folks who have no internet access (unserved) and to those who have woefully inadequate access (underserved). Once COVID-19 hit, I refocused my broadband-development bill on removing some of the specific barriers Minnesotans without decent internet access are suddenly facing, splitting it into three separate targeted areas.
First, the bill would invest an additional $10 million toward our state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. Since 2014, this proven program has leveraged private dollars to expand access to more than 49,900 homes and businesses.
The bill also would create a new Distance Learning Broadband Access Grant Program — with a $15 million investment — to reimburse school districts for costs related to providing students with the equipment necessary to access learning materials on the internet during our peacetime emergency.
Finally, the bill would create the Telemedicine Equipment Reimbursement Grant Program, funded at $2 million, to reimburse health care providers and counties that purchase and install telemedicine equipment to provide COVID-19-related health care services.
t’s time for lawmakers to move forward with robust broadband development investments, not just to meet our current needs under a pandemic but to help our whole state reach its long-term potential.