MN Senate passed a broadband bill on June 19 – session ended June

MN Seante Repubican Caucus reports…

On Friday, the Minnesota Senate unanimously passed a bill to distribute $27 million of emergency rural broadband funding. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a stark need for better broadband access in many rural communications for education, remote work, and telemedicine. All of these areas have been heavily impacted by the lack of internet access in Greater MN, and the Senate’s bill increases economic vitality and quality of life for Minnesotans without depleting a general fund that is already stretched thin. …

The compromise calls for $15 million to be designated in 2020 to a “distance learning broadband access grant program” for students lacking Internet access this fall. $2 million will go towards reimbursing licensed healthcare providers who invest in and install telemedicine equipment for COVID-19-related care.

The Border to Border Broadband Fund, which targets the development of broadband in unserved and underserved areas, is a significant recipient of funds in the bill and will provide substantial help for businesses, telecommuting, and distance learning. The program will receive $10 million of the $27 million appropriation. All projects will be up and running by the end of 2020, meaning guaranteed fast access for outstate communities.

It’s nice to see unanimous support for broadband. Unfortunately, the special session ended early the next day. MinnPost reports…

Senate Republicans adjourned the session, ending, at least temporarily, a debate that was often emotional, and sometimes rancorous, but one that failed to result in any police reform bills making it to the desk of Gov. Tim Walz despite some fruitful negotiations late Friday night.

The fallout was in part a result of genuine policy differences. Yet Republicans and Democrats also accused each other of being unwilling to bend in negotiations, perhaps with an eye toward the 2020 elections.

This entry was posted in 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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