From the MN Broadband Coalition news alert…
Bonding Bill Passes During 5th Special Session
Saint Paul, Minn.—A bonding bill has finally passed the House and Senate nearly 8 months after the 2020 regular legislative session began. SSHF1 was approved 100-34 by the House and 64-3 by the Senate. The bill includes nearly $2 billion of borrowing for public works projects as well as some small supplemental spending and a tax cuts package. Bonding bills require 60% supermajority in both chambers to pass, so both parties must work together to pass the measure. The bill’s passage was a strong display of bipartisan cooperation during a contentious election year.
No broadband funding was passed during the 5th special session as legislators wait for a second coronavirus aid package from the federal government. Negotiations in Washington have been ongoing, but a clear outcome is hard to predict at this point. Leaders have made competing proposals and walked away from the table several times in the past few months. Our hope is that the next aid package allows states to be more flexible with the funds they receive. For instance, extending the deadlines by which dollars must be spent and explicitly allowing broadband programs to qualify for funds. There is still strong support for broadband at the Minnesota Capitol, but legislators are facing a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the upcoming legislative session. A federal package that state legislators could tap to fund the Border-to-Border program would be a strong boost to broadband expansion. We will continue to monitor the negotiations at the federal level.