From the MN Rural Broadband Coalition…
Additional Broadband Funding Bills Introduced in Senate
Saint Paul, Minn.—Two broadband bills were introduced on Tuesday, February 10 in the Minnesota Senate. Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow lake) authored both bills, SF 945 and SF 946. They were introduced and referred to the Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee where they will likely receive hearings in the coming weeks. Sen. Westrom is the chair of that committee.
SF 945 contains $120 million per biennium in ongoing funding for the Border-to-Border grant program. SF 946 also contains the same $120 million funding and has an additional $30 million ($15 million per year) specifically for unserved areas of the state. The total funding for SF 946 is $150 million.
The bill language that sets aside $30 million to unserved areas of the state is identical to a bill the Coalition worked on during the 2020 sessions. It contains the caveat that projects needing to go through an underserved area to reach an unserved area would qualify for these funds.
The Coalition is incredibly pleased to see strong interest in broadband funding in both chambers, and thanks Sen. Westrom for introducing these bills. Rep. Ecklund’s HF 14 has grown to 12 coauthors and Sen. Bakk’s SF 22 now has all five slots filled: Sens. Tomassoni, Eken, Rarick, and Jasinski are coauthors. We look forward to the upcoming conversations in House and Senate committees.