From the MN Broadband Coalition…
The Minnesota Senate passed the Agriculture Omnibus Bill SF 958 Wednesday evening 48-19. The bill includes $40 million for the Border-to-Border grant program with the possibility of up to $120 million if federal funds become available. Changes to the definition of broadband in statute (including the term fixed wireless), annual mapping changes, an increase in the state match to 55%, and $10 million set aside in the first year of the biennium for unserved areas are included in the bill. The bill is authored by Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake).
The House has moved their Agriculture Omnibus Bill HF 1524 to the floor of the House. It contains $30 million in the first year of the biennium for the grant program. We expect a debate and vote on the bill very soon. The bill was passed from the Ways and Means Committee to the floor earlier this week.
The rural electric cooperative broadband easements bill has been included as a provision in the House Commerce Omnibus Bill HF 1031. The bill is currently awaiting debate and passage on the House floor. The Senate did not include this provision in its omnibus bill.
The next step for all omnibus bills is for the House and Senate to appoint conferees to each bill. The conferees will debate and eventually resolve their differences. The final product will then be passed by the House and Senate and sent to the Governor for his signature. We will be asking the conferees to remove policy provisions and maximize the funding for the grant program.
Coalition Elects New Chair
Jay Trusty, Executive Director of the Southwest Regional Development Commission, was elected as the new Coalition Chair during our meeting on April 15. He takes over from Vince Robinson who served as chair for the past two years. We want to thank Vince for his hard work leading the Coalition. Please join us in welcoming Jay to our leadership team!