From the Minnesota Broadband Coalition…
House Passes $25 million for Broadband Funding
The Minnesota House passed HF 4366—the omnibus Agriculture, Housing, and Broadband bill—just before midnight last night 70-62. The vote came after 2 hours of debate. Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-Int’l Falls) again expressed concern that the bill’s $25 million in general fund is not a large enough investment given the need to secure funds for this summer’s construction season. He was joined by Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), who outlined the pitfalls of limited state investment and deep uncertainty of federal funding through RDOF, ARPA, and the forthcoming BEAD funds. The bill was sent to the Senate for further action.
The Senate will likely take up their own similar bill this week and pass it. The Senate version contains $110 million in Capital Projects Fund money and no general funds. We expect a conference committee to be appointed after the Senate version of the bill is passed and sent to the House. Conference Committee chairs will work to find common ground on same and similar positions within the bill. From there, negotiations will likely be kicked up to the leadership level, where the Governor, House Speaker, and Senate Majority Leader will have final say on the source and how much broadband funding will be included in the final spending package.