The League of Minnesota Cities reports…
Both House and Senate omnibus agriculture policy and finance bills include $100 million in additional one-time general fund spending over the next biennium for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program that assists with broadband infrastructure deployment in hard-to-reach areas.
The House bill, HF 2278 (Rep. Samantha Vang, DFL-Brooklyn Center) as amended by a delete-all amendment (pdf) and the Senate bill, SF 1955 (Aric Putnam, DFL-St. Cloud) as amended by a delete-all amendment (pdf), include identical language that fully funds the Office of Broadband Development, provides additional resources for the grant program, and makes permanent the Low-Density Broadband Development Grant Program that was introduced as a pilot program last session.
Specific provisions in the bill regarding broadband include:
- An additional $100 million in one-time funding over the next biennium for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.
- Of the $100 million, $20 million is reserved each year of the biennium for the lower population density grant program.
- Elimination of the pilot program for lower population density proposals and establishes in statute a permanent Lower-Density Broadband Development Grant Program that is eligible to fund awards up to 75% of the total project cost rather than 50% for normal border-to-border grants.
The League will continue to work with stakeholders, bill authors, and the conference committee to ensure this language remains in the final agreed upon agriculture omnibus bill.