EVENT May 11 (2:45pm): Conference Committee on HF4366 – Omnibus Agriculture, Housing & Broadband

A quick note for folks who want to watch in real time – the Conference Committee is meeting this afternoon and the event will be livestreamed. I will try to watch and capture the broadband discussions; the schedule is subject to change with little warning.

Here’s the info from the MN Leg site…

Location: Remote Hearing
Chair: Rep. Mike Sundin

Agenda:

I. Review of agriculture-related funding provisions that are contained in both bills
II. Review of selected House only agriculture provisions
– MDA IT
– Beginning Farmer Tax Credit
– Bioincentives language
– Hunger relief initiative
– Farm down payment initiative
III. Review of selected Senate only agriculture items (if time allows)
– ACRRA maximum reimbursement/payment increase
– Regulated animal exemptions modified
– Compensation to Certain White-tailed Deer Farmers
– Certain solar energy systems allowed in agricultural preserves
IV. Adoption of same agriculture language items (if time allows)

*House holds the gavel.

HF4366 / SF4019 Omnibus agriculture, housing and broadband bill.

House conferees: Sundin, Hausman, Howard, Vang, Theis
Senate conferees: Westrom, Draheim, Dornink, Pratt, Dziedzic

Meeting material will be posted on the House Agriculture Committee page https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/committees/home/92001

This remote hearing may be viewed via the House webcast schedule page: https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/schedule.asp All events are closed-captioned.

To provide feedback on digital accessibility of meeting information, please submit comments through the Minnesota Legislature Accessibility & Usability Comment Form. If you require an accommodation, please contact John Howe at: John.Howe@house.mn or by leaving a message at 651-296-3208. Please do not contact him with questions about the substance of the meeting agenda. To learn more about requesting an accommodation, please visit the FAQs for Disability Access.

Written comment (PDF file format) submitted to nancy.conley@house.mn and joel.hanson@senate.mn by noon on May 11, 2022 will be posted and shared with members.

Committee Documents:
CC spreadsheet comparison.pdf
Ag appropriations articles side-by-side.pdf
Ag Articles side-by-side.pdf
MN Realtors Written Comment on Housing.pdf
HF4366 SameSimDiff (AgOnly).pdf
HOM Written Comment on Housing.pdf
AARP Written Comment on Broadband .pdf

MN Omnibus that includes Broadband comparison Conference Committee – now each side deliberates

Today the following was held:

Conference Committee on HF4366

HF4366 (Sundin/Westrom) Omnibus agriculture, broadband and housing supplemental finance and policy bill.

Items included:
– Introductory comments.
– Walk through of side-by-sides and spreadsheet by nonpartisan House and Senate staff.
– Agency comments.

I have captured the moments related to broadband. Nothing surprising. And now the plan is for House and Senate to meet separately to decide what they can agree on easily and what will require more discussion. Then they will meet to try to come to an agreement.

Le Sueur County Broadband Fair getting local attention to build greatest demand for better broadband

Le Sueur County News covered the Broadband Fair in Le Sueur County. I wrote about it as well and have told the story of Le Sueur over several posts. But it’s great to see it in the local newspaper – and I wanted to include the comment from the frontline that caught my attention…

“I can walk to town faster than I can get a connection,” said Peterson.

And some info on the event…

Seeking to fix their internet woes, the Petersons and dozens of households went to the Le Sueur County Broadband Fair on Thursday. The Le Sueur County Fairgrounds gathering featured a variety of broadband providers and information on how residents could bring fiber to their doors.

“We know there are people who could get better service but don’t know who from. This has just been a terrific discussion,” said Le Sueur County Broadband Initiative Coordinator Barbara Droher-Kline. “One woman was here who knew she was two miles away from fiber and negotiating a 50/50 split with a provider. She might be able to get it this summer. That doesn’t happen a whole lot.”

Seeking federal funding

Le Sueur County is asking Senators Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and Tina Smith (DFL-MN) to appropriate federal dollars to build fiber out to every household in the county. If successful, the proposal would require $12 million to build off existing fiber optic networks to all residences, farms, and businesses along all of the rural roads in the county, along 96 miles of state roads, 310 miles of township roads, and 486 miles of county roads.

The proposal includes Cleveland Township, Cordova Township, Elysian Township, Kasota Township, Kilkenny Township, Lexington Township, Montgomery Township, Ottawa Township, Sharon Township, Tyrone Township, Washington Township and Waterville Township.

EVENT May 11: NTIA’s IIJA Broadband Programs Pre-NOFO TA Webinar #5

From NTIA…

Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Time: 2:30pm-4:00pm EST
NTIA’s pre-Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) technical assistance webinars are designed to help prospective applicants understand NTIA’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) broadband grant programs and to assist applicants to prepare high quality grant applications. This webinar will focus on supply chains and workforce development.
To review information from our past pre-NOFO technical assistance webinars, please visit the past events section on the BroadbandUSA website.
For questions, please email: broadbandforall@ntia.gov.
Register now!

Le Sueur County Broadband Fair – well attended, good questions and tour of local wellness center

The Blandin Broadband crew attended the Le Sueur County Broadband Fair on Thursday. Hosted by the Le Sueur County Broadband Initiative, it looked like a pretty simple setup but it got a lot done. Providers were invited to set up a table. There local broadband team created a few “booths” that promoted the Affordable Connectivity Program (broadband subsidies to households that need it) and other funding opportunities like Congressionally Directed Spending. There was a vendor selling delicious BBQ and a few places to sit.

The event was very well attended. I would guess 60+ people through the event.

Getting people together to chat freely about broadband was a great idea. A lot of customers got to the right people – even if that just meant letting off some steam. A lot of potential customers heard from a number of providers. Engineers from the County chatted with different providers about where the fiber really is. Providers looking at maps and realizing that they can more towers now that the original community has FTTH.

Before the event, we attended the broadband steering committee, where we heard them plan contingency upon contingency based on what funding comes in and through which door it arrives. Le Sueur broadband is a study in persistence and resilience.

Also, we learned about the Clubhouse for folks with mental health issues in Le Center and ended up visiting it the next day. It’s a terrific community-led spot for folks with persistent and/or constituent mental health issues to go to learn skills, build friendships or just get away from the other parts of their world that might be causing stress. You can see our tour below.

EVENT April 28: Le Sueur County Broadband Fair (in person and online)

I’m excited because the Blandin Broadband crew is planning to attend the Le Sueur County Broadband Fair on Thursday. Here are the details pulled from a flier:

Where: Le Sueur County Fairgrounds 4H building 320 S Plut Ave Le Center, MN 56057

When: Thursday, April 28, 2022 4:00pm – 7:00pm

Get more info: bkline@lsc-mn.gov

Online: Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/774258936880795/

Come and meet the broadband providers that serve the county and learn about plans to improve access to reliable service.

This event is sponsored by: Le Sueur County Blandin Broadband Initiative Le Sueur County Broadband planning initiative for reliable high-speed broadband and enhanced broadband projects as a Blandin Broadband Community

And you can learn more from a recent interview on KCHEK radio 95.5fm in Le Sueur County.

EVENT April 28: TEQuity Forum: Digital Equity Perspectives from Community Members

An event from Minnesota Literacy

TEQuity Forum: Digital Equity Perspectives from Community Members

Date: Thursday, April 28, 2022

Time: 6 – 8 p.m. Central Daylight Time (Not sure what time this is in your time zone? Use an online time zone converter. Make sure to adjust it to the two time zones you need to compare!)

Description: The third TEQuity Services seminar will provide a platform for invited community members to discuss challenges that their communities face with respect to digital equity as well as how organizations have addressed these challenges in the past. The goal is not only to shine a light on equity gaps in our communities, but also to connect potential partners. Literacy Minnesota leading partner in working with others to address challenges and advance opportunities for equitable communities, and we advance this goal through literacy services.

This training is part of the Greater Twin Cities TEQuity Services project. Greater Twin Cities TEQuity Services is a partnership between Literacy Minnesota and the NBC Universal Comcast Foundation. Literacy Minnesota will provide four free trainings for participants who live or work in Anoka, Carver, Dodge, Hennepin, Scott or Washington Counties.

Literacy Minnesota is committed to providing access for people with disabilities at our trainings and events. To request accommodations, please contact Kelly at krynda@literacymn.org or 651-251-9074 at least two weeks in advance.

Advanced registration required!

MN Broadband Task Force April 2022 notes: Funding Options

MN Broadband Task Force met today. They decided to send a note to policymakers stressing the importance of investment in broadband – especially since MN House decreased their budget for broadband from $100 million to $25 million. Also they heard from OMB about various potential funding streams.

More notes Continue reading

Greater Minnesota Partnership visits Kandiyohi County to talk about rural needs – such as broadband

The West Central Tribune reports on Scott McMahon, executive director of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, and his tour to Kandiyohi County to help listen to and lift up rural Minnesota…

On April 15, McMahon made a visit to the West Central Tribune’s office, following visits to the MinnWest Technology Campus and to area business and education leaders.

“I commend this community for how the whole tech campus happened. Not many communities could figure out how to repurpose a community asset like that,” McMahon said, referring to the transformation of the former state hospital campus in Willmar. “What you have done is remarkable.”

In 2022, as the region continues its post-pandemic recovery, the Greater Minnesota Partnership’s priorities mirror those of Willmar and Kandiyohi County — housing, child care and broadband.

He reminds the community and legislators that broadband is important (along with a few other items)…

With the state sitting on a budget surplus of $9 billion, McMahon hopes the Greater Minnesota Partnership can persuade lawmakers to spend some of that money on a variety of programs that could help answer some of these issues.

Examples include the Greater Minnesota Workforce Housing Development Fund to help build multi-family workforce housing; the Greater Minnesota Housing Public Infrastructure Grant program, which would help fund the construction of infrastructure such as utilities and roads for single-family housing developments; Greater Minnesota Child Care Facilities Capital Grant program for building and expanding child care facilities; and the state Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program to help fund broadband improvements across the state.

EVENT April 22: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Monthly Meeting

The MN Broadband Task Force is happening on Friday April April 22…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Friday, April 22, 2022

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Join with a video conferencing device

mn@m.webex.com

Video Conference ID: 111 205 119 8

Alternate VTC instructions

Or call in (audio only)

+1 651-395-7448,,702207788#   United States, St. Paul

Phone Conference ID: 702 207 788#

Find a local number | Reset PIN

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.   Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from March 24, 2022 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Legislative and OBD update

Diane Wells, Deputy Director, DEED Office of Broadband Development

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Update and discussion on subgroup topics from Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.                Break

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Grant Process – role of MMB with IIJA, Capital Projects Fund, and SLFRF Liz Connor, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB)

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, May Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

EVENT April 20: Digital Inclusion 101 Webinar

An event from NDIA…

Digital Inclusion 101 Webinar

April 20 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

Digital Inclusion practitioners have been working to end the digital divide for decades, creating their own community, definitions, resources, and gaining knowledge of what works and doesn’t. Digital Inclusion is a multifaceted issue that takes time to understand and NDIA is here to help! Registration Required.

Hutchinson Area Leaders meet with DEED to talk broadband (McLeod County)

Red Lake Nation News reports…

On Wednesday, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove and DEED’s Executive Director for the Office of Broadband Development, Angie Dickison, hosted a roundtable discussion at local internet service provider Nuvera in Hutchinson. Their discussion focused on why broadband access is essential and why now is the time to finish the job and provide border-to-border broadband access to all Minnesotans.

“I love hearing from leaders and business owners about what makes Minnesota the best place to live and do business, and today’s conversation reinforced how critical high-speed, high-quality broadband is for schools, businesses, families, and communities,” said Steve Grove, DEED Commissioner. “It’s an equity issue on many levels, and during the past several years of the state’s border-to-border broadband program, we have helped bring reliable broadband to about 93% of Minnesotans. The Walz-Flanagan budget invests $170 million to bring border-to-border broadband access to all Minnesotans. It’s time to finish the job.”

Roundtable attendees included:

  • Glenn Zerbe, CEO/President, Nuvera

  • Matt Jaunich, City Administrator, City of Hutchinson

  • Angie Dickison, Executive Director, Office of Broadband Development (DEED)

  • Daron VanderHeiden, Superintendent, Hutchinson Public Schools

  • Marie Guggisberg, Owner, River Creek Nursery

MRBC Update: Legislature Returns Tomorrow, Where Does Broadband Stand?

From the MN Broadband Coalition…

Legislature Returns Tomorrow, Where Does Broadband Stand?
Minnesota Legislators return to Saint Paul tomorrow morning to begin the final portion of the 2022 legislative session after a 10-day Easter/Passover break. The Legislature must adjourn by May 23 and there is still no agreement on what to do with the $9 billion budget surplus and other pressing legislative items. Those who follow the Legislature closely know that spending deals tend to come together in the final two weeks of the session, so things are moving at a familiarly slow pace. The only caveat is the Legislature assembled and passed their two-year budget in the 2021 session. The takeaway? There is no constitutional requirement for them to pass a supplemental budget bill this year—despite the historically large surplus—and every seat is on the ballot this fall. Expect a bumpy finish.
Where Does Broadband Stand?
In the House, $100 million in state general funds for the Border-to-Border program is in HF 14 and HF 4375. Both bills are identical and currently parked in the Ways and Means Committee awaiting their fate. They could be amended on to a larger spending bill (like the Agriculture Committee’s omnibus bill) or move on their own. The House’s committee structure is not the same as the Senate and broadband bills go through a different committee in the House than in the Senate, making it difficult to match up if broadband provisions are in different omnibus bills in each chamber. The strategy of moving HF 14 and HF 4375 independently was used to give the House flexibility as we enter the final weeks of the session. Additionally, there is language in these bills to increase the state’s portion of the matching funds from 50% to 75% of a project cost. There is also language to increase the maximum project cost from $5 million to $10 million. DEED and the Office of Broadband Development must report back to the Legislature on how these changes have affected the grant program. HF 3605, the Line Extension Grant Program, is currently on the House Floor awaiting action.
In the Senate, there are several broadband provisions in SF 4019, the Agriculture Omnibus Bill. It is currently on the Senate Floor, awaiting action. $110 million remaining in the Capital Projects Fund would be directed to the Border-to-Border program in addition to requiring all funds from the forthcoming federal Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment Program be used for the Border-to-Border program (as well as language to allow DEED to conform to federal program standards). Policy items in this bill include allowing OBD to develop and spend up to $15 million for a low-density pilot program, increasing the state match from 50% to 75%, but leaving the $5 million project cap intact. Finally, the bill contains the Line Extension Grant Program which is also a standalone bill (SF 3476) currently on the Senate Floor awaiting action.
What’s Next?
The good news is that both the House and Senate are proposing $100 million+ for broadband. The governor’s supplemental budget proposal included $170 million in general funds for broadband as well. Our strategy will be to support the funding and let negotiators find an agreement on the funding source, whether that be all general funds, all federal funds, or a combination of both. The next step is for the House and Senate to pass their omnibus spending packages and form conference committees to negotiate the differences between their positions. You can expect to see this happen within the next few weeks. As always, we will keep you updated on any movement or changes.

Broadband in MN House Ways and Means – April 19 at 9am

Tomorrow the MN House Ways and Means will meet and broadband is on their agenda. HF14 looks to:

Transfers funds for the border-to-border broadband program, increases the maximum grant amount (from $5M ro $10M), and requires a report to the legislature. The Transfer makes a onetime $100,000,000 transfer in fiscal year 2023 from the general fund to the border-to-border broadband fund account. Keeps funds available until expended.

Her are the details from the MN House website

Chair: Rep. Rena Moran
Location: Hybrid Hearing
Time Note

Committee will meet until 10:45 AM, recess, and return at 1:00 PM to complete the agenda.

Agenda:

  1. Adoption of Budget Resolution
    II. HF3438 (Lillie) Legacy Finance Omnibus
    III. Agriculture, Housing, Broadband Omnibus
    -HF4376 (Hausman) Supplemental Housing Finance
    -HF14 (Ecklund) Supplemental Broadband Finance
    -HF4366 (Sundin) Supplemental Agriculture Finance
    NOTE: The language of HF4376 and HF 14 will be added to HF4366 during the hearing
    Other bills may be added
    This hybrid committee hearing will be held in-person in State Capitol Room 120 with remote participation from members and testifiers available. The capacity for State Capitol Room 120 is 60 audience seats, please plan accordingly.
    AMENDMENT DEADLINE FOR BILLS: Noon, April 18, 2022
    MEETING DOCUMENTS: Meeting documents will be posted on the House Ways & Means Committee website at https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/Committees/Home/92029

EVENT July 26: Midwest Peering Summit

For the techier readers, this should be an interesting conference. Here’s the schedule…

11:00 am – 11:45 am
Navigating the IPv4 Transfer Market
Do you need help navigating the IPv4 transfer market (as either a source or recipient)?  You’ve come to the right place. Join us for a status update on the IPv4 transfer market and Q&A with ARIN where you can ask your questions about obtaining IPv4 address space on the market and ARIN’s Specified Transfer Listing Service that includes IP address broker facilitators and more.
John Sweeting – ARIN Chief Customer Officer
11:00 am
Table setup is open for Exhibitors
11:00 am
Lunch on your own!
1:00 pm
Exhibits open for all attendees.
1:00 pm-1:30 pm
1623 Farnam/OmahaIX Presenation
Introduction to the OmahaIX Internet Exchange and 1623 Farnam building located in Downtown Omaha
Speaker: Greg Elliot – 1623 Farnam
Location: Meadows Conference Room
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
Getting Started with Peering for Last Mile Networks
How to get started with multihoming and Peering for ILECs, CLEC, WISP and FTTx Networks
Speaker: Lee Jager, Cody Jenks – Vantage Point Solutions
Location: Meadows Conference Room
2:45 pm – 3:30 pm
Internet Exchange Operators Roundtable
Topics: Remote Peering, Remote Switches, Port Security, Questions from Audience
Speakers: Richard Laager – MICE, Aaron Wendel
Location: Meadows Conference Room
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Reception on Exhibit Floor
Drinks and appetizers available on the Exhibit Floor.