Reading of the Ag, Rural Dev and Housing Omnibus – still $40M for broadband

Last night I attended the reading of the Omnibus budget that includes $40 million for broadband over the next two years. Here are the documents they discussed:

There wasn’t much about broadband, except that Senator Westrom made a point at the end to say, “Rural broadband is a strong augmentation to the bill we have put together.”

Broadband in Legislature on Monday: Conference Committee on S.F. 2226 meets at 11am

Earlier this week, I attended a Conference Committee on S.F. 2226, Agriculture, Housing and Rural Development. They took testimony, including brief words from Office of Broadband Development Director, Danna Mackenzie. Here are the notes on took on her presentation:

  • Broadband is as important as electricity and phone for homes & businesses
  • The MN Broadband task force recommended $70 million per biennium – and that is only a portion of what we need. They rest will be matched by providers and communities.
  • There will be an opportunity lost cost if we get only $35 million; communities will fall farther behind.

I livestreamed the session – but ironically have been unable to download it from Facebook in two days of trying! You can find it on Facebook. Danna starts at 1:23. The noteworthy thing is that the legislators asked questions about housing for almost 90 minutes before Danna spoke – and plenty of questions for the next speaker. Danna was on for less than 10 minutes. I can’t say whether it’s a good sign or a bad sign but I think it’s a sign that the request for broadband is straightforward and I think that helps build a case for a topic that can inherently be complex.

The Committee met again yesterday and I was unfortunately not able to attend and as if now there are no notes, video or audio online. BUT I wanted to let folks know that the Committee will meet again on Monday at 11 am. This close to the end of session, the times can get moved, with little to no notice. I plan/hope to attend and will livestream and take notes if I can. If you are interested in attending, keep an eye on the MN Leg Calendar for updates.

HF2208/SF2611 – Jobs, Energy and Climate, and Telecommunications Omnibus meets May 7 at 12:30

Unless this is pushed back I won’t be able to attend live – but I will find an archive…

HF2208/SF2611 – Jobs, Energy and Climate, and Telecommunications Omnibus

The final version of this Omnibus bill will combine jobs and economic development, energy and climate, and telecommunications policy and finance. Contains paid family medical leave, earned sick leave, wage theft prevention, and net neutrality provisions.

Hearing Date: 5/7/2019
Hearing Time: 12:30:00 PM
Location: 10 State Office Building
Committee: Conference Committee on HF2208/SF2611
Chair: House: Mahoney. Senate: Pratt
Members: House: Mahoney; Wagenius; Stephenson; Long; Hassan. Senate: Pratt; Dahms; Osmek; Housley; Simonson

MN Senate Ag, Rural Dev and Housing Finance Committee meets May 7 – 5:30 PM or At the Call of the Chair

I have this on my calendar for tomorrow. There’s no agenda (that I’ve seen) but broadband is on their slate…

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 – 5:30 PM or At the Call of the Chair
Conference Committee on S.F. 2226
Chairs: Sen. Torrey N. Westrom and Rep. Jeanne Poppe
CONFEREES: SENATE: Westrom; Weber; Goggin; Draheim; Dziedzic – HOUSE: Poppe; Hausman; Vang; Pelowski Jr.; Gunther
5:30 p.m. or At the Call of the Chair
Room 1100 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
Walkthrough of Agriculture, Housing, and Broadband side by sides and spreadsheet.
The Senate holds the gavel.
S.F. 2226-Westrom: Omnibus agriculture department, rural development, and housing finance bill.

Save the Date Oct 8-10 – MN Fall Broadband Conference – Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work

Got broadband? Join us to make the most of it. Need broadband? We can help with that too! Our goal is to challenge and inspire community champions from across Minnesota. We will showcase examples of broadband-enabled economic and community development and celebrate the community leaders whose hard work and vision we have to thank.

This three-day conference at the beautiful Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN will offer learning and engagement on many aspects of the challenges and benefits of broadband access and use, from “Pursuing Broadband 101,” to digital inclusion tools and strategies for diverse audiences, to examples of tech-transformed health care, education, and Ag, to case studies of improved community broadband.  Providers will discuss trends in deployments and offer advice to communities. Blandin Foundation will recognize community leaders who, since these annual conferences began fifteen years ago, have lead the way to better broadband.  Besides panel discussions, presentations, and demonstrations, we will hear directly from millennials about how they decide where to live and work, and there will be some magic.

It’s a great time to network with people who can help you put broadband to work. It’s a great place to bring leaders from your community who could use a little inspiration to recognize the power of broadband.

MN Public Broadband Alliance Meeting – video and notes


Yesterday MN Public Broadband Alliance hosted a meeting on broadband with the following topics:

  • Partnerships, Where to find Partners, Structures
  • Wireless Capabilities/Hybrid Systems
  • Grant Overviews
  • Financing Options
  • Economic Development and Broadband
  • Legislative Update and Questions

You can watch the sessions below

Or check out by scattered notes… Continue reading

Why is Blandin Foundation leading a Minnesota contingency to the Intelligent Community Forum Conference in NY?

The Blandin Foundation is leading a contingency of broadband-focused community leaders to the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) Global Conference in NY in June. Why? To learn and to teach!

We will go to learn from some of the top smart cities (counties, counties and towns) in the world. The ICF awards the “Intelligent Community” each year. These are communities that are ahead of their peers when it comes to having and using broadband to the point of creating innovation in work, school and play!

ICF has a framework for communities that the Blandin Foundation has adopted with the Blandin Broadband Communities. It focuses on 6 facets (pictured at the right) that help communities recognize their strengths and challenges and create a plan to use broadband/smart technology to highlight strengths and address challenges.

We are also going to talk to communities around the world about our work in rural areas. We suspect that there will be projects that will excite us coming from larger communities but that our communities might also serve as a model to smaller communities. We have worked with the ICF model for almost a decade now and we feel that we have some lessons worth sharing!

We are bringing representatives from: