Discussion in MN House on Broadband grants moved to April 27

I am reminded of why I don’t always post legislative meeting invitations in advance – they change. The meeting I mentioned yesterday has been moved to Friday. I will try to update this as needed but you can always go to the Ways and Means site too…

Ways and Means Committee

Committee Meeting Notice

To:

HOUSE INFORMATION, 175 STATE OFFICE BUILDING
Mike Cook (296-1341)

From:

Harry Kennedy, (296-5065)

Committee:

Ways and Means

Date/Time/Location:

Friday, April 27, 2018

10:00 AM

200 State Office Building

Committee Chair:

Rep. Jim Knoblach
Agenda:

HF4289 (Garofalo)
Omnibus employment, economic development, and energy bill.

The amendment deadline for amendments to HF4289 (Garofalo) is Thursday,  April 26 at 10:00 AM.  Please send amendments via email to Committee Administrator, Harry Kennedy, at harry.kennedy@house.mn
Additional items may be added to the Agenda.

MN Senate bill allocates $15 million for broadband

The Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus reports…

The Minnesota Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, chaired by Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), presented its 2018 supplemental budget bill to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. The bill provides funding for a number of job creation, economic development, and workforce training initiatives, as well as an appropriation for Border-to-Border Broadband expansion. The bill was adopted into a larger supplemental budget bill covering every issue area.

“This bill focuses on public-private initiatives that promote job growth, economic development and workforce training opportunities for Minnesotans,” said Senator Miller. “People in too many areas of Minnesota are forced to conduct their daily business as if it were 1998 rather than 2018 simply due to lack of high speed internet; we are expanding the Border-to-Border Broadband program to bring this critical infrastructure to more communities. There will also be more grant funding available to help communities pay for land acquisition, infrastructure, and other economic redevelopment tasks. Minnesota’s economy is in great shape; our bill is going to help make sure every area of the state has an opportunity to benefit.”

“I am very appreciative of work the committee did this session,” added Senator Miller. “Our committee prides itself on working across the aisle on bipartisan ideas to help spur economic growth, job creation, and workforce development throughout the state, and that attitude showed in our final bill. It is a package that everyone can be proud of.”

The notable finance and policy provisions of the bill include:

  • $15 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program to expand critical high speed internet access to underserved and unserved Minnesota communities
  • Reallocates $2 million to Redevelopment Grant and Demolition Loan programs to help communities redevelop blighted industrial, residential, and commercial sites
  • Increases Youth Skills Training Program grants
  • Extension for a pilot project for workforce development among American Indian populations
  • Improves accessibility requirements for public buildings

Next Discussion in MN House on Broadband grants – April 26

[Added Wed 2:00 – HF4289 has just been removed from this agenda and moved to Friday]

So often these meetings get changed – and you can generally get the latest on the House website – but the next step for the MN Broadband grant bill (as part of the Omnibus bill) is a hearing with Ways and Means.

It looks like it is scheduled to on the agenda for Thursday April 26…

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Time Note:

The Ways and Means Committee will meet after legislative session at the Call of the Chair

Room: 200 State Office Building

Chair: Rep. Jim Knoblach

Bills:

HF3719 – (Hamilton): Omnibus agriculture finance bill.

HF4289 – (Garofalo): Omnibus employment, economic development, and energy bill.

HF3502 – (Fabian): Omnibus environment and natural resources policy and finance bill.

HF4016 – (Anderson): Omnibus state government finance bill.

HF4099 – (Knoblach): Obsolete transfer deleted.

Details on the MN House version of the broadband grant bills and eligibility of satellite as recipient of grant

The “Journal of the House” for Monday, April 23, 2018 details specifics on a few broadband items – discussed at last week’s (April 20) House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee.

There the specifics of the grants…

Broadband Development – 15,000,000

(a) $15,000,000 in fiscal year 2019 is for transfer to the border‑to‑border broadband fund account in the special revenue fund established under Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.396 and may be used for purposes provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.395.  This appropriation is onetime and is available until spent.  Of this appropriation, up to three percent is for costs incurred by the commissioner to administer Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.395.  Administrative costs may include the following activities related to measuring progress toward the state’s broadband goals established in Minnesota Statutes, section 237.012:

(1) collecting broadband deployment data from Minnesota providers, verifying its accuracy through on-the-ground testing, and creating state and county maps available to the public showing the availability of broadband service at various upload and download speeds throughout Minnesota;

(2) analyzing the deployment data collected to help inform future investments in broadband infrastructure; and

(3) conducting business and residential surveys that measure broadband adoption and use in the state.

Data provided by a broadband provider under this subdivision is nonpublic data under Minnesota Statutes, section 13.02, subdivision 9.  Maps produced under this subdivision are public data under Minnesota Statutes, section 13.03.

(b) Of the amount appropriated in paragraph (a), $750,000 is for grants to satellite broadband providers under Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.395.

Changes to some definitions…

ARTICLE 7

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 116J.394, is amended to read:

116J.394 DEFINITIONS.

(a) For the purposes of sections 116J.394 to 116J.398, the following terms have the meanings given them.

(b) “Broadband” or “broadband service” has the meaning given in section 116J.39, subdivision 1, paragraph (b).

(c) “Broadband infrastructure” means networks of deployed telecommunications equipment and technologies necessary to provide high-speed Internet access and other advanced telecommunications services for end users.

(d) “Commissioner” means the commissioner of employment and economic development.

(e) “Last-mile infrastructure” means broadband infrastructure that serves as the final leg connecting the broadband service provider’s network to the end-use customer’s on-premises telecommunications equipment.

(f) “Middle-mile infrastructure” means broadband infrastructure that links a broadband service provider’s core network infrastructure to last-mile infrastructure.

(g) “Political subdivision” means any county, city, town, school district, special district or other political subdivision, or public corporation.

(h) “Satellite broadband equipment” means a satellite dish or modem installed at a broadband user’s location in order to receive broadband service from a satellite broadband provider.

(i) “Satellite broadband provider” means an entity that provides broadband service by means of wireless signals transmitted between communication stations orbiting the earth and satellite broadband equipment installed at a broadband user’s location.

(j) “Satellite dish” means a parabolic aerial installed on a building exterior that receives signals from and transmits signals to a satellite broadband provider’s satellite communication station orbiting the earth.

(k) “Underserved areas” means areas of Minnesota in which households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second download and at least 20 megabits per second upload.

(i)(l) “Unserved areas” means areas of Minnesota in which households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service, as defined in section 116J.39.

EFFECTIVE DATE.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Eligibility of satellite…

Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 116J.395, subdivision 2, is amended to read:

Subd. 2.  Eligible expenditures.  (a) Grants may be awarded under this section to fund the acquisition and installation of:

(1) middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure that support broadband service scalable to speeds of at least 100 megabits per second download and 100 megabits per second upload.; and

(2) satellite broadband equipment installed on the premises of a broadband user located in an unserved area that can support broadband speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and three megabits per second upload.

(b) Grants may be awarded under this section to fund monthly satellite broadband service charges for a period of 12 months for a subscriber whose satellite broadband equipment has been partially funded by a grant under paragraph (a), clause (2).

EFFECTIVE DATE.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 116J.395, subdivision 5, is amended to read:

Subd. 5.  Application contents.  An applicant for a grant under this section shall provide the following information on the application:

(1) the location of the project;

(2) the kind and amount of broadband infrastructure or satellite broadband equipment to be purchased for the project;

(3) evidence regarding the unserved or underserved nature of the community in which the project is to be located;

(4) the number of households passed that will have access to broadband service as a result of the project, or whose broadband service will be upgraded as a result of the project;

(5) significant community institutions that will benefit from the proposed project;

(6) evidence of community support for the project;

(7) the total cost of the project;

(8) sources of funding or in-kind contributions for the project that will supplement any grant award;

(9) evidence that no later than six weeks before submission of the application the applicant contacted, in writing, all entities providing broadband service in the proposed project area to ask for each broadband service provider’s plan to upgrade broadband service in the project area to speeds that meet or exceed the state’s broadband speed goals in section 237.012, subdivision 1, within the time frame specified in the proposed grant activities;

(10) the broadband service providers’ written responses to the inquiry made under clause (9); and

(11) any additional information requested by the commissioner.

EFFECTIVE DATE.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 116J.395, subdivision 7, is amended to read:

Subd. 7.  Limitation.  (a) No grant awarded under this section may fund more than:

(1) 50 percent of the total cost of a project.under subdivision 2, paragraph (a), clause (1);

(2) 50 percent of the total cost of satellite broadband equipment installed at user locations, up to $300; or

(3) $600 in monthly satellite broadband subscription charges.

(b) Grants awarded to a single project under this section must not exceed $5,000,000.

EFFECTIVE DATE.  This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Delete the title and insert:

“A bill for an act relating to state government; appropriating money for jobs and energy; appropriating money for the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Housing Finance Agency, Department of Commerce, Public Facilities Authority, and Department of Labor and Industry; making changes to energy provisions; authorizing carbon reduction facilities; modifying the renewable development account; establishing grant programs; regulating modular and manufactured homes; requiring legislative review of certain rules; modifying housing bond allocation; modifying the minimum wage for employees receiving gratuities; making OSHA federal conformity changes; authorizing management of Lake Winona; authorizing a satellite broadband pilot project; modifying the taconite economic development fund; amending Minnesota Statutes 2016, sections 116J.394; 116J.395, subdivisions 2, 5, 7; 177.24, subdivision 1; 182.666, subdivisions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, by adding a subdivision; 216A.03, by adding a subdivision; 216B.16, by adding a subdivision; 216B.243, subdivision 8; 216E.03, subdivision 9; 216E.04, subdivisions 2, 7; 216F.01, subdivision 2; 298.28, subdivision 9a; 299D.085, by adding a subdivision; 326B.805, subdivision 3; 326B.815, subdivision 1; 327.31, by adding a subdivision; 327B.041; 327C.095, subdivisions 4, 6, 12, 13, by adding a subdivision; 462A.222, subdivision 3; 474A.02, by adding subdivisions; 474A.03, subdivision 1; 474A.04, subdivision 1a; 474A.047, subdivisions 1, 2; 474A.061; 474A.062; 474A.091; 474A.131; 474A.14; Minnesota Statutes 2017 Supplement, sections 116C.779, subdivision 1; 116C.7792; 216B.164, subdivision 5; 216B.1691, subdivision 2f; 298.227; Laws 2014, chapter 312, article 2, section 14, as amended; Laws 2017, chapter 94, article 1, sections 2, subdivision 2, as amended; 4, subdivisions 3, 5; article 10, sections 28; 29; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapters 14; 116C; 216B; 216C; 327; repealing Minnesota Statutes 2016, sections 177.24, subdivision 2; 216B.2423; 471.9996, subdivision 2.”

With the recommendation that when so amended the bill be re-referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

House moves $15 million for broadband grants, carves out $750,000 for satellite

House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee met to finalize the Omnibus bill. One of the amendments was set to ear mark $750,000 of the proposed $15 million for broadband grants for satellite. (The bill is moved to Ways and Means.)

Video of the meeting is available online. I have pulled out the discussion on broadband…

And notes on the meeting: Continue reading

House Republicans announces budgets including $15 million for broadband

The MN Session Daily reports…

Looking to piggyback on last year’s action, House Republicans announced budget adjustment targets for this session. Tax relief tops the list.

Some details (emphasis is mine)…

Here are the spending increases proposed by House leaders:

  • $107.45 million in tax relief, including simplification of state taxes;

  • $101 million for road and bridge repairs;

  • $50.6 million to address a variety of issues, including pension woes;

  • $30.23 million for student safety through school safety improvements and mental health programming;

  • $15 million for expanded broadband internet across the state;

  • $10 million to prevent a 7 percent cut to people caring for Minnesota’s disabled community through the Disability Waiver Rate System;

  • $7.12 million for public safety;

  • $5 million for higher education;

  • $750,000 to address chronic wasting disease; and

  • $250,000 to support mental health counseling for farmers.

Sen. Tina Smith Introduces Bill to Deploy Broadband to Unserved Rural and Tribal Communities

From Senator Smith’s office…

Senator’s Legislation Would Establish and Improve Upon the Department of Agriculture Community Connect Grant Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/12/18]—Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced legislation—the Community Connect Grant Program Act—to establish the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program under law and make improvements to the grant program that makes funding available for broadband projects in tribal, low-income, and remote rural areas.

The USDA Community Connect program through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities. In addition to authorizing the program and targeting areas that lack access across the nation, Sen. Smith’s bill would increase internet speed service under the program because she hears time and time again that this is a real concern for Minnesotans.

“Broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st Century—it isn’t just nice, it’s necessary if we’re going to build an economy that works for everyone,” said Sen. Smith. “It is absolutely necessary whether you’re a student working on homework, a business owner selling products, a farmer using modern equipment, or a person who is trying to access health care. My bill is a step forward and one of the many things we have to do in order to connect more Minnesotans and people across the nation with affordable, reliable internet service.”
The Community Connect Grant Program Act would:

  • Provide grants to construct, acquire, or lease facilities—including spectrum, land, or buildings—to deploy broadband service.
  • Modernize minimum speed service to coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission and keep pace with 21st Century needs.
  • Provide essential community facilities—like fire stations and public schools—with service for up to two years.
  • A portion of the grant funding may also be used to improve, expand, construct, or acquire a community center within the proposed service area to provide community access.
  • Avoid duplicating deployment efforts by not building over existing broadband networks, responsibly investing federal funding and taxpayer money.
  • Authorize funding for Community Connect grants at $50 million per fiscal year.

You can learn more about the Community Grant Program Act here.