Update on Broadband Bills in MN Legislature from

It’s a concise update from JD Supra

This week, the House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division heard HF 7, one of the first bills introduced this session. As introduced, HF 7, authored by Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls), appropriates $35 million in fiscal year 2020 and $35 million in fiscal year 2021 from the general fund to the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to deposit in the Border-to-Border Broadband fund account.

During the meeting, the committee adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) appropriating an additional $15 million to be made available the day after HF 7’s final enactment, totaling a $85 million investment through 2021 to subsidize the development of broadband coverage throughout greater Minnesota. These appropriations will be used to accomplish the state’s statutory broadband goals. By 2022, it is a state goal to provide access to high-speed broadband with download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least three megabits per second to all Minnesota homes and businesses, aiming to place Minnesota in the top five states for broadband access.

Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED, said HF 7 is a “critical, foundational piece” for the state because it ensures all Minnesotans, not just those in the metro area, have the ability to succeed. All testifiers advocated for the passage of the bill, indicating the indispensability of high-speed internet for businesses in rural areas to flourish and compete with their metropolitan counterparts. One testifier indicated broadband access is especially important for rural residents because a number of them access their doctor via webcam, saving them from driving hundreds of miles to the nearest hospital.

HF 7 was passed on a voice vote and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Its companion bill in the Senate is SF 9, authored by Sen. Mark Koran (R-North Branch).

Broadband comes up in two bills in MN House committees March 21

On Thursday March 21 the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division will hear about the Coworking spaces broadband connection pilot grant program

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 8:00 AM
Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division
Chair: Rep. Tim Mahoney
Location: 200 State Office Building

Agenda:

HF 1693 (Noor) Goodwill Easter Seals funding provided

HF 1505 (Dehn) Summit Academy OIC GED and employment program

HF 1168 (Christensen) 180 Degrees grant

HF 1464 (Lippert) Youthprise Opportunity Reboot initiative grant

HF 2419 (Robbins) Coworking spaces broadband connection pilot grant program.

If you would like to testify, please contact Travis Reese at (651) 296-7175 or travis.reese@house.mn

Learn more about the Bill: HF2419 (Robbins)
Coworking spaces broadband connection pilot grant program funding provided, reports required, and money appropriated.

Then at 9:45 Government Operations will hear about the creation of subordinate service district to provide broadband service authorized.

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 9:45 AM
Government Operations
Chair: Rep. Mike Freiberg
Location: Basement Hearing RoomAgenda:

HF2550 (Mariani)
Security screening systems added to ionizing radiation-producing equipment, jail inmate transfer provisions modified, administrative and disciplinary segregation use guidelines established, criminal gang investigative data retention extended, local correctional officers discipline procedures act established, ombudsman for corrections reestablished, reports requires, money appropriated, and various other provisions modified or established.

HF2229 (Wolgamott)
Town officer terms modified.

HF132 (Masin)
Local governments impacted by new information technology business software involvement required in user acceptance testing.

HF823 (Nelson)
Private consultants hiring process established.

HF1657 (Dettmer)
Scandia; creation of subordinate service district to provide broadband service authorized.

Learn more: HF1657 (Dettmer)
Scandia; creation of subordinate service district to provide broadband service authorized.

MN Broadband Day on the Hill Schedule for April 3

From the MN Broadband Coalition newsletter…

We can now share more details with you about the MN Broadband Coalition’s 2019 Day on the Hill Schedule We have invited Gov. Tim Walz and are hopeful he will be able to kick-off our day. We are excited to announce DEED Commissioner Steve Grove will be joining us in the morning! Here is the schedule we have so far—subject to change.

April 3, 2019 – L’Etoile du Nord Vault, MN State Capitol

  • 8:15am – 8:45am Registration, networking, refreshments
  • 8:45 am Welcome, Legislative Update
  • 9:00am Governor Tim Walz (Invited)
  • 9:15am DEED Commissioner Steve Grove
  • 9:30am-11:00am Legislative Leadership – Invited

We are excited to have scheduled House and Senate leadership to join us!
Schedule will be fluid depending on the day’s legislative schedule

  • House Speaker Melissa Hortman
  • House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt
  • Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka
  • Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk
  • HF 7/SF 9 Authors Rep. Rob Ecklund and Sen. Mark Koran
  • 11:00am-11:30am Optional: Advocacy Tips and Q&A with the Office of Broadband
  • 11:00am Legislative Meetings in MN Senate Bldg and State Office Bldg
  • 12:00-1:00pm Box lunches available in L’Etoile du Nord Vault

2:00pm Coffee and refreshments Wrap-Up in L’Etoile du Nord Vault

Klobuchar introduces improving broadband act

The Brainerd Dispatch reports…

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Joe Manchin D-W.Va., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband coverage maps.

The Improving Broadband Mapping Accuracy Act directs the FCC to initiate rulemaking to consider using consumer-reported data and state and local data from government entities to improve broadband mapping accuracy, while also considering ways that both fixed and mobile coverage data can be challenged if telecommunications are not upholding their services as advertised. The bill would seek to help close the digital divide by giving policymakers more accurate data on broadband coverage nationwide.

“In order to deploy broadband nationwide, we need reliable data on where service exists and where it does not,” Klobuchar stated in a news release. “Our bipartisan legislation will help ensure we are closing the digital divide with accurate mapping and bringing high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their ZIP code.”

Rep Layman advocates for broadband

The Grand Rapids Herald Review posts a letter from Representative Sandy Layman about her work in the Legislature including her focus on improving broadband access for all…

One of the most significant issues this committee addresses is the need for broadband expansion in greater Minnesota. Last week, we heard legislation I’m championing to provide increased funding for our state’s border-to-border broadband program, which funds broadband expansion to unserved or underserved parts of the state.

This bipartisan bill would provide $70 million over the next two years for critical broadband infrastructure in rural Minnesota. I successfully amended this bill last week to ensure it would also provide more immediate funding by allocating $15 million for broadband improvements in 2019. This $15 million is now a part of this bill, which the House majority and governor indicate is a priority.

Although I hoped legislators could agree on a much larger number, the broadband legislation I authored last year that passed and was sent to the governor would have provided this $15 million for 2019. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by then Governor Dayton – and this funding was lost. By pursuing this extra $15 million again this year, I’m looking to restore that lost funding.

Broadband’s importance to our area cannot be overstated. Access to quality broadband is a critical infrastructure need for rural communities across the state. Put simply, broadband allows us to be connected to the world. Its expansion will help small businesses grow, allow folks to work from home, and expand educational opportunities in rural schools. The countless constituents I’ve heard from and the energized groups visiting the Capitol clearly demonstrate the strong grassroots support for this issue.

Making broadband more accessible and affordable to communities like ours isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a rural issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the governor on it in the months ahead.

Gov Walz’s Budget is Rural Focused and that includes broadband

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on Governor Walz’s budget..

The $49.5 billion two-year spending proposal contains a number of pieces rural and greater Minnesota advocates have demanded. It would invest $70 million in rural broadband expansion. Local governments and counties would get $30 million more each year. Farmers would get $50 an acre in tax credits to help offset the expense of adding buffer strips along waterways.

Senator Draheim talks about his broadband funding bill proposed in MN

Faribault Daily News reports…

The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development estimates that about 90 percent of rural Minnesota households have access to non-mobile broadband (an internet connection other than that from a cell phone). State Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, who represents Northfield, Le Sueur County and surrounding areas, has drafted bills this session to continue efforts to combat the problem.

“It’s a pretty bipartisan issue,” he said. “There is a little disconnect between metro and outstate, but overall it’s bipartisan.”

One of Draheim’s bills, a proposal to fund the Border to Border Broadband program with an additional $35 million, he expects to pass through the Legislature. He doesn’t expect a second bill, which would initiate a pilot program to expand satellite broadband, to pass.

He said the Office of Broadband Development is pretty much maxed out with what it can do at $35 million per year. The Border to Border program helps extend wireline broadband to households throughout the state. That involves a physical connection to residences and businesses via fiber optic cable. The state office estimates about 80 percent of rural households have access to wireline broadband.