Governor Dayton vetoes bill that included budget for broadband grants

MN Public Radio reports…

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday vetoed the tax and budget bills that included the main work of the Republican-led Legislature and vowed he would not call a special session to work things out, saying, “They had their chance.”

While the bills contained proposals supported by Democrats and Republicans, Dayton days earlier had telegraphed his problems with the legislation. Just a few hours before the midnight Sunday deadline for bills to pass, Dayton dashed Republican hopes that there was enough to like in tax and budget bills.

He renewed those criticisms Wednesday after the vetoes.

One of those proposals supported by Democrats and Republicans was funding for broadband grants.

FCC Establishes A Portal for ISP Disclosures

Borrowing from the Benton Foundation’s summary

As required by the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, with this Public Notice, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, in coordination with the Wireline Competition Bureau, establishes a portal for Internet service provider (ISP) transparency disclosures. The Order becomes effective on June 11, 2018, and the revised transparency rule requires ISPs to publicly disclose information about their service in one of two ways – by providing the disclosure on a publicly available, easily accessible website or by submitting it to the Federal Communications Commission for posting. On May 29, 2018, this portal will be available for both ISPs submitting their disclosures to the FCC and consumers searching for any disclosures submitted to the FCC.

It seems likely to me that most providers would simply use their own website to disclose information about their service – but this portal is available too. It would interesting to see if some of the providers use their website to disclose some info and this portal to disclose other info.

 

Who has authority over broadband service in MN PUC or FCC?

Minnesota Public Radio reports…

The question of whether state government can regulate internet service has surfaced at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The PUC will take up the matter this Thursday.

The state commerce department wants consumer internet complaints about Frontier Communications included in a PUC investigation of the company. The agency has received hundreds of complaints about Frontier, many concerning its internet service. The PUC plans a series of public meetings around the state to hear consumer comments on the matter.

But the state’s telecommunications companies maintain the regulation of internet service is something only the Federal Communications Commission can do.

Frontier would like the PUC to have FCC handle broadband issues and segment out only telephone for the PUC. The Attorney General says…

“An attempt to narrow the scope of the investigation at this stage would hinder the ability of the Commission and other state government entities to hear from customers,” the AG’s office wrote.

It said the question of who can regulate internet service is something “that does not need to be resolved at this phase.”

Frontier customers have told the PUC that their internet connection speed is often slow and undependable.

In a statement, Frontier Communications said it’s cooperating with the PUC review of its performance. But the company said the investigation should be limited to Frontier telephone service.

 

US Farm Bill doesn’t pass – including support for broadband in rural areas

The Benton Foundation reports…

The House of Representatives failed to pass a massive farm bill as Republicans were unable to shore up support from their conservative members. The 641-page bill addresses a range of issues related to agriculture, such as livestock disaster programs, conservation, feral swine, farm loan programs and broadband services in rural areas, just to name a few.

The vote was 198-213. While Republican leaders said they were confident ahead of the vote, it was clear the bill was in jeopardy, and members of leadership could be seen on the floor holding last-minute negotiations, as conservative Republicans sought a promise of a vote on their preferred immigration bill. In the end, the farm bill, a measure with huge implications for low-income families and the agricultural industry, became little more than a bargaining chip in the heated intraparty battle over immigration, President Trump’s core cultural and political issue.

Supplemental budget (including broadband grants) passes – but threatened with Gubernatorial veto

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

Minnesota lawmakers adjourned late Sunday after finalizing a handful of tax and spending measures, but with little chance they’d have much to show for three months of work as Gov. Mark Dayton vowed to veto most of their major efforts.

The Session Daily provides more details…

Early Sunday morning, the House passed a massive omnibus supplemental spending package. Then, around 4 p.m. Sunday, the House, in a second attempt within a week, passed a tax conformity bill that included special education funding requested by Gov. Mark Dayton. With minutes remaining before the constitutional deadline, the House passed a $1.4 billion capital investment bill and sent it to the governor.

“We’re excited, obviously,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) told the media after adjourning the 2018 session sine die. “A very successful session, passing all the big bills we had promised and delivered for Minnesotans in all the ways we said we would.”

Dayton told the media he would veto the tax and supplemental budget bills.

“It’s been a debacle,” Dayton said a few hours earlier. “But it’s been a debacle of their creation.”

And Minnesota Public Radio reports…

The bills passed on the session’s final days include:

  • a measure to cut taxes and free up more classroom money for schools

  • a construction package that could lead to $1.5 billion in projects

  • a massive budget bill that would increase state contributions to broadband expansions, provide schools money to secure campuses, take steps to attack the opioid epidemic and more.

All are shared goals of the governor and the Legislature, but most of the bills come with provisions that Dayton sees as objectionable or fail to adequately address the problems facing the state. The main spending bill spans 990 pages and would parcel out more than $130 million of a projected budget surplus.

The tax bill authorizes $225 million in spending for schools meant to avert layoffs and program cuts in some districts, but Dayton called it “fake,” because only $50 million of it was new money, and the rest comes from existing allocations schools are allowed to use in new ways.

So it’s a matter of seeing what happens at this point.

Capitol Update from MN Library Association – still $15 million for broadband

It’s hard to see what’s happening at the Capitol these days things are flying around so fast, but here’s a legislative update from the MN Library Association – they mention the $15 million for broadband…

The Supplemental budget bill is the arena for several issues of interest to MLA-ITEM. Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) has been a source of debate this session as the MDE proposed re-purposing potential unspent RLTA funds for school telecom needs. House Education Finance Chair Jennifer Loon sought to keep these funds within the sphere of the regional public library world and her position, which we asked for, has prevailed at this point in time. The Supplemental conference report includes language allowing the regional library systems to spend RLTA funds on other broadband access related initiatives that don’t necessarily align with the federal e-rate program.

The Supplemental budget bill also contains $15 million for the broadband development fund.

Senate votes to overturn Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal

The Benton Foundation reports…

The US Senate voted to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of net neutrality. The Senate approved a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would simply undo the FCC’s December 2017 vote to deregulate the broadband industry. If the CRA is approved by the House and signed by President Trump, Internet service providers would have to continue following rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has scheduled his repeal to take effect on June 11. If Congress doesn’t act, the net neutrality rules and the FCC’s classification of ISPs as common carriers would be eliminated on that date. Democrats face much longer odds in the House, where Republicans hold a 236-193 majority. Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate, but Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine); Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA); and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) broke ranks in order to support net neutrality and common carrier regulation of broadband providers.