Iron Range Rep Ecklund positive about future state broadband funding

The Mesabi Daily News reports on the impact of the elections on the Iron Range…

Three of the Iron Range districts in the Minnesota House will be in the majority come January after Democrats flipped 18 seats in the chamber for a seven-seat advantage.

The Senate remains Republican controlled by one vote, setting up the only split Legislature in the nation, alongside DFL Gov. Tim Walz.

Tuesday’s midterm election produced DFL winners in Dave Lislegard (House 6B), Julie Sandstede (House 6A) and Rob Ecklund (House 3A). Republican Sandy Layman won re-election in House 5B.

And some optimism on broadband funding in the legislature…

Ecklund said he believes the House changing will positively impact the 3A district.

“I think we’ll see some serious money going into rural broadband,” Ecklund told the Ely Echo. “It will be good for all of northeastern Minnesota and all of rural Minnesota. I look at broadband as a utility.”

Letter to editor support Grabowska in 23B

The Mankato Free Press ran a letter to the editor in support of Jim Grabowska, who is running for State Representative in 23B…

In 2018, broadband internet isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity for anyone who wants to compete in the market, stay connected to their social groups or get a quality education. The market forces are insufficient to fill in the gaps in our rural broadband network and for decades now rural Minnesotans have been left behind. If we want to keep our rural communities strong and flourishing, it’s crucial that we make comprehensive broadband a priority at the Legislature.

That’s why I’m voting for Jim Grabowska for the Minnesota House on Tuesday. Grabowska is lifelong educator who understands that the modern world moves at the speed of information. I know he will be an advocate to close the rural broadband gaps and to keep our towns, markets and families strong.

Candidate Tina Smith noted for work in broadband

DL-Online reports…

She [Tina Smith] has also been a strong supporter of bringing broadband to rural areas. As Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, she led the state’s well-regarded efforts to deploy broadband in rural communities, and the issue remains near and dear to her heart as senator.

The bipartisan Senate Farm Bill includes Smith’s Community Connect Grant Program to bring broadband to communities that need it.

There are 250,000 Minnesota households without adequate broadband. “It could mean millions of dollars for Minnesota, which would be a big help,” she said. “It’s a huge economic development issue.”

Since Minnesota’s broadband grant program works a lot better than the federal program, Smith said she has been talking to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on how to implement the Minnesota system at the federal level. “He’s been very interested,” she said.

The Senate Farm Bill in general “is another example of bipartisan work that would really benefit Minnesota agriculture,” she said.

Candidate Isenor in 21B supports better broadband

The Post Bulletin reports…

GOP state Rep. Steve Drazkowski is seeking his seventh two-year term representing District 21B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He is being challenged by Democrat Jonathan Isenor. District 21B covers portions of Goodhue, Dodge, Wabasha and Winona counties.

The article gives each candidate a chance to give their views. Isenor spefically brings up his plans for better broadband…

Isenor: On Day One, I will fight tooth and nail to make sure every home in Minnesota has cheap and reliable broadband. Nothing makes the rural urban divide more clear than broadband. Our infrastructure is being neglected statewide, but ignoring rural areas is hurting the entire economy of the state. Minnesotans across the state feel ignored. Saint Paul needs a gesture that it is listening and that it can still get things done.

Candidate Tom Wyatt-Yerka has big plans for broadband in 16A

The Granite Falls Advocate Tribune posts a Q&A profile of candidates. Tom Wyatt-Yerka (running for House) mentions broadband a lot in his profile…

  1. Budget: Minnesota’s economy is doing well. What would you do to see to it that the state’s economy continues on a course of growth?
    We need to enact policies that benefit the economies of rural Minnesota’s communities. This means more state services available in non-county seat communities, promoting more affordable and available day-care options to attract families and workers to Southwest Minnesota, and expanding broadband across our communities.
  1. Taxes: What is your position on both business and personal taxes? Do taxes need to be raised or cut? If cut, what spending cuts would you support to make up the difference?
    I would like to see at least a portion of the revenue generated from the online sales tax dedicated to expanding high-speed broadband internet infrastructure in rural Minnesota. In addition,I believe Minnesota would benefit from cutting the state income tax on Social Security which is causing many folks to leave Minnesota for states like South Dakota. By keeping more citizens in Minnesota we can expand the tax base.
  2. Spending: What would you do to ensure that Greater Minnesota isn’t left behind the Metro Area when it comes to state funding?
    As mentioned, we should dedicate a large portion of the state’s online sales tax to expanding broadband internet. …
  1. Infrastructure: What are your priorities for infrastructure in Greater Minnesota
    Nearly all of our infrastructure needs improvement, and we must dedicate the funds to do so. We must also work across the aisle with representatives from all across rural Minnesota to ensure equality between the metro and us. We must dedicate a greater portion of the gas tax to rural communities, and expand our broadband internet infrastructure. Additionally, enhancing our highway system with needed improvements like additional passing lanes will strengthen our regional economy and increase safety.

Letter to the Editor in Grand Rapids supports Tina Smith and her work on broadband

The Grand Rapids Herald Review posts a letter to the editor in support of Tina Smith for Senate…

As soon as Senator Smith got to the Senate, she launched a statewide listening tour to hear from Minnesota farmers on what their priorities are for the Farm Bill. She took what she heard from those sessions and immediately got to work writing measures in the Senate Farm Bill that expands critical broadband infrastructure to more farms across Minnesota and supports new farmers.

Duluth News Tribune supports Candidate Rob Ecklund in part because of broadband efforts

The Duluth News Tribune supports Representative Rob Ecklund for his reelection…

He worked nearly 30 years for the paper mill in his hometown International Falls. His wife is a schoolteacher. But Rep. Rob Ecklund’s top priority when he returns to St. Paul isn’t more education funding or incentives to attract new industries, as important as those goals are to him, too.

“What we need to do is get true border-to-border broadband so everyone has the same access (to the internet). Then we can open these shops that are employing five to 10 people, 20 people, and then they can grow.” Ecklund said at a News Tribune-sponsored candidate forum Oct. 1 in Virginia. “There’s no reason why a company in International Falls or Silver Bay can’t be doing architectural work for a company in India or China or wherever. We can do that once we’re connected.”

Last session, Ecklund sponsored a bill to finally finish building out broadband infrastructure so it’s statewide, including in rural areas and small towns. Even though the need is similar to the early-1900s push to bring electricity and indoor plumbing to all of America, more work is needed before true border-to-border broadband and its economic boon becomes reality in Minnesota.

On Nov. 6, voters in Minnesota House District 3A can re-elect Ecklund, his focus well-placed on this and other critical needs of Northeastern Minnesota.