Biden visits Duluth and mentions broadband as tool to put people to work

Duluth News Tribune reports on a recent visit from presidential candidate Joe Biden to Hermantown, outside of Duluth…

Biden’s economic plan called for a now-familiar tax increase for people making over $400,000 per year. Money raised would go toward putting tradespeople to work by modernizing infrastructure, bringing broadband internet to all homes, and reinforcing existing homes and structures.

Minnesota House, District 3A campaign: Rep Ecklund lists broadband as a priority

The Internation Falls Journal looks at various political races, including Minnesota House, District 3A: Rob Ecklund and Thomas Manninen. They ask basic questions to help provide a snapshot of each candidate. Representative Ecklund mentions broadband as a priority for economic growth…

In addition to short term investments to create jobs, we need a comprehensive strategy to attract and retain families and businesses. The biggest barrier to this is a lack of dependable high-speed broadband internet across Greater Minnesota. The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded these challenges. I’ve successfully carried legislation to invest $40 million in the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program, but major coverage gaps remain. If students can’t get online to do homework, or businesses can’t get online to bring their products to the global marketplace, people will move to where they can get this access. Regions like ours can’t afford to lose out on the opportunities presented by internet access, which in the year 2020 should be a basic necessity rather than a luxury for rural families.

MN District 17A: Broadband is a priority each candidate agrees with a slight twist

West Central Tribune reports on the campaigns in 17A. Show on the map borrowed from Pollfinder, 17A includes Swift, Kandiyohi, Chippewa and Renville…

Campaigning to represent District 17A are incumbent Rep. Tim Miller and rookie candidate Ben Dolan. In 17B, the race is between incumbent Rep. Dave Baker and college student Logan Kortgard.

Despite the differences in parties, the candidates had similar priorities for the next two years. Top priorities included health care, education and broadband. All of the candidates agreed that expansion of broadband or high-speed internet service is needed in the surrounding areas.

And here is what each said…

  • Kortgard: “Broadband is a necessity in the modern economy,” Kortgard said, who supports the state working with community-led cooperatives and organizations to make expansion happen. “By investing in them specifically, we can facilitate the gap of internet coverage and make sure greater Minnesota has access to quality, affordable broadband they deserve. This is not going to get better without help from the state.”
  • Baker: Baker is also a supporter of broadband expansion, though he wants to see private industry take the lead in those projects, especially since the state is facing a multibillion-dollar deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    “We’re going to have a struggle this year,” Baker said.
  • Dolan: The lack of competition in the rural areas is one of the reasons Dolan thinks the region lacks the internet infrastructure of the metro areas.
    “We need more public money to go to building our broadband out in greater Minnesota,” Dolan said, adding he will fight to get more funding for rural projects.
  • Miller: Miller believes broadband expansion is a wise investment even though he has concerns about a one-size-fits-all mentality for internet technology. He would like to see more hybrid projects of fiber-optic and wireless technology be eligible for funding programs.
    “We need to do it wisely, smartly and we need to do it in a way that applies to each given area in our state, not just one size fits all,” Miller said.

How do Presidential candidates tackle tech? (Thanks to Digital Trends and Benton)

Thanks to Digital Trends for looking into it and Benton Institute for summarizing…

The role of Big Tech companies, the dangers of social media platforms, and the potential of a green future are all major issues in politics right now, and whoever wins the 2020 election will shape policies around them. Below are examples of where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden stand on tech policy:

  • Closing the Digital Divide
    • Joe Biden: Has made expanding broadband part of his platform. He wants to invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure, and also promises to direct the federal government – especially the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the US Department of Agriculture – to support cities and towns that want to build municipally-owned broadband networks. He will encourage competition among providers, to increase speeds and decrease prices in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
    • President Trump: Earlier in 2020, it was said at a White House press briefing that “the president is committed to ensure that rural Americans are not left behind and that their communities have access to safe and reliable high-speed broadband.”
  • The Future of 5G
    • Joe Biden: Platform maintains that investing in 5G is one of the keys to maintaining America’s position as a world leader, stating that “a Biden administration will join together with our democratic allies to develop secure, private sector-led 5G networks, leaving no community — rural or low-income — behind.”
    • President Trump: In 2019, stated his administration’s goal of “winning the race to be the world’s leading provider of 5G cellular communications networks,” adding that “secure 5G networks will absolutely be a vital link to America’s prosperity and national security in the 21st century … We cannot allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future … The race to 5G is a race America must win, and it’s a race, frankly, that our great companies are now involved in.”
  • Net Neutrality
    • Joe Biden: The Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders Unity Task Force touched on net neutrality in a list of policy proposals, indicating a Biden administration’s intent to “restore the FCC’s clear authority to take strong enforcement action against broadband providers who violate net neutrality principles through blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, or other measures that create artificial scarcity and raise consumer prices.”
    • President Trump: In 2019, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules (although the court also ruled that states can implement their own net neutrality rules). Afterward, President Trump tweeted a congratulation to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Candidate Biden announces $2 trillion plan to include broadband infrastructure

The Duluth News Tribune reports…

On a virtual campaign event for Joe Biden, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Minnesota union heads touted the Democratic presidential candidate’s newly released environmental, economy and infrastructure plan.

Biden announced the $2 trillion, four-year plan on Tuesday, July 14, which he says will create jobs in the building, manufacturing, engineering and energy sectors as Americans continue to lose their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic economic fallout. According to the New York Times, the plan promises environmentally conscious projects to improve transportation, wastewater and broadband infrastructure, as well as affordable housing and green energy. Biden also pledged to achieve net-zero carbon pollution in the electricity sector by 2035.

Gretchen Piper running for MN Senate District 33 broadband on platform

SW News Media reports…

Gretchen Piper received the DFL endorsement in her campaign to represent Minnesota Senate District 33 in a recent vote.

“I was raised in a family that emphasizes service to the community,” stated Piper in a press release. “It’s with that same spirit that I will serve in the Minnesota Senate.”

A mother of two and a small-business owner, Piper plans to focus on excellence in education, access to affordable healthcare, and environmental protections. She is also committed to expanding broadband access to all parts of Minnesota, according to the release.

DFL Candidates in Le Sueur County talk about issues, including broadband

Le Sueur County News reports current views from two incumbents and two newcomers who have won the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement to represent Le Sueur County and surrounding areas in St. Paul. Here’s what they say about broadband…

Rep. Lippert: “I ran for office initially and I’m running for office again because I care about small areas. I grew up in a town of 700 people in northwest Iowa and I’ve been an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ for 17 years serving small churches and small towns in Wisconsin and most recently in Northfield. I want small communities to have what they need and rural areas to have what they need. I want us to be connected to the rest of the state and for the state to see itself connected to us in small towns. Because it doesn’t matter what we look like or where we’re from, we all need high quality affordable healthcare, we all need to stay home when we’re sick, we need good schools for our kids, we need high speed broadband. That’s at the heart of why I’m running.”

Rep. Lippert: “With COVID-19 it’s shown us the disparities that were already there before COVID-19, but they’re even more clear. The geographic disparities are very clear right now and we need to make sure that rural communities are not left out or left behind.The broadband issue is really key. We need to make sure that kids have high speed broadband so they can do homework and people can do their jobs. The farm economy is a major concern. We just passed bill on the house floor yesterday that I was the lead author on that paused farm foreclosures until December 1. Making sure that farmers are able to bridge this gap and withstand the farm is really important. Paid family leave is something that is really important too. We need to make sure that when people are sick they have economic security to stay home and they don’t feel that they have to go to work to get a paycheck and risk others getting sick too.”

Prom [Erina Prom, vice chair of the Le Sueur-Henderson School Board]: “There’s a quote by an educator that I’ve been coming back to over and over. Just the idea of ‘Everybody talks about returning to normal.’ Normal wasn’t working and we shouldn’t actually go back to what it used to be. Together, we actually have an opportunity make a new normal that works for everybody. The quote is from Dwayne Reed and he says ‘I hope that our new normal today exposes what was wrong with our old normal yesterday and sets us up for for a better normal tomorrow.’ COVID-19 has laid bare so many inequities amongst Minnesotans and we have the opportunity to really go in and do more than a band-aid fix. We can address inequities in healthcare access and prescription drug coverage, we can address the inequities of internet across the state of Minnesota with border-to-border broadband, we have the opportunity to invest in clean energy across the state of Minnesota while also ensuring that it’s an affordable option.”

Candidate Doria Drost running for District 16A supports broadband

West Central Tribune reports…

Doria Drost, of Lynd, who turns 21 on May 22, is the DFL-endorsed candidate to challenge the incumbent, according to a news release from her campaign. …

Drost said her campaign platform is focused on rural issues, making health care and housing more affordable, improving representation for the agricultural industry, and reforming Minnesota public education. She supports border-to-border broadband, locally owned small businesses, and efforts to improve equal and quality education, she stated in her announcement.

District 16A includes a portion of Lyon and all of Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine counties including the communities of Marshall, Granite Falls, the Upper Sioux Community, Canby, Dawson, and Madison.

MN DFL endorses Mindy Kimmel for MN House 16B, she endorses better broadband

The New Ulm Journal reports

Thursday, Mindy Kimmel, candidate for Minnesota House 16B was unanimously endorsed by the Minnesota DFL.

She recognizes the need for better broadband for all…

“COVID-19 has exposed issues we have in rural Minnesota,” she said.

Broadband access is a crucial need. Kimmel said with so many people working from home now the need for high speed internet access is a necessity. For many in rural Minnesota the connection is no longer sufficient.

Rep Ecklund to announces re-election highlighting broadband work

Mesabi Daily News reports…

State Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, announced Tuesday that he is seeking re-election to the Minnesota House of Representatives in November, and will again seek the DFL party endorsement. Ecklund is currently serving his third term representing District 3A in the House, which includes all or part of Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties.

He mentions his work in broadband…

In Greater Minnesota, Ecklund has worked to boost investments in high-speed broadband infrastructure.

“Families, students and businesses all depend on this 21st-century technology, and in 2019, he successfully championed legislation to deliver $40 million in funding toward the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program over two years,” according to the press release. “He is also a strong advocate for northern Minnesota’s heritage including outdoor recreation opportunities like game and fish habitat, parks and trails, and economic opportunities through mining, forestry, tourism and emerging industries.

Candidate Lewis reaches to rural voters through broadband

The Brainerd Dispatchv reports on Jason Lewis’ visit to the area…

While Lewis has spent much of his life in the Woodbury suburb of the Twin Cities metro, or out of state in Colorado and Iowa, he said it’s a matter of shared experience to reach rural Minnesotans. This shared experience is one he’s acquired, he said, through years spent in small towns, or vacationing along the Whitefish Chain, or listening to rural concerns about estate taxes, broadband, mining or job development.

Congressman Stauber puts broadband on his reelection plan

Brainerd Dispatch reports…

Congressman Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, met with supporters Monday, Jan. 20, in Brainerd to announce his bid for reelection in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District — a campaign that, if successful, would mark the first time a Republican has been able to win a second term in the district in 76 years.

He mentions continued support for broadband…

In addition, Stauber noted he intends to continue efforts to improve roads and bridges, small business opportunities and rural broadband, while defending senior-oriented programs like Medicaid and Social Security, as well as other rural-centric initiatives as long as he’s in office.

Candidate Bloomberg visits Wells MN – mentions investing in broadband

Duluth News Tribune reports…

Former New York City mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg ventured into rural Minnesota on a campaign stop to discuss the issues pressing rural America’s farmers.

Apparently broadband was one hot topic…

According to a Tuesday news release from Bloomberg’s campaign, Wells was one of three campaign stops Bloomberg made on Wednesday, in addition to Chicago and Akron, Ohio. He aimed to tout his economic proposal, which he says will “bring more opportunities to people and places that have been shortchanged by Donald Trump,” both rural and urban, by increasing the minimum wage, prioritizing training and education and investing in rural broadband.

Michelle Lee running to represent District 11 – broadband is one reason

Local campaigns are starting and it’s nice to see broadband make the short list of topics important enough to be mentioned at the onset. Pine City Pioneer reports…

Michelle Lee has formally announced her campaign to represent  District 11 in the Minnesota  Senate. The Moose Lake resident will seek the DFL endorsement at the district convention in March.

Lee told supporters and attendees of the HD-11A Homegrown Harvest Dinner Fundraiser as long as the Minnesota Senate is controlled by Republicans, access to quality healthcare, first class education and  training of our future workforce, the expansion of broadband and attention to the critical needs of our infrastructure in Greater Minnesota are in jeopardy.

Democratic candidates’ take on broadband plan – and IIA’s view to 5G

Next Gov recently ran a letter to the editor from Bruce Mehlman, founding co-chairman of Internet Innovation Alliance. It gives a quick synopsis on how Democtractic candidates are leaning in regards to broadband…

In a very crowded Democratic primary—October’s presidential primary debate was the largest in American history—the issue of broadband access is popping up with great (and welcome) frequency. With this month’s debate fast-approaching on Nov. 20, candidates are continuing to try to distinguish themselves and, as often happens in campaigns, there’s a bidding war going on.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, has proposed spending $20 billion on broadband access; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren quadruples that with a proposal for $85 billion. Not to be outdone, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to spend $150 billion on broadband deployment (as former Sen. Everett Dirksen once said, “A billion here, a billion there; pretty soon you’re talking about real money”).  Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar wants to connect every house to the internet by 2022 as part of a $1 trillion plan to improve the country’s infrastructure. …

Mayor Pete Buttigieg favors a “public option” for broadband in areas “[w]here companies have not provided coverage or where it is unaffordable”, with a total cost of about $80 billion.

Mehlman’s not very positive of most of their plans in short because he seems to prefer a provider-focused plan and his focus seems to be on 5G…

If the private sector does not have the right incentives to invest in broadband deployments, how can it invest the tens, even hundreds, of billions each year that will be necessary for the full deployment of 5G wireless technology? Without those investments, we cannot make the next leaps in connectivity and security—things like truly connected cars, the internet of things, and other innovations that will improve our daily lives even more radically than in the past decade. If the dollars do not come from the private sector, we can expect presidential candidates in 2024 or 2028 to call for trillions in government investments, while bemoaning our national failure to keep up with Chinese 5G investments that are happening today.

Worse, some of the Democratic candidates’ proposals would permit this spending only for certain types of groups—not private-sector network operators who have delivered broadband across the country for the past 20 years … but instead only for local governments, nonprofits, and cooperative organizations. Some candidates explicitly favor government-funded networks to the exclusion of private players.

He has a solution…

Fortunately, there is a better way: Encourage private sector investments and then target federal funding to areas that, principally for reasons of geography, are difficult to serve. There is no need to reinvent the wheel—or to shift broadband to government-owned-and-operated networks—for everyone to enjoy fast broadband service across the country.

But the focus on 5G gives me pause to question how highly he has prioritized rural America in his plan.