Senator Goggin disappointed in Gubernatorial veto that led to lack of broadband funding

In a letter to the editor to the Red Wing Republican Eagle, Senator Goggin said…

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in the governor and his decision to veto these two bills that would have helped so many Minnesota families. …

Here are some other things the governor vetoed: …

Building on last year’s commitment to broadband access, we added $15 million more for the Border-to-Border Broadband program, so underserved and unserved communities could finally get access to critical high speed internet.

Mankato Free Press talks about broadband funding at the Legislature

The Mankato Free Press reporter make commentary on (and gives a great brief history of) broadband at the legislature…

A few years ago, broadband funding was all the rage at the state Capitol.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration created the Office of Broadband Development in 2013 looking to fund more projects in Greater Minnesota. Local providers were ready to branch out. People expected lightning-fast internet access across the state.

Fast-forward a few years and much of the state has some kind of broadband access. Yet some communities remain using dial-up, even within south-central Minnesota, which is why local economic development experts are likely lauding Dayton’s $30 million broadband proposal.

The governor announced his plan Wednesday to help an estimated 11,000 households, businesses and organizations surf the web a little easier.

He notes what local legislators are saying…

Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, believes there likely will be a broadband bill this session, but it’ll set $20 million for grants instead of the governor’s $30 million proposal. Lawmakers passed a $35 million grant bill last year, during budget discussions.

Draheim is also interested in securing state funding for satellite and wireless internet access for rural areas that don’t yet have broadband access. He’d also like to see the state mandate reports on wireless speeds from Minnesota providers — he, like many people in our region, also gets frustrated over few internet provider choices, ongoing data speeds that are less than we pay for, and more than a few internet outages each year.

Still, every little bit helps for an industry where companies need grant funding to build those networks in rural areas. They need far more miles of data fiber, and thus far more thousands of dollars, to build networks connecting agricultural land and small towns.

Rep Layman optimistic for the legislative session and interested in broadband

The Citizen Tribune reports that Representative Sandy Layman is optimistic …

The 2018 Minnesota Legislature opens at noon Tuesday, Feb. 20, and Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) is optimistic that work between now and session end on May 21 will be off to a good start building off what she believes were big wins last year.

And thinking about broadband…

Personally, Layman wants to put together a bipartisan coalition to leverage more broadband dollars.

“Legislative leaders are hopeful for a budget surplus, but we won’t know with certainty until the forecast comes out later this month. If there is a surplus, broadband expansion in Greater Minnesota is near the top of my list.”

Although the Legislature passed a large bonding bill last year, Layman says 2018 could also be a bonding year. A number of projects from Deer River to Cohasset to Grand Rapids are looking for bonding support.

“I anticipate a good deal of discussion about the size and scope of such a bill,” she added.

Layman expects to be spending most of her weekdays in St. Paul until adjournment in May. For constituents to stay informed of what the Legislature is working on, Layman suggests signing up for weekly session updates at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/5b.

Minnesota Rural Legislative Interests – transportation, bonding, child care & broadband

The Voice of Alexandria (KXRA) recently published an article on the rural take on the legislature…

Last year, the Republican-led Legislature, buoyed by GOP gains in rural areas in the 2016 election, passed some favorable legislation for Greater Minnesota, such as a bonding bill that will pay for public works projects and an increase in funding for the Local Government Aid program. This year, lawmakers will meet for just three months – Feb. 20 to May 21 – with a projected $188 million deficit (based on a November economic forecast) serving as a backdrop.

That hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for legislation that could help the rural economy – at least for organizations that represent rural interests.

They spoke to a few associations and organizations representing rural interests. Growth & Justice listed broadband as a priority…

Meanwhile, a think tank that’s been focused on issues related to the rural economy, Growth & Justice, hopes to build on a list of a dozen priorities it released during last year’s session. Besides a bonding package and child care needs, among other issues, the organization would like to see more broadband expansion and investment in a program that helps to equip workers with enhanced skills for technical jobs.

“We’ve got to be able to hold all of these issues up at the same time and understand how they all interrelate,” said Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard, who joined the organization in January.

And the article notes broadband as a topic to watch…

Broadband expansion: High-speed broadband has expanded into many remote regions, with 87 percent of Minnesotans now having access to high-speed internet, according to state estimates. But the work to connect everyone continues. Last year, the Legislature set aside $20 million for the Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program, which provides grants to providers for the infrastructure they need to expand their reach. This year, the Greater Minnesota Partnership would like to see at least $50 million for the Border to Border program, with at least half of the money made available to areas that lack access to 2026 state speed goals — 100 megabits down, 20 megabits up.  The current federal standard is 25 megabits down, 3 megabits up.

First Congressional District candidate Vicki Jensen promotes better broadband

The New Ulm Journal reports that First Congressional District candidate Vicki Jensen talked up the need for better broadband on a recent visit to New Ulm and surrounding area…

Jensen also spoke on the need for rural economic development, which includes infrastructure improvements like broadband.

“Broadband is the best economic tool we can have for our rural economy,” she said. “We did it with electric and we can do it with broadband. We just need the will to do it.”

Representative Daniels notes that technology-friendly policy is important to MN economic development

Owatonna’s People’s Press recent ran an letter to the editor from Rep Daniels. (Rep. Brian Daniels, R-Faribault, is the state representative for District 24B, which includes Medford, Ellendale and much of rural Steele County.) He noted legislation related to broadband…

Technology is evolving every day and it is important that we, as a state, stay ahead of the curve. In order for Minnesota to remain competitive so employers to want to build, expand, and invest in our state, we need to ensure our technological infrastructure is strong. This session, legislation was passed limiting the amount a municipality can charge to “rent” space on public infrastructure for small-cell technology. Small-cell technology uses nodes that are attached to streetlights, utility poles, and other public structures in areas where there is high demand for cellular data. With more people using mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, for work and leisure, small-cell technology will help offset the capacity limits of cell towers. This technology has been expanding out of Minneapolis and St. Paul and into the suburbs, and hopefully, into Greater Minnesota as demand continues to increase. Currently, cellular communication companies are working to debut 5G technology, which is 100x faster than the current 4G service and will be compatible with this small-cell technology. This session, we also provided $20 million in grant funding to bring increased broadband internet access to residents throughout Greater Minnesota. Increased access to faster broadband and the introduction of small-cell technology will only mean good things for the future of Minnesota.

Mankato Free Press asks legislators to invest in rural broadband

Mankato Free Press recently ran an editorial…

If broadband access is the fuel that can power rural and outstate economic development, Minnesota is in need of a fill up.

For the last two budget cycles, Gov. Mark Dayton and Democrats have pushed to add from $60 million to $100 million to the state’s broadband grant program, and the Legislature has grudgingly provided $20 million. In the last round of funding, the funding requests were double the total amount of funding available.

Clearly, outstate Minnesota still needs broadband infrastructure. Some 22 percent of rural households in Minnesota, about 202,000, don’t have access to typical broadband, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

They highlight need in their area…

In the Mankato region, broadband coverage is worst in Martin and Sibley counties, with about 45 percent of households without broadband coverage. Some 30 to 40 percent of households in Watonwan and Waseca County have no access to typical broadband. Even in more populous Blue Earth and Nicollet counties about 20 to 25 percent of households are without broadband

I’ve heard rumors that Legislators are growing weary of the topic of broadband, looks like constituents aren’t…

The Republican Party campaigned in the last election how outstate Minnesota was left behind and the Twin Cities was somehow the recipient of the state’s largesse. But the GOP Legislature had a chance to put its funding where its campaign rhetoric was and came up short on broadband.

As the demand for the dollars shows, we need to do more. We urge the Legislature, and Republican leaders in the House and Senate, to up their commitment to outstate Minnesota and expand broadband program funding