Will MN Lawmakers Help With Internet Speeds in Rural MN in 2017?

Rural Lawmakers Calling for Broadband Funding

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota lawmakers are facing several issues during the 2017 legislative session, and providing funding to bring reliable broadband access to rural Minnesota is shaping up to be one of the first topics they’ll have to tackle.

Republican State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer of Sherburne County says her district is just one of many all over Minnesota in critical need of reliable internet. She says that lawmakers will “without a doubt” be talking about rural broadband funding.

Democratic Governor Mark Dayton’s task force on rural broadband is calling for $100 million in on-going biennial funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, a program designed to expand broadband service in unserved and underserved regions throughout Minnesota. Senator Kiffmeyer advises starting with business districts in order to avoid wasting money as technology develops, stating, “You want to get that learning curve and get the benefit of that so that what you don’t do is put in place an expensive technology that later on you find, ‘oh it would have been a lot better if we had done it this way.'”

The governor’s task force is also recommending creating a legislative cyber security commission, requiring housing funded with public money to have broadband cabling installed and subsidizing broadband service for low-income households.

However, Governor Dayton is working with a Republican-held legislature that isn’t keen on additional spending.

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Julia Erynn