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The broadband office provision is included in omnibus bills and will now go to conference committee.
(Published Apr 29, 2013)
Legislation establishing an Office of Broadband Development passed in both chambers. The legislation is based on a policy recommendation from the Governor’s Broadband Task Force to create a go-to office.
The office would aim to work with public and private entities in order to further develop broadband projects, focus on efforts to meet the state’s 2015 broadband goals, produce a report on various related topics, and coordinate a fiber collaboration database with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
On April 15, the House passed HF 729 (Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul), the omnibus jobs and economic development bill, on a 75-57 vote. The bill included language to establish the Office of Broadband Development within the Department of Commerce. The broadband office provision was a stand-alone bill, HF 1255/SF 1128 authored by Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing), that was included in the omnibus bill.
On April 19, the Senate passed SF 1607 (Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), the omnibus environment, natural resources, agriculture, commerce, energy, jobs, and economic development bill, on a 38-25 vote. The bill contains language for the establishment of the broadband office under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department as well.
The bills will now go to conference committee to sort out language differences between the two versions.
The primary difference between the two bill provisions is the appropriation note. The House version appropriates $250,000 per year, while the Senate bill funds the broadband office at $500,000 per year for fiscal year 2014-2015. The governor’s proposed budget included a $500,000 budget for the 2014-2015 biennium.
The League will continue to monitor the progress of the bills, which support LE-14: State Broadband Policy Priorities for Cities (page 51 in 2013 City Policies [pdf]) and is recognized by the LMC Board as a 2013 legislative priority.
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Contact Laura Ziegler
(651) 281-1267 or (800) 925-1122
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