Broadband Development Program Bill Moves Forward in House

The House appropriation includes $25 million toward the grant program.
(Published Mar 31, 2014)

The House Ways and Means Committee on March 28 approved HF 2976, the bill establishing the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, and voted to include it in the omnibus supplemental budget bill (HF 3172).

HF 2976 also provides one-time funding of $25 million for the grant program, and $450,000 to continue broadband mapping services for the state.

The original House bill establishing the broadband grant program, HF 2615, (Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth) was heard by the committee earlier this month and laid over to be included in the omnibus bill. Eligibility for the grant funds would be available to unserved and underserved areas of the state.

Unserved areas are defined as those that don’t have access to the Federal Communications Commission established download speed of four megabits per second and one megabit per second upload speed. Underserved areas are those that don’t have access to the state’s broadband speed goals of 10 to 20 megabits per second download and five to 10 megabits per second upload.

The companion bill, SF 2633 (Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

More omnibus bill decisions coming soon
HF 2976 was one of three budget bills voted to be included in the House Ways and Means Committee’s omnibus supplemental budget bill on March 28. The committee will continue to roll bills into HF 3172 on March 31. Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal), author of the supplemental budget bill and chair of the committee, stated that the bill is expected to be debated on the House floor on April 3.

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