Negotiated Small Cell Wireless Language Heads to Governor

Almost all of the League’s primary concerns have been addressed, and the League now has a neutral position on the bill.
(Published May 22, 2017)

A provision that would allow small cell wireless equipment to be placed on city-owned infrastructure in the public right of way was passed by both the House and Senate early on May 22 as part of the omnibus jobs bill. After months of negotiations, almost all of the League’s primary concerns with the legislation have been addressed.

The measure was passed as a stand-alone bill (HF 739) on the House floor on May 20. The following day, it was included in the omnibus jobs bill, SF 1456, which will now go to Gov. Dayton for approval.

Negotiations on bill lead to League’s neutral position
Over the last two-and-a-half weeks, Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-Buffalo) has convened several meetings with cities, municipal utilities, wireless providers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint), and cable representatives to negotiate HF 739. Similar meetings were conducted earlier in session by the Senate author, Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound) and by the original House author, Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska).

Through these negotiations and feedback from stakeholders, including city engineers, administrators, telecommunications municipal attorneys, and others, on amendments to the bill, almost all the League’s concerns were addressed. While the League still does not believe legislation is necessary, the League is now neutral on the bill as passed by the Legislature.

The resulting bill language in Minnesota, though initially in the form that the wireless industry has introduced nationwide and states have adopted, successfully preserves the integrity of local control not retained in other states. The League was originally opposed to the bill.

History of the bill
The wireless industry has actively pushed small cell wireless deployment across the country. Just this year, approximately 18 states had a small cell bill introduced with seven of those bills passing. Although the bills vary from state to state, they all have common provisions pushed by the industry.

In the Minnesota bill, the 125 cities that have municipal electric utilities are exempt from the bill. There are also many other differences between the proposed Minnesota bill and language adopted in other states

Outreach to legislators and the governor this year
Thank you, city officials, for your previous advocacy on this bill to legislators and others during the legislative session. You can continue to communicate with the governor about this bill.

Additional resources

Videos of the May 22 House and Senate floor sessions will be posted on the Legislature’s website:

For more background information about this topic, read a previous Bulletin article.

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