Minnesota Representative Advocates for Broadband
by Rep. Sandy Layman
This session, I'm privileged to serve on the Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division. This assignment provides me the opportunity to advocate for infrastructure and other improvements to continue developing the economies in our area and other rural parts of the state.
One of the most significant issues this committee addresses is the need for broadband expansion in Greater Minnesota. Recently, we heard legislation I'm championing to provide increased funding for our state's border-to-border broadband program, which funds broadband expansion to unserved or underserved parts of the state.
This $15 million is now a part of this bill, which the House majority and governor indicate is a priority.
Although I hoped legislators could agree on a much larger number, the broadband legislation I authored last year that passed and was sent to the governor would have provided this $15 million for 2019. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by then-Gov. Dayton - and this funding was lost.
By pursuing this extra $15 million again this year, I'm looking to restore that lost funding.
Broadband's importance to our area cannot be overstated. Access to quality broadband is a critical infrastructure need for rural communities across the state. Put simply, broadband allows us to be connected to the world. Its expansion will help small businesses grow, allow folks to work from home, and expand educational opportunities in rural schools.
The countless constituents I've heard from and the energized groups visiting the Capitol clearly demonstrate the strong grassroots support for this issue.
Making broadband more accessible and affordable to communities like ours isn't a Republican or Democrat issue. It's a rural issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the governor on it in the months ahead.
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