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Legislators express support of task force recommendations, but caution that expensive initiatives may not get much traction at the Capitol.
(Published Feb 4, 2013)
Key legislators met with the Governor’s Broadband Task Force on Jan. 29, and indicated they would like to work with the task force on its recently released recommendations. However, they also pointed out that there may not be an appetite at the Capitol for ideas with higher price tags.
Rep. Sheldon Johnson (D-St. Paul), chair of the House Labor, Workplace, and Regulated Industries Committee, voiced his support for possible legislation that includes staff positions for a broadband development office under the Commerce Department, the development of a fiber project database, and the implementation of a “dig-once” policy.
All of these ideas are included in the governor’s budget proposal. The governor included $500,000 over a two-year span for these initiatives.
Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin), chair of the Senate Jobs, Agriculture, and Rural Development Committee, also attended the task force meeting and expressed similar support for the governor’s proposal. Both chairs have heard testimony from the Broadband Task Force chair, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, in their respective committees.
Some recommendations from the task force that were not a part of the governor’s proposal include a tax credit to providers as an incentive to broaden Internet access, and a sales tax exemption for most telecommunications equipment. The rough estimate for the sales tax exemption is tagged at $10 million over two years.
So far, no broadband legislation has been introduced in the House or Senate.
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Contact Laura Ziegler
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