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House and Senate committees heard bills establishing the Office of Broadband Development last week. Both bills are quickly moving through the committee process and each have one more committee stop before hitting the House and Senate floors.
(Published Mar 18, 2013)
Legislation establishing an Office of Broadband Development was heard in both chambers last week. It will be presented again this week in finance committees in both the House and Senate. Both Senate and House authors stated 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.
HF 1255 was heard in the House Labor, Workplace, and Regulated Industries on March 5. It was then re-referred to the House Transportation Policy Committee, due to Section 2 of the bill, which establishes a fiber collaboration database that will be maintained and updated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Construction schedules would be posted on the Office’s website database in order to better coordinate projects and “dig once” efforts. After a brief committee discussion, the bill was passed and re-referred to the House Government Operations. On Friday, that committee unanimously passed the bill. It will be heard in the Commerce Consumer Protection and Finance Committee on Tuesday, March 19, before being sent to the House floor.
The Senate Jobs, Agriculture, and Rural Development Committee took up the Senate version (SF 1128,) Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing) of the bill on Wednesday. The bill differs from the House version in that it describes an interagency office with a governor appointed director. The bill was re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee where it awaits a hearing.
Differences Between the Two Bills
There are two primary differences between HF 1255 and SF 1128. The House version puts the office under the Department of Commerce’s jurisdiction. In contrast, the Senate version gives authority to the governor to appoint a director to work with commissioners from numerous agencies such as Commerce, the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Office of Enterprise Technology (MN.IT), and MNDOT.
Another difference between the two bills is the appropriation note. Currently, HF 1255 does not include a specific appropriation. SF1128 includes a $500,000 per fiscal year (2014 and 2015) appropriation. Both bills differ from the governor’s proposed budget, which included a $500,000 budget for the 2014-15 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) and is recognized by our board as a 2013 legislative priority.
Questions? Contact Laura Ziegler at email@example.com or at (651) 281-1267.
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