On Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee heard three bills that provide funds for the rural broadband grant program and appropriation for the programs. Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) authored one of the bills, SF 1186, that will provide $25 million in 2022 and 2023 to bring service to unserved areas in Minnesota.
“Working, learning, and receiving health care services are increasingly reliant on internet access, and this pandemic has only shined a spotlight on that fact,” said Senator Draheim. “In my district, and across Greater Minnesota, there are underserved communities with thousands of people who still lack any reliable internet access. Legislation like this is critical to developing our infrastructure and ensuring that we expand broadband access to the students, families, businesses, and communities that need this service to succeed.”
The Border to Border Broadband Fund targets the development of permanent broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. Minnesota contains large segments of the state that fall into the unserved and underserved categories, which shows that this infrastructure is a critical need.
This package of bills will provide accessible broadband to rural Minnesotans and ensure that their needs are being met. Internet access is not a luxury but a necessary utility in today’s world, and we must bring it to everyone in the state.