GMNP Board adopts 2021 legislative priorities
At its December meeting, the Partnership’s Board of Directors approved the Partnership’s legislative priorities for the 2021 session. While the policy priorities will not change this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new demand for action on two of our top priorities—access to and speed of internet service throughout Greater Minnesota, and stabilizing and growing our child care industry.
As the pandemic took hold and families parents found themselves working from home and their children learning from home, Minnesotans and policy leaders finally bore witness to what insufficient internet access in Greater Minnesota means: connectivity issues for people working from home and children in distance learning, and students in fast food restaurant parking lots using free wifi.
Minnesota has a state goal of providing all properties access to high-speed internet with speeds of 100mb/s download and 20 mb/s upload by 2026. While all metro counties are at least 98 percent of the way towards achieving that goal, counties in Greater Minnesota range from 99 percent achievement on the high end to 30 percent on the low end. This session, the Partnership will work to secure more funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband program to make sure we achieve the state’s goal.
Prior to the pandemic, Greater Minnesota was short more than 40,000 child care slots. This shortage has a significant impact on employers trying to find new employees, and young parents deciding if they can even work given their household needs. The pandemic has only worsened this crisis. Official numbers won’t be out until early in 2021, but we know a large number of providers—both family care and centers—have left the market place. We also know that a significant number cannot stay open much longer given the financial stain their businesses are facing. This session, we will continue to push for more support—both financial and regulatory reform—for child care providers, opportunities to grow care capacity in all corners of Greater Minnesota, and solutions that address the shortage at the community level.
The workforce housing shortage continues to be a major challenge for our businesses and employees. In order to increase the housing stock available to our workforce throughout Greater Minnesota, the Partnership will work to secure investments and regulatory reforms that aim to reduce the private market cost of developing new affordable and market-rate housing, revitalize existing housing, and look for ways to increase housing for senior citizens that meets their care and life needs.
For more information on the Partnership’s legislative priorities, please click here.