GMNP legislative priorities receive hearings

January is always an interesting time around the Capitol. The first few weeks of hearings are always orienting members to the committee jurisdiction and learning about the various stakeholder groups who are impacted by the body’s decisions. Now that February is here, we are starting to see committees take a more active role in considering specific legislation.

The first GMNP priority to see action was HF14, authored by Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls), which would invest $120 million over the next two years into the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program. This bill was heard in the House Industrial Education and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee. This is the level of funding that is needed over the next 5 years to reach the state’s 2026 broadband goal of all Minnesota businesses and homes having access to at least one broadband provider with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second. In his budget, Governor Walz made a smaller recommendation of $50 million for the next two years.

Our other two primary issues—child care and housing—will be debated next week. On Monday, the House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee will hear HF413, authored by Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), which will give $4 million to the six Initiative Foundations to support their work to stabilize and grow the child care industry throughout Greater Minnesota.

On Thursday, the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee will hold a hearing that will feature a couple of agenda items on Greater Minnesota. First, our partner organization, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, will provide an overview of the housing challenges facing Greater Minnesota communities. Following that, the committee will hear HF619, authored by Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), which will invest $6 million into the Greater Minnesota Workforce Housing Grant program and change its guidelines to make the program more effective across all Greater Minnesota communities.

We will keep you posted in future newsletters about continued advancements of our 2021 legislative priorities. For more information on the GMNP policy agenda, please visit http://gmnp.org/issues.