Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, authored a bill, H.F. 1137, that would provide $100 million to improve high-speed internet access for unserved and underserved areas of the state.
Kresha has been a strong proponent of broadband expansion throughout his first six years in the House and has successfully authored previous legislation to fund Minnesota's Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program, according to a new release.
"We've had great success with this Border to Border program and I am optimistic that we will be able to provide even more to expand rural internet service," Kresha stated in the release. "Sometimes metro legislators seem to forget there are areas of the state such as ours that still are lacking in terms of access to high-speed internet. That makes it difficult for us to keep up with the rest of the world in this era of technology and it's why I have been working so hard to expand broadband and patch up those black holes in service. Students, local governments, the health care industry and Main Street businesses are just some of the entities which need fast, reliable internet connections to succeed."
The Border to Border program was launched in 2014 and covers up to 50 percent of a project's infrastructure costs, with a maximum amount of $5 million per request. Reports indicate, through the 2017 grant cycle, the state program has invested $85 million in broadband improvements, providing service to nearly 34,000 households, almost 5,200 businesses and 300 community institutions. Funding the Legislature provided for this program in 2018 was vetoed by then-Gov. Mark Dayton.