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SF 2056

1st Engrossment - 88th Legislature (2013 - 2014) Posted on 03/13/2014 08:42am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language. underscored = added, new language.

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A bill for an act
relating to telecommunications; broadband; establishing a program to award
grants for the expansion of broadband service to underserved areas; appropriating
money;proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 116J.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

[116J.394] DEFINITIONS.

(a) For the purposes of sections 116J.394 to 116J.396, the following terms have
the meanings given them.

(b) "Broadband" or "broadband service" has the meaning given in section 116J.39,
subdivision 1, paragraph (b).

(c) "Broadband infrastructure" means networks of deployed telecommunications
equipment and technologies necessary to provide high-speed Internet access and other
advanced telecommunications services for end-users.

(d) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the Department of Employment and
Economic Development.

(e) "Last-mile infrastructure" means broadband infrastructure that serves as the
final leg connecting the broadband service provider's network to the end-use customer's
on-premises telecommunications equipment.

(f) "Middle-mile infrastructure" means broadband infrastructure that links a
broadband service provider's core network infrastructure to last-mile infrastructure.

(g) "Political subdivision" means any county, city, town, school district, special
district or other political subdivision, or public corporation.

(h) "Underserved areas" means areas of Minnesota in which households or businesses
lack access to wireline broadband service at speeds that meet the state broadband goals of
ten to 20 megabits per second download and five to ten megabits per second upload.

(i) "Unserved areas" means areas of Minnesota in which households or businesses
lack access to wireline broadband service at speeds that meet a Federal Communications
Commission threshold of four megabits per second download and one megabit per second
upload.

Sec. 2.

[116J.395] BORDER-TO-BORDER BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT
GRANT AND LOAN PROGRAM.

Subdivision 1.

Establishment.

A grant program is established under the
commissioner of employment and economic development to award grants and loans to
eligible applicants in order to promote the expansion of access to broadband service in
unserved or underserved areas of the state.

Subd. 2.

Eligible expenditures.

Grants and loans may be awarded under this
section to fund the acquisition and installation of middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure
that support broadband service scalable to speeds of at least 100 megabits per second
download and 100 megabits per second upload.

Subd. 3.

Eligible applicants.

Eligible applicants for grants or loans awarded under
this section include:

(1) an incorporated business or a partnership;

(2) a political subdivision;

(3) an Indian tribe;

(4) a Minnesota nonprofit organization organized under chapter 317A;

(5) a Minnesota cooperative association organized under chapter 308A or 308B; and

(6) a Minnesota limited liability corporation organized under chapter 322B for the
purpose of expanding broadband access.

Subd. 4.

Application process.

An eligible applicant must submit an application
to the commissioner on a form prescribed by the commissioner. The commissioner shall
develop administrative procedures governing the application and grant and loan award
process. The commissioner shall act as fiscal agent for the grant and loan program and
shall be responsible for receiving and reviewing grant and loan applications and awarding
grants and loans under this section.

Subd. 5.

Application contents.

An applicant for a grant or loan under this section
shall provide the following information on the application:

(1) the location of the project;

(2) the kind and amount of broadband infrastructure to be purchased for the project;

(3) evidence regarding the unserved or underserved nature of the community in
which the project is to be located;

(4) the number of households passed that will have access to broadband service as a
result of the project, or whose broadband service will be upgraded as a result of the project;

(5) significant community institutions that will benefit from the proposed project;

(6) evidence of community support for the project;

(7) the total cost of the project;

(8) sources of funding or in-kind contributions for the project that will supplement
any grant or loan award; and

(9) any additional information requested by the commissioner.

Subd. 6.

Awarding grants and loans.

(a) In evaluating applications and awarding
grants and loans, the commissioner shall give priority to applications that are constructed
in areas identified by the director of the Office of Broadband Development as unserved.

(b) In evaluating applications and awarding grants or loans, the commissioner may
give priority to applications that:

(1) are constructed in areas identified by the director of the Office of Broadband
Development as underserved;

(2) offer new or substantially upgraded broadband service to important community
institutions, including, but not limited to, libraries, educational institutions, public safety
facilities, and healthcare facilities;

(3) facilitate the use of telemedicine and electronic health records;

(4) serve economically distressed areas of the state, as measured by indices of
unemployment, poverty, or population loss that are significantly greater than the statewide
average;

(5) provide technical support and train residents, businesses, and institutions in the
community served by the project to utilize broadband service;

(6) include a component to actively promote the adoption of the newly available
broadband services in the community;

(7) provide evidence of strong support for the project from citizens, government,
businesses, and institutions in the community;

(8) provide access to broadband service to a greater number of unserved or
underserved households and businesses; or

(9) leverage greater amounts of funding for the project from other private and
public sources.

(c) The commissioner shall endeavor to award grants and loans under this section to
qualified applicants in all regions of the state.

EFFECTIVE DATE.

This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Sec. 3.

[116J.396] BORDER-TO-BORDER BROADBAND FUND.

Subdivision 1.

Account established.

The border-to-border broadband fund account
is established as a separate account in the special revenue fund in the state treasury. The
commissioner shall credit to the account appropriations and transfers to the account.
Earnings, such as interest, dividends, and any other earnings arising from assets of the
account, must be credited to the account. Funds remaining in the account at the end of a
fiscal year are not canceled to the general fund, but remain in the account until expended.
The commissioner shall manage the account.

Subd. 2.

Expenditures.

Money in the account may be used only:

(1) for grant and loan awards made under section 116J.395, including reasonable
expenses incurred by the Department of Employment and Economic Development to
administer that section; or

(2) to supplement revenues raised by bonds sold by local units of government for
broadband infrastructure development.

Subd. 3.

Appropriation.

Money in the account is appropriated to the commissioner
for the purposes of subdivision 2.

EFFECTIVE DATE.

This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Sec. 4. APPROPRIATION.

$100,000,000 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of
employment and economic development to award grants and loans for the development of
broadband infrastructure under Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.395, or to supplement
revenues raised by bonds sold by local units of government for broadband infrastructure
development. This appropriation does not cancel to the general fund but remains available
until expended.

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