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SF 8

as introduced - 91st Legislature, 2020 5th Special Session (2020 - 2020) Posted on 10/13/2020 07:47am

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

Current Version - as introduced

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A bill for an act
relating to telecommunications; establishing a funding program for distance learning
equipment; establishing a grant program for telemedicine equipment purchased
to deal with COVID-19; requiring reports; appropriating money.

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

Section 1. new text beginDISTANCE LEARNING BROADBAND ACCESS GRANT PROGRAM.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Definition. new text end

new text begin For the purposes of this section, "commissioner" means the
commissioner of education.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Establishment. new text end

new text begin A distance learning broadband access grant program is
established in the Department of Education to provide wireless or wire-line broadband
access for a limited duration to students currently lacking Internet access so that the students
may participate in distance learning offered by school districts and charter schools during
the peacetime public health emergency period that relates to the infectious disease known
as COVID-19.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Eligible expenditures. new text end

new text begin A grant awarded under this section may be used to:
new text end

new text begin (1) provide a student with the equipment necessary for the student to use a broadband
connection to access learning materials available on the Internet through a mobile wireless
or wire-line broadband connection;
new text end

new text begin (2) reimburse a school district or charter school for actual costs incurred to provide
emergency distance learning wireless or wire-line broadband access during the 2019-2020
and 2020-2021 school years; and
new text end

new text begin (3) reimburse a school district or charter school for the cost of wireless or wire-line
broadband Internet access for households with students that did not otherwise have Internet
access before March 13, 2020, for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Eligible applicants. new text end

new text begin A Minnesota school district or charter school may apply
for a grant award under this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Application review. new text end

new text begin (a) An applicant for a grant under this section must file
an application with the commissioner on a form developed by the commissioner. The
commissioner may consult with the commissioner of employment and economic development
when developing the form.
new text end

new text begin (b) An application for a grant under this subdivision must describe a school district's or
charter school's approach to identify and prioritize access for students unable to access the
Internet for distance learning and may include a description of local or private matching
grants or in-kind contributions.
new text end

new text begin (c) A school district or charter school may develop its application in cooperation with
the school district's or charter school's community education department, the school district's
or charter school's adult basic education program provider, a public library, an Internet
service provider, or other community partner.
new text end

new text begin (d) The commissioner must prioritize applicants based on an evaluation of the following
factors: (1) the location of a school in or near an unserved area of the state, (2) the percent
of students that live in a household without wired or wireless broadband service, and (3)
the percent of students that were provided Internet access by the district or charter school
under subdivision 3, clause (3).
new text end

new text begin (e) The commissioner must develop administrative procedures governing the application
and grant award process.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Grant amount. new text end

new text begin The commissioner must establish a minimum and maximum
per-pupil amount for grants awarded under this section based on (1) the number of districts
and charter schools that apply for a grant, (2) the total amount of money requested in the
applications, and (3) the availability of federal money for a similar purpose.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end

Sec. 2. new text beginTELEMEDICINE EQUIPMENT REIMBURSEMENT GRANT PROGRAM.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Definitions. new text end

new text begin (a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have
the meanings given.
new text end

new text begin (b) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of employment and economic development.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Telemedicine" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 62A.671,
subdivision 9.
new text end

new text begin (d) "Telemedicine equipment" means multimedia communications equipment and
software that facilitates the delivery of telemedicine by a licensed health care provider.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Establishment. new text end

new text begin A grant program is established in the Department of
Employment and Economic Development to award grants to reimburse grantees for the
purchase and installation of telemedicine equipment needed to provide health care services
through telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure necessary health care
services are accessible to patients during the pandemic.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Eligible applicants. new text end

new text begin Eligible applicants include the following:
new text end

new text begin (1) community health clinics defined under Minnesota Statutes, section 145.9268,
subdivision 1;
new text end

new text begin (2) critical access hospitals described in Minnesota Statutes, section 144.1483, clause
(9);
new text end

new text begin (3) local public health departments as defined in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 145A;
new text end

new text begin (4) county boards as defined in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 375;
new text end

new text begin (5) individual or small group physician practices that are primarily focused on primary
care; and
new text end

new text begin (6) nursing facilities licensed under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 144A.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Eligible expenditures. new text end

new text begin A grant may be used to reimburse the cost incurred by
a grantee to purchase and install telemedicine equipment that enables the grantee to provide
health care services through telemedicine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including
the diagnosis and evaluation of patients for the COVID-19 disease during the COVID-19
pandemic.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Application; review. new text end

new text begin (a) An eligible applicant must submit a grant application
to the commissioner on a form prescribed by the commissioner. The application must
include, at a minimum:
new text end

new text begin (1) the amount of the grant requested and a description of the telemedicine equipment
for which the applicant is seeking reimbursement; and
new text end

new text begin (2) a description of the intended use of the telemedicine equipment.
new text end

new text begin (b) When developing the application, the commissioner must consult with the
commissioner of health.
new text end

new text begin (c) The commissioner may award grants on a first-come, first-served basis, and, to the
extent practicable, priority must be given to applicants:
new text end

new text begin (1) serving uninsured, underinsured, and medically underserved individuals in either
rural or urban areas; or
new text end

new text begin (2) located in areas of the state where the commissioner of health has determined that
increasing telemedicine service capabilities would improve the quality of care, access,
patient safety, or community health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Limitation. new text end

new text begin The commissioner may establish a maximum amount for a grant
awarded under this section based on the number of applications received and the total
reimbursement amount requested.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Assistance from other federal coronavirus-related sources. new text end

new text begin If a grantee
receives funds from a federal source related to coronavirus for telemedicine equipment
described in this section, the grantee must notify the commissioner of the amount received
from the federal source. If the commissioner determines that the total amount the grantee
received under this section and from the federal source exceeds the costs of the telemedicine
equipment, the commissioner must reduce the grant amount in this section so that the total
amount received does not exceed the cost of the equipment.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end

Sec. 3. new text beginSUPPLEMENTAL BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Definitions. new text end

new text begin (a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have
the meanings given.
new text end

new text begin (b) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of employment and economic development.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Broadband infrastructure" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section
116J.394.
new text end

new text begin (d) "Unserved areas" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.394.
new text end

new text begin (e) "Underserved areas" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.394.
new text end

new text begin (f) "Last-mile infrastructure" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section
116J.394.
new text end

new text begin (g) "Middle-mile infrastructure" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section
116J.394.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Establishment. new text end

new text begin A supplemental broadband access grant program is established
under the Department of Employment and Economic Development to provide new or
expanded wireless or wire-line broadband access to unserved or underserved areas of the
state where necessary for the peacetime public health emergency period that relates to the
infectious disease known as COVID-19.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Eligible expenditures. new text end

new text begin Grants 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, in unserved areas of the state where increased broadband service is
necessary for:
new text end

new text begin (1) student access to distance learning during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school
years;
new text end

new text begin (2) providing expanded telemedicine services during the peacetime public health
emergency period that relates to the infectious disease known as COVID-19;
new text end

new text begin (3) businesses to remain open during the peacetime public health emergency period that
relates to the infectious disease known as COVID-19; and
new text end

new text begin (4) telecommuting during the peacetime public health emergency period that relates to
the infectious disease known as COVID-19.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Eligible applicants. new text end

new text begin Eligible applicants for grants awarded under this section
include:
new text end

new text begin (1) an incorporated business or a partnership;
new text end

new text begin (2) a political subdivision;
new text end

new text begin (3) an Indian tribe;
new text end

new text begin (4) a Minnesota nonprofit organization organized under Minnesota Statutes, chapter
317A; or
new text end

new text begin (5) a Minnesota cooperative association organized under Minnesota Statutes, chapter
308A or 308B.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Application process. new text end

new text begin An eligible applicant must submit an application to the
commissioner on a form prescribed by the commissioner with the initial request for
applications published within 15 days of the enactment of this section. The commissioner
shall consult with the Office of Broadband Development to develop administrative procedures
governing the application and grant award process that conforms with federal guidance for
spending coronavirus relief federal funds. The commissioner shall act as fiscal agent for
the grant program and shall be responsible for receiving and reviewing grant applications
and awarding grants under this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Application contents. new text end

new text begin An applicant for a grant under this section shall provide
the following information on the application:
new text end

new text begin (1) the location of the project;
new text end

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

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

new text begin (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;
new text end

new text begin (5) the total cost of the project;
new text end

new text begin (6) sources of funding or in-kind contributions for the project that will supplement any
grant award; and
new text end

new text begin (7) any additional information requested by the commissioner.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Challenge process. new text end

new text begin (a) Within three days of the close of the grant application
process, the office shall publish on its website the proposed geographic broadband service
area and the proposed broadband service speeds for each application submitted.
new text end

new text begin (b) An existing broadband service provider in or proximate to the proposed project area
may, within ten days of publication of the information under paragraph (a), submit in writing
to the commissioner a challenge to an application. A challenge must contain information
demonstrating that:
new text end

new text begin (1) the provider currently provides or has begun construction to provide broadband
service to the proposed project area at speeds equal to or greater than the state speed goal
contained in Minnesota Statutes, section 237.012, subdivision 1; or
new text end

new text begin (2) the provider commits to complete construction of broadband infrastructure and
provide broadband service in the proposed project area at speeds equal to or greater than
the state speed goal contained in Minnesota Statutes, section 237.012, subdivision 1, no
later than 18 months after the date grant awards are made under this section for the grant
cycle under which the application was submitted.
new text end

new text begin (c) The commissioner must evaluate the information submitted in a provider's challenge
under this section, and is prohibited from funding a project if the commissioner determines
that the provider's commitment to provide broadband service that meets the requirements
of paragraph (b) in the proposed project area is credible.
new text end

new text begin (d) If the commissioner denies funding to an applicant as a result of a broadband service
provider's challenge made under this section, and the broadband service provider does not
fulfill the provider's commitment to provide broadband service in the project area, the
commissioner is prohibited from denying funding to an applicant as a result of a challenge
by the same broadband service provider for the following two grant cycles, unless the
commissioner determines that the broadband service provider's failure to fulfill the provider's
commitment was the result of factors beyond the broadband service provider's control.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 8. new text end

new text begin Awarding grants. new text end

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

new text begin (b) In evaluating applications and awarding grants, the commissioner may give priority
to applications that:
new text end

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

new text begin (2) facilitate the use of telemedicine and electronic health records;
new text end

new text begin (3) 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; and
new text end

new text begin (4) provide access to broadband service to a greater number of unserved or underserved
households and businesses.
new text end

new text begin (c) The commissioner shall endeavor to award grants under this section to qualified
applicants in all regions of the state.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 9. new text end

new text begin Grant amount. new text end

new text begin (a) The commissioner must establish an amount for grants
awarded under this section based on:
new text end

new text begin (1) the number of applicants;
new text end

new text begin (2) the total amount of money requested in the applications; and
new text end

new text begin (3) the availability of federal money for a similar purpose.
new text end

new text begin (b) No grants awarded under this section may fund more than 75 percent of the total
cost of a project.
new text end

new text begin (c) Grants awarded to a single project must not exceed $500,000.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 10. new text end

new text begin Reissue grant application. new text end

new text begin If the total grant requests based on the number of
applications received under subdivision 4 are less than the amount of money available for
this program, the commissioner may accept additional applications beyond the initial
deadline, and award grants that may exceed the amount established in subdivision 9,
paragraph (c).
new text end

new text begin Subd. 11. new text end

new text begin Grant agreement. new text end

new text begin Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, sections 16B.98,
subdivisions 5 and 7, and 16C.05, subdivision 2, and any other provision of law, the
commissioner may allow an applicant that was awarded a grant under this section to begin
construction of a project and may encumber the amount of the grant before the commissioner
has finalized a grant agreement.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end

Sec. 4. new text beginAPPROPRIATION.
new text end

new text begin (a) $15,000,000 in fiscal year 2021 is appropriated from the coronavirus relief federal
fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development for transfer to the
commissioner of education for emergency distance learning wireless or wire-line broadband
access for student grants for school districts and charter schools under section 1. Up to five
percent of the appropriation under this paragraph may be used to reimburse reasonable costs
incurred by the Department of Education to administer section 1. This is a onetime
appropriation. Any funds that remain unexpended on April 15, 2021, are canceled. By May
15, 2021, the commissioner of education must report to the legislature regarding the districts
and charter schools that received grants under section 1, the per-pupil amount for each grant,
and the number of students that were provided Internet access. The report must also identify
the costs to administer the grant program and the amount canceled. Money appropriated
under this paragraph must not be spent until the commissioner of management and budget
determines that the appropriation in this paragraph is an eligible use of the coronavirus relief
federal fund.
new text end

new text begin (b) $2,000,000 in fiscal year 2021 is appropriated from the coronavirus relief federal
fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development to award grants for
the purchase of telemedicine equipment under section 2. Up to five percent of the
appropriation under this paragraph may be used to reimburse the reasonable costs incurred
by the Department of Employment and Economic Development to administer section 2.
This is a onetime appropriation. Any funds that remain unexpended on April 15, 2021, are
canceled. By May 15, 2021, the commissioner of employment and economic development
must report to the legislature regarding the number of applications received under section
2, the number of grants awarded, the maximum and minimum grant amounts awarded, and
the mean and median grant amounts awarded. The report must also identify the costs to
administer the grant program and the amount canceled. Money appropriated under this
paragraph must not be spent until the commissioner of management and budget determines
that the appropriation in this paragraph is an eligible use of the coronavirus relief federal
fund.
new text end

new text begin (c) $10,000,000 in fiscal year 2021 is appropriated from the coronavirus relief federal
fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development for supplemental
broadband development grants under section 3. This appropriation is available until April
15, 2021. The appropriation must be used only to provide broadband service in unserved
areas, except that broadband infrastructure, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section
116J.394, for that purpose may be placed in underserved areas. By May 15, 2021, the
commissioner of employment and economic development must report to the legislature
regarding the number of applications received under section 3, the number of grants awarded,
the grant amounts, and the costs to administer the grant program. This is a onetime
appropriation. Money appropriated under this paragraph must not be spent until the
commissioner of management and budget determines that the appropriation in this paragraph
is an eligible use of the coronavirus relief federal fund.
new text end

new text begin (d) If the commissioner of management and budget determines the appropriation in
paragraph (c) is not an allowable use of the funds under federal law, the appropriation in
paragraph (c) is canceled. If the commissioner of management and budget determines at
any date before April 15, 2021, that an amount less than the amount appropriated in paragraph
(c) can be spent by April 15, 2021, the commissioner may cancel the balance of the
appropriation that has been estimated will not be spent. Funds canceled under this paragraph
remain available for other uses permitted under federal law.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end