Region 9 Legislative Panel Recap


Thank you to Region Nine Development Commission for the invitation to provide a legislative update to your full committee meeting last week. On three major topics for Greatest Minnesota, I had differing opinions than most on the panel:

RURAL BROADBAND:  I support a solution to provide access to rural broadband.  The State’s goal is 25 meg download and 10 meg upload.  The justification is to ensure children have access to do homework and families are able to conduct tele-medicine and have access to information on the web.  The great news is that anyone with a clear view of the sky has access to this speed via Satellite internet – today.  I worked at Hughes Aeronautics in the mid 1990’s which launched Satellites for DirecTV and HughesNet – two of their subsidiaries.  The technology for Satellite internet is the future of broadband, with hundreds of low-orbiting Satellites scheduled to be launched in the next decade.  Wireless is the future, and we should not be investing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars trenching fiber to rural farm sites.  What about data caps?  Satellite’s current 30 gig a month covers everything people need except streaming Netflix – which is not something government should be in the business of subsidizing.  I support bringing fiber to small towns, but not miles of fiber at a cost of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to individual rural farm sites like mine.

CHILD CARE:  After a child care town hall three weeks ago where I met with 50 local providers, I have started a ‘MN Childcare Reform’ group to work with parents and providers to write their own rules.  Government has over-regulated this industry to the point of hundreds of providers leaving the industry.  Government’s easiest solution is to throw money at a problem.  When in-home child care providers are leaving the industry, the government shouldn’t be funding city-run child-care centers.  We should help these providers by reducing the regulations that drove them from the industry.  If parents and providers agree on a set of rules – the government doesn’t need to get involved.  Join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MNChildcare/ .  We now have over 850 participants and will be having working sessions this summer.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AID (LGA):  LGA is essential for small communities which do not have the tax base to repair or replace important infrastructure or support essential public services.   LGA has a complex funding formula which determines how much towns receive based on population, age of the houses, unemployment, and the tax base.  Of the $350 million in annual LGA funds, Minneapolis and St Paul receive $80 million.  These cities use this as a slush fund for pet projects and this is not what LGA should be used for.  I co-authored a bill to shift money from large cities to small towns by including local sales tax revenue in the formula as money in the city’s tax base.  This would bring over $600,000 more to our district each year and can be used to repair important infrastructure like waste water treatment facilities and fund police and fire departments.

Read the article by Mankato Free Press

Watch the Facebook Live video below:

Region Nine is hosting a legislative panel forum this morning in North Mankato.

Posted by Region Nine Development Commission on Wednesday, June 20, 2018