Phillips Broadband Plan Passes In House Infrastructure Package As Pandemic Pushes Minnesota Students, Families, Businesses To Do More Online
Phillips hears from city leaders struggling to access broadband, moves plan to connect more communities
Washington, DC, July 2, 2020
Yesterday, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) helped pass H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, aimed at rebuilding America’s infrastructure. The legislation includes an amendment authored by Phillips to help suburban communities access highspeed broadband as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic pushes Minnesota schools, businesses, and consumers to do more online.
In frequent communication with Minnesota mayors and city administrators, Phillips learned that a lack of provider competition and a donut hole in federal broadband grants has left many communities in Minnesota’s Third District unable to access adequate broadband deployment. Smaller suburban cities and towns, such as Chaska, Chanhassen, and Medina, do not qualify for rural broadband grants, leaving local leaders few options to secure highspeed broadband for their residents.
Phillips’s broadband amendment directs the federal government to identify barriers in accessing highspeed broadband in underserved small suburban areas and make recommendations on what can be done to improve connectivity.
“Representation begins with listening, and access to highspeed broadband is almost always a topic of conversation when I’m connecting with local leaders,” said Phillips. “I’m on a mission to make the federal government work better for Minnesota, and it’s clear to me that access to broadband is an area for improvement. Whether it’s a student learning online, a parent ordering essentials for their family, or an employee logging on to a virtual meeting – our communities need better broadband infrastructure to thrive in a socially-distanced, 21st century world.”
The City of Chaska endorsed Phillips’s broadband amendment and the Move Forward Act.
“Expanding fiber infrastructure as part of H.R. 2 increases access across the State and provides access to data sources needed to respond to this and future emergencies,” City of Chaska Administrative Services Director Noel Graczyk said in an endorsing letter. “While the full impact the COVID-19 virus will have on the economy remains uncertain, the proposed major infrastructure plan will certainly create a stimulating effect in the near term. Looking forward, State and local governments and special districts know that preparing for a pandemic requires strengthening the infrastructure network that underpins their communities; therefore, funding and financing infrastructure will remain an issue of paramount importance for many years to come.”