Senator Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing) was recently named one of the 13 “Tech-Savviest” legislators in the nation. The list identifies state legislators who have shown a keen interest in and willingness to tackle technology policy and legislation. The recognition highlights Sen. Schmit’s focus on broadband expansion that included a series of well-attended town hall meetings throughout rural Minnesota and led to introduction of significant legislation in 2014.
“Although it’s an honor to be recognized for our work, the attention speaks to the power of the issue – namely, the need for improved broadband access in rural Minnesota,” Sen. Schmit stated. “I cannot think of a smarter, more important investment for our state to make than in expanded Internet connectivity for students, families, and businesses alike. It’s nice to see our efforts and, more importantly, this issue, receive the attention it deserves.”
Focus on broadband infrastructure during the current legislative session also led to the magazine naming Minnesota one of five states to watch in the “community broadband fight.” Sen. Schmit’s proposed “border-to-border broadband” matching grant fund would invest $100 million in broadband projects throughout the state; a $25 million down payment to the fund is expected to be made during the 2014 legislation session.
As for his 2014 broadband agenda, Sen. Schmit added: “Thanks in no small part to the direct involvement of the Speaker and House leadership, I remain optimistic the 2014 legislative session will produce a ‘Border-to-Border Broadband Fund’ that will spur investment in broadband connectivity throughout rural Minnesota.”