ST. PAUL, MN – Senator Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) is co-authoring legislation to expand broadband access in Greater Minnesota. Senator Westrom, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance, held a committee hearing on January 16 to discuss rural broadband expansion. Recently, his committee was given jurisdiction over the funding of rural broadband in Minnesota.
"Ranging from health care, education, to small businesses, broadband access is essential to our way of life in the twenty-first century," said Senator Westrom. "I consistently hear from rural residents and small business owners that a lack of broadband limits their ability to flourish in Greater Minnesota, much like a lack of electricity did 75 years ago. We need to continue to address that problem and I look forward to spearheading that effort this upcoming session."
Senator Westrom has long been a proponent of rural broadband expansion, authoring multiple bills that funded projects to expand broadband access in Greater Minnesota. This session, he joins a bipartisan group of senators authoring legislation to invest $70 million in broadband expansion over the next two years.
During the hearing Westrom's committee held, experts from the broadband industry testified that the state program helps leverage private and federal broadband investments, multiplying their benefits many times over. Additionally, they stated the state program “works like a scalpel,” filling-in broadband coverage gaps where private or federal funds do not provide enough resources.
"Broadband expansion benefits everyone, from students doing homework to businesses in Greater Minnesota," added Senator Westrom. "By working across the aisle, we can improve our state, economy, and way of life."