10/14/2020 3:53:00 PM Special session bill is make-or-break for North Branch internet plan funding with CARES Act dollars
Monday this week in the fifth special session of the 2020 Minnesota Legislature, a bill was introduced to give North Branch several extra weeks to spend its CARES Act monies. The deadline for cities to have their appropriations spent is November 15. North Branch asked Senator Koran and Representative Neu to get special legislation approved to extend this to December 30. (Rep. Johnson who also has a section of North Branch in his House district was not listed on the legislature’s website as a co-author.)
City officials explain the need for the extended deadline is due to about $400,000 generally identified by city policy on spending covid-related aid will go to help pay for wireless Internet service improvements. There’s no contract in place but an extension could facilitate that. Mayor Jim Swenson stated the city doesn’t want to lose this opportunity to spend the CARES Act funds and, “...sure would hate to give back (funding) to the federal government.” Swenson added he’s aware this wireless system is a “temporary fix” until the companies can get fiber optic into the ground--but the need is great now.
Anne Neu’s House File 40 was read once on October 12 and went to the Government Operations Committee. Mark Koran’s Senate File 6 was approved for all three of its regular readings in one day, being officially designated as a matter of urgency and approved 63-4. (Wiklund, Rest, Dziedzic and Carlson opposed.)