A proposal to boost funding to build out broadband internet service in Minnesota for virtual learning and telemedicine failed to pass the divided Legislature Sunday night as lawmakers closed out the 2020 legislative session.
Leaders in the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-Farmer-Labor-controlled House of Representatives had put up separate proposals to boost funding for broadband access that could help families access high-speed internet at home. But the measures failed during the final flurry of legislative action.
Legislative leaders and the governor on Monday said they plan to hold a special session next month to take up unresolved business and the issue could come up at that time. Lawmakers as part of an education omnibus bill also directed the Minnesota Department of Education to use part of the $1.87 billion appropriated to the state from the federal CARES Act to roll out technological advances that could help schools meet distance learning requirements.
“These are unprecedented circumstances with unprecedented challenges,” said Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester. “This bill gives schools badly needed flexibility to use the significant resources we passed last year meet their own, new, unique needs.”
The Walz administration determines how to spend state and federal COVID-19 response funding with guidance from state lawmakers.