State Senator Matt Schmit has been recognized for the third year in a row as a “Legislator of Distinction” by the League of Minnesota Cities for his commitment to furthering city-friendly legislation and his work promoting the expansion of broadband Internet connectivity to areas of rural Minnesota that currently lack access to such essential services. Schmit is one of just three Senators to receive the award in both 2015 and 2016, and one of only two Senators to receive the award three years in a row.
“All Minnesotans should be able to connect and compete in a 21st century digital economy, and this recognition highlights the need for better connectivity,” Sen. Schmit said. “We all have a stake in making sure that Minnesota is a leader in broadband access and utilization.”
Working closely with a growing coalition of advocates and supporters, Sen. Schmit introduced and championed legislation calling for a “Border-to-Border Broadband” matching grant fund to promote investment in new broadband infrastructure across the state. The first two years of grants distributed through the fund will have connected over 10,000 homes, 1,500 businesses, and 100 community anchor institutions — such as libraries, schools, and hospitals — with high-speed Internet connectivity. In 2016, the legislature appropriated an additional $35 million in matching state grant funding for the effort, which targets investment to Minnesota’s hardest-to-serve areas.
Legislators of Distinction are approved annually by the League’s Board of Directors to recognize that in order to successfully serve commonly shared constituents, state and city officials must work together to meet the unique needs of rural, suburban, and urban residents all across Minnesota.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors have also acknowledged the value of Sen. Schmit’s broadband legislation through similar recognition in the past.