Today, the Minnesota Senate passed an important agriculture, broadband and housing bill to help Minnesota farmers and families. The legislation aims to increase funding for broadband, address the pressing concerns of our agricultural sector and improve access to affordable housing.
“We are committed to supporting farmers on the ground by making investments that lead to innovation and economic development in agriculture,” said Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne). “Over the past few years, we have seen some of the difficulties our farmers have faced and we are committed to helping them. In addition, this bill provides essential investments in broadband to continue the expansion of reliable Internet access so that families and workers can move forward.
Support Minnesota Agriculture
The act aims to help our farmers fight the ongoing avian flu epidemic by allocating $500,000 to the Farm Emergency Account for avian flu testing supplies. Additionally, $350,000 is for the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for testing equipment for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza and other animal diseases. .
Finally, the agriculture section of the bill builds on past programs successfully championed by Senate Republicans to support livestock processing. This includes investing in training programs in meat cutting and butchery; money to start, modernize or expand meat, poultry, dairy and egg processing facilities; and subsidies for the training of secondary school students and employees of small processors.
Investing in Connecting Minnesotans with Broadband
The Senate bill invests heavily in improving Minnesota’s broadband connectivity. The legislation directs a historic level of up to $210 million in federal funds to improve Minnesota’s broadband, which is in addition to the $70 million the Legislature passed last session. Westrom’s bill aims to ensure that Minnesota is not left behind in receiving federal dollars for broadband.
Investments in the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program have become increasingly important in connecting all Minnesotans to the modern economy. Approximately 240,000 Minnesota households lack reliable Internet access, including 25% of rural Minnesota households.
Promoting pathways to home ownership
The bill includes a comprehensive housing plan to ensure Minnesotans have stable housing and promotes and encourages pathways to homeownership.
The bill includes $35 million for the Homeownership Investment Grant Program which provides funding to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in Minnesota to increase affordable homeownership in our state; $10 million for the Workforce Homeownership Program, which aims to increase the supply of labor and affordable owner-occupied housing; $10 million to create a revolving loan fund for the purchase of manufactured housing stock to be converted into condominiums; $5 million for Build Wealth Minnesota’s 9,000-stock fund to provide affordable first mortgages or equivalent financing opportunities to households struggling to access mortgages in underserved communities of color; and $5 million for grants for the installation of sprinkler systems in non-profit apartment buildings.
Notable policy elements of the bill include: preventing the governor from issuing an executive order prohibiting or delaying evictions for more than 30 days, unless an extension of the order is approved by a majority vote of each house of the legislature; prohibiting local governments from adopting rent control policies on private residential properties, retroactive to November 1, 2021; and requiring the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to report on the impacts of rent control on affordable housing. Until the report, which is due Aug. 1, 2023, is delivered to the legislature, the MHFA must not use any funds from any source for multi-family housing projects in cities that have passed a control ordinance. rents.