House passes bill for rural internet, parks, disparities – but DFL says more needed

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The Minnesota House passed a major omnibus bill Wednesday that addresses funding for everything from broadband internet to the avian flu.

Three omnibus bills dealing with agriculture, the environment and jobs, were rolled into one larger omnibus bill earlier this month, and on Wednesday the Republican-controlled House passed the bill, 72-54, after hours of debate, reports note.

The bill (read its full text here) includes new spending to expand broadband Internet in rural areas; funding to prepare and fight diseases in agriculture; money for the state's parks and trails; more money for promoting tourism; and programs to address racial economic disparities.

The Session Daily broke down the bill – read that story here for all the details.

But House Democrats criticized the bill for its spending priorities, including not allocating enough money for rural broadband and funding for environmental priorities, MPR News reports. And DFLers said it doesn't use some of the state's $900 billion budget surplus to fund these initiatives.

Republicans though, who voted down several amendments suggested by DFL legislators, say the bill helps support programs that benefit more people throughout more of Minnesota, the Star Tribune says.

The measure now goes to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where spending priorities are much different, reports note. The Star Tribune says the differences between the bills will be figured out during a conference committee over the next few weeks before the end of the session in late May.

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