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Perry, Dennert, Weis Join Effort to Stop Noem’s Broadband Handouts

All three House members from Aberdeen don’t want Governor Noem helping rural South Dakota get better broadband this year:

Some legislators want the state attorney general to stop grants Governor Kristi Noem is awarding to upgrade broadband service in parts of rural South Dakota.

…Other House members whose names are on the letter had voted for the bill.

They are Thomas Brunner of Nisland, Drew Dennert of Aberdeen, Chris Johnson of Rapid City, Isaac Latterell of Tea, Tina Mulally of Rapid City, Carl Perry of Aberdeen, Tom Pischke of Dell Rapids and Kaleb Weis of Aberdeen [Bob Mercer, “Republican Legislators Challenge Republican Governor over South Dakota Rural Broadband Grants,” KELO-TV, 2019.06.03].

Reps. Dennert, Perry, and Weis heard my webcams-on-legislators plan and decided to kill broadband expansion?
Reps. Dennert, Perry, and Weis heard my bodycams-on-legislators plan and decided to kill broadband expansion?

Governor Kristi Noem announced $5 million in broadband grants to eight companies last week:

Mitchell Telecom was among those companies, receiving $441,470 from the state program focused on funding broadband projects in unserved and underserved areas.

Legislators approved this first round of funding in March. Governor Kristi Noem’s office announced Tuesday that all projects for which funding was awarded are “shovel ready” and will be finished by the end of the year. They’re expected to impact 4,800 people and 100 businesses.

Others awarded grant money included Alliance Communications in Garretson, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority in Eagle Butte, Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative in Clear Lake, RC Technologies in New Effington and Midco Communications and Vast Broadband, both based in Sioux Falls.

More than half the total funding was awarded to Highmore-based Venture Communications [“Mitchell Telecom Among Companies to Receive Broadband Funding,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2019.05.28].

Perhaps to Rep. Perry’s credit, he got money from COTEL, the South Dakota Telecommunications Association’s PAC, and he’s still trying to keep eight lucky telecoms from getting the big government subsidies that he voted for in March.

I might even cut Carl some slack for being for these government handouts before he was against them: the $5 million for broadband was part of Section 24 of a 26-section bill. Rep. Perry may excuse this seeming turnaround by contending that at the time, he didn’t find the broadband handouts sufficiently objectionable to derail all of the other necessary revisions to the FY2019 general appropriations bill, especially not as the House met in the wee hours of March 13 to pass a budget and bug out of Pierre before the great March blizzard hit, but that now that a summer avenue for stopping that one misappropriation presents itself, he’s willing to support that effort.

But the main point here is that all three Aberdeen Representatives are standing in the way of an infrastructure expansion that is good for agriculture and several other South Dakota industries. I’ll let them handle explaining why their objections to a Republican governor’s handouts take priority over the economic and cultural development goals of Kristi Noem’s program.

5 Comments

  1. Old Spec.5 2019-06-07

    Dang Midco involved!! Another 3% increase for both of us Cory. But it makes them look good and still make a profit.

  2. Debbo 2019-06-07

    What is this about? What’s the behind-the-scenes deal? It sounds like Noem is actually doing a good thing. Did any of those 3 complain at the time?

    Seems awfully fishy to me, but it’s the SDGOP, so of course it’s got scales and gills.

  3. cibvet 2019-06-08

    Like the other internet providers, they will pick off the places where they can receive the most profit with the absolute least investment.

  4. grudznick 2019-06-08

    Messrs. Perry and Dennert, the youngest, seem like swell enough fellows when those who are the insaner ones are not whispering in their ears and guiding their every step. Those fellows are but puppets. You need to take on Mr. Novstrup, the man behind the scenes who runs the shows.

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