- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad’s broadband expansion bill, which has undergone some edits since it was introduced earlier this session, may have even more changes as it advances in the Iowa House, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

Rep. Peter Cownie, R-West Des Moines, told members of a House Ways and Means subcommittee that he expects to offer an amendment to the bill, which aims to expand high-speed Internet in Iowa. Cownie said the amendment would better define broadband, though he didn’t offer more specifics.

“We need to make sure that we are in tune with what is going on in the world in terms of technology,” he said, referencing updated guidelines by the Federal Communications Commission on appropriate speeds for high-speed Internet.

Cownie said he would also consider concerns raised by Rep. Thomas Sands, R-Wapello, that the bill’s current language may not clearly differentiate what areas have a greater need for broadband expansion.

The bill is expected to advance to the full committee for review. Legislation introduced by Sen. Steven Sodders, D-State Center, is being considered in the Senate.

Branstad’s bill was also introduced in the Senate but it was not taken up in committee. Instead lawmakers focused on Sodders’ bill, which is similar but has more specific language on expanding broadband through a fiber-optic network.

Branstad has publicly made broadband expansion a priority this session. He did the same thing last year, though that legislation failed to garner enough support after lawmakers complained about cell tower placement rules and expansive tax relief incentives. The bill this session removes both.

Instead, the House bill creates a 10-year property tax relief program for service providers to help them with costs. That’s a jump from three years when the bill was first introduced this session.

A $5 million grant program funded through state dollars was removed during committee earlier this session, though its existence remains in the bill. Cownie said the program will be funded through federal dollars and private money from service providers. It’s unclear what role the state would play in facilitating that process, and additional information about how the grant program would work has not been released.

Representatives for service providers have remained supportive of both bills.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide