Looking at the neighbors: Connect Every Acre in Iowa

It’s interesting to get a look at what other states are doing in terms of broadband. According to Government Technology, this is what’s happening in Iowa…

Iowa is one step closer to expanded broadband connectivity in the state. House File 641, Gov. Terry Branstad’s “Connect Every Acre” initiative, passed the Iowa House of Representatives by a 90-5 vote on April 21.

The measure, which uses a litany of income and property tax breaks to incentivize the build-out of broadband networks in the state’s underserved areas, now must be ratified in the Senate.

This is the second time around for Branstad’s proposal. It was initially defeated in the House during the 2014 legislative session over concerns that the tax breaks were too high and skepticism that providers would take on projects in Iowa’s rural areas. The legislation was re-introduced on Jan. 13, during Branstad’s “Condition of the State” address.

Here are some details from the House bill

Cownie explained that HF 641 would establish a grant program to coordinate and facilitate broadband access in targeted areas of the state. No state dollars would be involved, but providers who put in 90 percent of the cost of building out their broadband infrastructure could qualify for federal money to cover the remaining 10 percent.

The bill also includes a 10-year property tax relief program to help offset costs for qualifying service providers who expand broadband in unserved or underserved areas of Iowa.

Removed from the original bill was a provision to provide $5 million in state money for broadband expansion and another making the incentives retroactive.

Without digging deep into the details it’s difficult for me to see how the proposed incentives compare with Minnesota’s investment in terms of proposed dollar amount. But it’s worth noting that Iowa seems to have an increased interest in broadband this year – compared to the Minnesota Legislature, which while making strides in 2014, has back down from the $20 million reserved for broadband grants last year and the $200 million suggested by the Minnesota Broadband Task Force to work toward the $900 million and $3 billion estimated cost of developing border to border broadband in Minnesota.

This entry was posted in Funding, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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