House broadband bill advances

April 9, 2015

On Thursday morning, the House Ways and Means Committee took up House File 576, the broadband bill. This version of the bill contains framework for a grant program but does not include any funding. The grant program allows for projects that fit the scope of the bill to be eligible for up to 10% of the project to be paid for by federal funds from the grant program, should the federal funds become available. It also includes a 10-year property tax abatement, 60-day maximum wait for permit approval and language allowing schools to use revenues from the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) fund for information technology infrastructure.

The committee also passed an amendment with the bill that does four things. First, it clarifies that the funding would come from available federal funds and there is no appropriation in the bill.  Next, it requires the percentage of homes, farms, schools and businesses included in the targeted service area to be included on the grant application. It also requires the broadband provider to provide the number of Iowans reached to the County Assessor. Finally, it does not allow for new fiber incentives for fiber already in the ground within 500 feet. 

The House bill is now ready for floor debate.