Bill to Expand Iowa Broadband Headed to Governor Reynolds

DES MOINES, Iowa - A bill to expand broadband in Iowa is headed to Governor Kim Reynolds.

It unanimously passed in the Senate Tuesday evening after previously passing the House.

The bill calls for faster upload and download speeds and for service to be extending into hard-to-reach areas.

Reynolds has asked for $450 million over three years to build out Iowa’s broadband.

The bill headed to her desk has no funding, although law makers say they plan provide money in an upcoming bill.

About a third of Iowa's 99 counties have spotty internet coverage, and Reynolds as well as some lawmakers have said Iowa also has the second-lowest broadband speeds in the country. The site rates Iowa as having the 7th lowest broadband speeds in the U.S.

The bill headed to Governor Reynolds requires minimum download speed of 100 megabits per second and a minimum upload speed of 100 megabits per second in areas where those services are not available.

It also provides three tiers of lower speeds so that companies would receive funding to provide broadband in hard-to-reach rural areas.

Also Tuesday:

The Senate also passed a bill calling for free speech training in Iowa schools and public universities.

Wording that would bar certain forms of diversity training was taken out of the bill.

It passed unanimously and now heads to back to the House after the Senate made another amendment to it.

In addition, a bill to speed up some tax breaks and change the way the state pays for mental health services has passed the Senate.

It would require the state to supply money for mental health services, instead of using property taxes.

The Bill would also fast track a 2018 income tax break by doing away with a requirement for the state to first show it had collected more money.

It further downsizes tax exemptions for people who own land with a large number of trees – known as forest reserve property.

The Senate passed the bill on party lines, 30-17, sending it to the House for consideration.

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