Where to put cell phone towers in Iowa towns will be on the agenda when state lawmakers reconvene next week.
Leaders are promising to pass a bill this year to expand broadband in the state, which failed to win approval last year. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says cities and communications companies couldn’t agree on rules for siting towers.
“Sometimes its hard to get cities to approve locations for these cell phone towers,” Gronstal says. “So we're going to try to get those two sides to the table.”
Gronstal says many of the issues in last year’s bill have already been addressed by Congress so this year’s legislation will be simpler:
“It’s a paired down set of issues,” Gronstal says. “One of those is about siting. Cities had legitimate concerns about a cell phone company picking any place they want to put a cell tower."
Another unresolved issue is what incentives to offer companies who expand high-speed internet to underserved areas. A bill based on Governor Branstad’s recommendations went down to defeat in the Republican House last year. GOP lawmakers questioned the incentives the bill awarded to telephone companies and other providers.
Governor Branstad promises an updated proposal, which he is calling “Connect Every Acre.”