The Iowa House and Senate have reached a compromise on Governor Branstad’s proposal to encourage more broadband in the state, one of his top priorities for two years in a row.
It’s one of several pieces that are falling into place as lawmakers strive toward adjournment.
A House-passed bill offered property tax abatements for communications companies that expand broadband into underserved areas. But Senate Democrats questioned whether more Iowans would actually be served.
Des Moines Democrat Janet Peterson says the compromise will put a sunset on the tax breaks.
“We’re giving industry a carrot,” Peterson says. “We want them to get going on it not wait around forever.”
To ensure competition the compromise requires that more than one communications company can claim the tax breaks in an underserved area.
Peterson says companies will have to prove they’ve made the expansions they promise.
“Otherwise we’ll be able to revoke the tax abatement,” Peterson says.
The bill creates a grant program for companies who add infrastructure as the governor proposed, but it doesn’t fund the grants.