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Effort to expand broadband access moves forward

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 10:39 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES (AP) — Legislation that would provide incentives for improving broadband Internet technology access in Iowa moved forward in the state House Monday.

The House Commerce Committee approved the bill, which will next go to the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee for review.

Under the proposal, companies that invest in broadband infrastructure could receive a property tax break. The legislation is a top priority for Gov. Terry Branstad during this legislative session. Branstad has said the state must improve broadband access, particularly in rural areas, arguing this could spur economic development through new business creation.

Rep. Peter Cownie, R- West Des Moines, said the state needs to improve Internet access.

“Iowa has changed and the world has changed with the adoption of the Internet. Not everyone in Iowa has good connectivity,” said Cownie.

Cownie said he expects more revisions to the House bill. He said lawmakers will look at whether any other tax incentives should be offered.

Rep. Scott Ourth, D-Ackworth, said the state needs to provide more incentives to make this work. He noted he lives in a rural area and can’t get broadband Internet.

“When I read the words unserved or underserved Iowan, I thought that meant people like me,” Ourth said.

A broadband bill under review in the state Senate includes income tax breaks and a loan fund for businesses making broadband investments.

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