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Broadband bills begin making their way through Iowa Legislature; votes scheduled on child care measures


A bill that addresses Gov. Kim Reynolds’ $450 million plan to expand high-speed internet statewide by 2025 was heard by the Senate Commerce Subcommittee this week. Senate Study Bill 1089 would create a broadband grant fund to help underserved areas by installing broadband infrastructure that would provide minimum upload and download speeds of 100 megabits per second. The bill passed out of the Commerce Subcommittee and now goes before the full committee. It is one of three introduced this session addressing the broadband goal the governor outlined in her Condition of the State address on Jan. 12. The others are House Study Bill 133, which is a companion bill to Senate Study Bill 1089, and House Study Bill 53, which encourages local governments to expand their broadband infrastructure and develop and promote the availability of telecommuting.

Other takeaways from the Legislature this week:

  • The governor’s housing omnibus bill was introduced this week. Senate Study Bill 1142 would create a housing tax credit program, modify the distribution of real estate transfer taxes, and modify the workforce housing tax incentives, including a downtown loan guarantee program and an eviction prevention program.
  • Votes are scheduled for Thursday in the Iowa House on bills addressing the child care cliff effect and child care reimbursement rates.
  • A bill has been introduced that would allow certain commercial driver’s licenses to be renewed electronically without taking an exam.

After the Senate passed Senate File 159 last week, which addresses school choice by diverting tax dollars to create a “student first scholarship program,” the measure has been moved to the house but no action has been taken. The bill would allow parents of children in 34 underperforming schools to use the money to move their children to another school or district, including private schools. The schools are listed on the Iowa Department of Education’s website under a category for “comprehensive support” under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

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