December 22, 2014

GOP-led House fails to pass Branstad’s broadband priority

Guy Vander Linden

Guy Vander Linden

One of Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s priorities for the 2014 Iowa legislative session failed to pass the Republican-led Iowa House this afternoon. Only 42 Republicans in House voted for the bill which supporters say would have boosted broadband access in Iowa. Representative Guy Vander Linden of Oskaloosa was among the nine Republicans who voted no.

“The ‘Connect Iowa’ bill, in my mind, doesn’t connect any Iowan, let alone every Iowan,” Vander Linden said.

Vander Linden faulted the bill for the way it handed out tax breaks to companies.

“We don’t say they need to meet any requirements in terms of our capacity, speed — anything. All we say is: “If you will put broadband infrastructure in place in any unserved or underserved area…we’ll give you all these benefits,” Vander Linden said. “That, to me, sounds like a blank check that I’m not willing to sign up to.”

Two Democrats voted for the bill, but it failed on a 44-51 vote. Governor Branstad immediately blamed House Democrats for the bill’s failure and accused them of turning their backs on rural Iowans. House Democratic Leader Mark Smith said Republicans hold enough seats in the House to pass any bill on their own.

“House Democrats firmly believe the bill does not go far enough to expanding broadband access to more homes and small businesses,” Smith said.