Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that changes the rules for awarding state grants to businesses that promise to expand broadband service and a spokesman for the governor says $5 million will be awarded over the next year. The state will also use $85 million in federal pandemic response money for broadband projects. That block of money is to be distributed based on federal guidelines.

Representative Ray “Bubba” Sorenson of Greenfield says up to 35 percent of the project costs can be covered by the state grants.

“The Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Fund will award grants based on a competitive basis that is weighed towards providing faster speeds and serving the un-served and underserved areas,” Sorenson says.

Senator Rich Taylor says service at his home just outside of Mount Pleasant is very limited.

“If we really want to keep our kids out in our communities, we’ve got to provide better internet service for them,” Taylor says.

The new law Reynolds signed this week directs state officials to draw up new, more accurate maps showing broadband speeds so it’s clear where internet access is slow or non-existent.