Thirty Republicans in the Iowa Senate have voted to deny future state and local tax breaks to big tech companies found to have illegally stifled speech on social media platforms.
However, Senate President Jake Chapman of Adel, a Republican who is the plan’s lead sponsor, seemed to admit the bill has an uncertain future.
“If they choose to follow a path of tyrannical propagandists…we will still be here,” Chapman said during debate this afternoon. “We will continue to fight them, we will continue to introduce legislation until they respect the dignity of thought and opinion.”
Democrats in the Senate voted against the bill, predicting lawsuits would be filed to block it and warning the mere mention of the plan harms the state’s image.
“This bill is about making a political point,” Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville said. “It is anti-jobs, it is anti-business, it is anti-growth and it is anti-investment.”
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, said the damage has already been done.
“Way to go,” Dotzler said. “You just gave Iowa another black eye.”
Senator Zach Whiting of Spirit Lake, a Republican who backs the bill, said it’s time for congress to bust up the Big Tech companies because they’re monopolies.
“We need to stand up to the bullies in Silicon Tech. They feel they are untouchable,” Whiting said. “That’s the autocratic, plutocratic nature.”
The bill now goes to the Iowa House, where lawmakers are drafting a slightly different response. A House committee has approved pulling state and local tax breaks for social media companies that block or delete comments from Iowans who are elected officials or political candidates. If the content is restored, the tax breaks would be as well.