Iowa House rejects broadband access bill

When bills come to the floor of the Iowa House or Senate, the outcome of the vote is typically a foregone conclusion. Leaders rarely call up bills that don’t have the votes to pass. But in “the most surprising vote of the day, if not this year’s session,” Iowa House members on Friday rejected House File 2472, a bill designed to expand broadband access in small-town and rural Iowa. The initiative was among Governor Terry Branstad’s legislative priorities this year. While the goal is uncontroversial, especially in communities where people are stuck with dialup internet, lawmakers disagreed on how to accomplish the task.

The House Journal for April 25 includes details from the floor debate, including roll calls on two Democratic amendments that failed to pass on party-line votes. One of them was a “strike” amendment replacing the entire content of House File 2472 with stronger incentives favored by House Democrats. After the routine business of rejecting minority party amendments, a vote was called on final passage. But only 42 Republicans voted yes, joined by just two Democrats. I’ve posted a list of yes and no votes after the jump. House Minority Leader Mark Smith said Democrats opposed the bill because it “does not go far enough in expanding broadband access to more homes and small businesses.” The Republicans who voted no may have been put off by the size of the tax breaks or the lack of accountability. State Representative Guy Vander Linden told Radio Iowa, “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.’ That, to me, sounds like a blank check that I’m not willing to sign up to.”

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer has already filed a motion to reconsider the vote on this bill, so leaders may believe they can find the votes they need through friendly persuasion or arm-twisting. (She was one of the “no” votes, presumably to preserve her ability to file the bill again after realizing it would not pass.) Two Republicans (Clel Baudler and Ron Jorgensen) were absent from Friday’s vote. Assuming they support the broadband bill and Upmeyer changes her vote, House leaders would need to persuade four more Republicans or Democrats.

The 44 Iowa House members who voted yes on final passage of House File 2472:

Republicans:

Dwayne Alons

Rob Bacon

Chip Baltimore

Mark Brandenburg

Josh Byrnes

Mark Costello

Peter Cownie

Dave Deyoe

Cecil Dolecheck

Jack Drake

Dean Fisher

Greg Forristall

Joel Fry

Tedd Gassman

Pat Grassley

Stan Gustafson

Chris Hagenow

Mary Ann Hanusa

Dave Heaton

Lee Hein

Megan Hess

Jake Highfill

Dan Huseman

Bobby Kaufmann

Jarad Klein

Kevin Koester

John Landon

Mark Lofgren

Linda Miller

Brian Moore

Steve Olson

Kraig Paulsen

Henry Rayhons

Walt Rogers

Tom Sands

Jason Schultz

Jeff Smith

Chuck Soderberg

Quentin Stanerson

Rob Taylor

Gary Worthan

Matt Windschitl

Democrats:

Scott Ourth

Todd Prichard

The 51 Iowa House members who voted against the bill:

Republicans:

Greg Heartsill

Guy Vander Linden

Dave Maxwell

Dawn Pettengill

Sandy Salmon

Tom Shaw

Larry Sheets

Linda Upmeyer

Ralph Watts

Democrats:

Ako Abdul-Samad

Marti Anderson

Bruce Bearinger

Deborah Berry

Dennis Cohoon

Nancy Dunkel

John Forbes

Mary Gaskill

Chris Hall

Curt Hanson

Lisa Heddens

Bruce Hunter

Chuck Isenhart

Dave Jacoby

Anesa Kajtazovic

Jerry Kearns

Dan Kelley

Bob Kressig

Vicki Lensing

Dan Lundby

Jim Lykam

Mary Mascher

Brian Meyer

Dan Muhlbauer

Pat Murphy

Jo Oldson

Rick Olson

Tyler Olson

Joe Riding

Patti Ruff

Kirsten Running-Marquardt

Mark Smith

Art Staed

Sharon Steckman

Sally Stutsman

Todd Taylor

Phyllis Thede

Roger Thomas

Beth Wessel-Kroeschell

Cindy Winckler

Mary Wolfe

Frank Wood

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