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Iowa Communications Alliance leader responds to governor’s veto of federal funding bill

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(The Center Square) – Although Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed more than 50 bills into law Thursday, she vetoed one that passed both legislative chambers unanimously.

The bill, SF388, relates to conflicts between federal funding and the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

In her letter to Secretary of State Paul Pate, Reynolds explained her decision. She noted the office, which has leveraged federal funds to expand internet access to unserved or underserved areas of rural Iowa, currently has and should retain the flexibility and authority to set state standards that exceed those of the federal government. The bill would require the office to use the federal government’s standards and limit the office’s role to those the federal government delegates.

“I recognize that Senate File 388 passed both chambers unanimously with an understanding that the bill does not significantly change the status quo – for now,” she said. “But looking forward, the State of Iowa should not be tethered to a federal standard when I am confident our state can chart its own course.”

Sen. Kevin Alons, R-Salix, said on the floor of the Senate that the bill clarifies state code and streamlines funding. Rep. Ray Sorensen, R-Greenfield, said in his chamber that the bill is procedural.

“While our organization had originally registered in favor of the bill, thinking it was necessary or helpful to make sure that our state would be able to maximize its ability to receive federal funds, further investigation showed that the legislation might have some unintended consequences and in fact was not necessary. Once we learned of these concerns, we switched to undecided,” Iowa Communications Alliance CEO Dave Duncan told The Center Square in an emailed statement Friday. “We understand the Governor’s reasoning for vetoing the bill, and we now believe that current Iowa law is sufficient to maximize the use of federal broadband grant funding without this legislation.”

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