One of my primary focuses every year in the legislature is supporting legislation that will grow Iowa’s economy, give Iowans more opportunities to become entrepreneurs, create jobs, and share in the benefits from the new products and services. Far too often, government regulation is a roadblock to new and exciting initiatives. While regulation is sometimes necessary, it is also important to review antiquated laws and set up the legal framework for new technologies.
One example of this is cell siting. In 2015, we made it easier for wireless companies to install cell towers by passing the Iowa Cell Siting Act, which set up siting rules to get rid of the patchwork of rules. This was an important step in expanding access to broadband and cellular coverage around the state.
This year, we passed the next step to improve Iowa’s cell siting law, Senate File 431, which passed the House 93-0 and was signed by the Governor on May 9th. This bill sets up the framework and rules for small wireless facilities. Why is this good for Iowans? Small wireless facilities help to increase network capacity, allowing for more devices to get faster, reliable service. In addition, the small wireless facilities are a needed element in moving to the latest advances in mobile internet speed as companies are now looking to move from 4G LTE to 5G.
Over the last several years, Iowa has seen tremendous growth across the state in the number of small distilleries. We have already seen many small breweries and wineries open across the state, and Iowans are increasingly enjoying these locally-crafted products. Distilleries, however, have been at a disadvantage as they faced much tougher restrictions when selling their products for off-premises consumption. This bill, along with other changes, expanded that ability to bring distilleries more in-line with breweries and wineries. This bill passed the House 93-1 and was signed by the Governor on May 9th.
We also passed the Iowa First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Act to assist Iowans in purchasing their first home. This bill allows individuals to contribute up to $2,000 individually or $4,000 if married to a savings account dedicated to purchasing a home or making a down-payment on a mortgage. Contributions to the account are deductible from income taxes. This bill passed the House 87-11 and was signed by the Governor on May 9th. Accounts under this program will be eligible to be opened beginning January 1, 2018.
Economic growth and prosperity should always be a top priority. If you have any ideas or concerns about this, or any other issue, please let me know. Have a great summer!