Update: The Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN) notes that it looks like SSB 1184 is dead, having been shelved in committee yesterday. They say the "bill was briefly discussed by a subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee on February 16th, but postponed 'indefinitely.'"
Less than a year after an attempt to hamstring municipal broadband in Iowa, local opponents are at it again. If you’ve been around the block, Senate Study Bill 1184 will look remarkably similar to SSB 3009 from last January 2020, and that’s because it’s nearly identical.
Like its last incarnation, SSB 1184 threatens the viability of any new municipal broadband effort by placing draconian financial barriers in the way, and, if passed, handcuffs existing networks as well as those under construction. Though there are no public fingerprints on the bill, the word around the capitol is that Mediacom is behind it. Among its provisions are those that would:
- Prohibit cities and towns from issuing loans from the general or reserve fund or an existing electric utility to a broadband division at an interest rate lower than the prevailing market rate set by private financing institutions.
- Prohibit government entities from forgiving debt related to the construction or operation of a telecommunications system.
- Set a maximum interest rate at which a municipal broadband utility could borrow to finance a new network, cutting off funding avenues
- Disallow existing municipal networks from responding to the market in setting rates.
- Prevent municipal network from bundling multiple city services in single transactions.
Individually, any of these conditions would represent a significant win for a provider looking to restrict competition with cities interested in building Internet infrastructure; collectively, they would be a gigantic step backwards in a state that ranks...Read more