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Net Neutrality bill introduced in the Iowa House

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa House file 2287 introduced last Thursday would bring internet neutrality to Iowa.

Introduced by Rep. Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids, the bill—known as the Iowa Internet Neutrality Act—prohibits communications service providers from impairing or degrading lawful internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services or the use of nonharmful devices.

It also prohibits communications service providers from engaging in paid prioritization and interfering with or disadvantaging the ability of an end user to select, access or use broadband service.

The Iowa Internet Neutrality Act has until Friday—the first funnel deadline—to come out of the Commerce committee in the House.

Bennett told Clay & Milk Monday she wasn’t confident the bill would get out of the House Commerce committee—this session—but said that after the Federal decision in December, it was simply important to bring the concept of net neutrality to other legislators attention.

“This session might be a good time to plug the involvement of millennials and Gen X people in the tech and startup communities with state and local government,” Bennett said. “There’s a certain population of us who understand what can happen to the internet when it’s not a free and open internet.”

Bennett says with so many people relying on the internet, “The idea of fast lanes or pay to play is really concerning.”

The Iowa Internet Neutrality Act requires communications service providers make informational materials available that explain the provider’s network management practices, performance and commercial terms of its broadband service. It comes two months after the FCC voted to repeal the net neutrality rules that were put in place in 2015.

Net Neutrality
Illustration by Nathan T Wright

The open internet rules (Which are now known as net neutrality rules) provided a principle that Internet providers should make all content available at the same speed. The rules barred ISP’s from blocking, slowing or providing preferential treatment to specific content.

Earlier this year, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined 20 other states in an effort to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality regulations.

“You can’t discriminate against those using the internet, you can’t discriminate against those that are providing content on the internet,” Miller told reporters.

The Des Moines Register reported Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds appeared to disagree with Miller’s action.

“The internet grew and thrived before net neutrality was put in place in 2015, and the governor believes that it will continue to grow and thrive after the FCC’s decision to eliminate the rule,” Reynolds spokeswoman Brenna Smith said in January. “Greater government control of an industry isn’t usually a recipe for innovation.”

Net Neutrality bill introduced in the Iowa House | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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