Senate bill would sell or lease piece of state infrastructure

For Sale By OwnerA bill offered last week in the Iowa Senate would direct the state to sell off or lease out a key piece of its infrastructure as a means to save money on the cost of its operation.

Senate File 119 was offered by state Sens. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale), Bill Anderson (R-Pierson), Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa), and Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny), and has been referred to the Senate Committee on State Government. The bill seeks to reduce the state’s expense with regard to the operation of the Iowa Communications Network by selling it or leasing it to a private company.

To date, more than $230 million has been spent on the network, which is one of the most technologically advanced broadband services in the U.S. The ICN has operated without General Assembly supplementary funding since Fiscal Year 2005.

The ICN is available to schools, hospitals, municipal and county governments, courts, and law enforcement and emergency services across the state. Every Iowan is within 15 miles of an ICN access point. The bill would allow current ICN users to continue to use the statewide fiber-optic network, but at a cost lower than with the current state administration.

If approved, SF 119 would direct the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission to request proposals for either the sale or lease of the ICN to be completed during Fiscal Year 2016 (beginning July 1, 2015).