The Iowa House took action last week on two bills that impact agriculture and rural areas of the state.
The first bill helped determine the tax rate for motor fuel, while the second piece of legislation will create more broadband internet capabilities in rural communities. Iowa House District 21 Representative Tom Moore (R-Griswold) praised the Excise Fuel Tax bill saying it is a win for farmers and the ethanol industry.
“This is a huge bill for Iowa’s farmers,” Moore said. “It replaces the existing motor fuel excise tax schedule with a new schedule to determine the tax rate of motor fuel. Tax rates are determined by the market share of ethanol blended gasoline that is E15 or higher. The current schedule is set to sunset at the end of this fiscal year.”
According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, since the first fuel tax differential bill was passed, E10 and higher ethanol blends and B11 and higher biodiesel blends have grown to make up about 90% and 57% of sales in 2019, respectively. The new fuel tax differential modernizes the ethanol differential by applying it only to E15 and higher blends.
The Iowa House also approved the Empower Rural Iowa bill. Moore says the measure will allow the Office of Chief Information Officer to create a more accurate map of broadband under-served areas.
“It creates a tiered match for grant program based on speed, and gives the OCIO added flexibility to spend COVID dollars identified for broadband infrastructure and broadband service,” Moore said. “Approximate dollars available are $15 million of state monies and $50 million in Federal dollars.”
The Iowa Legislature returned to work last Wednesday after the session was suspended on March 16th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moore says the House was working at a rapid pace with 16 pieces of legislation passed last Wednesday and Thursday.