Monday, the House of Representatives passed three bipartisan bills backed by Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03): the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act, the Mapping After Public Scrutiny (MAPS) Act, and the Broadband Data Act.
With the passage of these bills, the House has now passed 66 bills that have been written or co-sponsored by Rep. Axne.
In order to remove red-tape and modernize the process, the GREAT Act would establish uniform reporting requirements and create a single public website to publish grant data. By standardizing the process, the bill will make it easier and cheaper for Iowans to receive grants and increase transparency and accountability to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in federal grant spending.
“I’ve heard too many stories from Iowans struggling to navigate federal grant applications,” said Rep. Axne. “Often times, grants are just awarded to big organizations who can afford a professional grants writer, and I’ve talked to folks running a small business who have a great idea, but don’t know how or where to apply for grants.”
H.R. 150, the GREAT Act, was one of Axne’s first bills to pass the House in January 2019. The Senate held the bill until October, when it finally passed unanimously. Now, the House has approved the Senate’s changes and will send the bill onto the White House for signature.
“The GREAT Act was one of the first bills I supported because Iowans need equal access to grant funding, just like any other state,” said Rep. Axne. “That’s also why I’ve launched my Iowa Flood Funding Tracker, to show Iowans where disaster relief funds are being spent in Iowa. Iowans need equal access to grant funding, just like any other state.”
H.R. 4227, the MAPS Act, and H.R. 4229, the Broadband DATA Act, both work to improve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mapping process for rural broadband and wireless service. The Broadband DATA Act, introduced by Rep. Loebsack (IA-02), would require the FCC to develop a new mapping process, with full, verifiable information about available speeds at a detailed level. That, combined with a process for residents and local officials to challenge the maps, will provide federal support to communities without service that have been improperly cut off.
The MAPS Act authorizes the FCC to penalize corporations if they knowingly submit inaccurate broadband coverage maps.
“I’ve seen broadband and wireless maps that claim all of Iowa is covered – and that’s just not true. As I toured each of my 16 counties every month this year, I know there are huge pockets where there’s zero coverage” said Rep. Axne. “In order to fix our broadband access problems, we need to understand the problem. Accurate coverage maps are the right place to start and I’m proud to see these bill get overwhelming support.”
Rep. Axne has been a champion on both rural broadband and on government reform in her first year in office.
In November, the House passed an Axne-sponsored bill to reform federal disaster recovery programs in order to improve government services while saving taxpayer dollars. The bill ensures funds appropriated by Congress are delivered to disaster victims in a timely manner and protects taxpayer dollars by increasing safeguards against misuse of program resources.
In May, Rep. Axne was appointed to sit on the newly launched House Rural Broadband Task Force to provide coordination and leadership to end the rural-digital divide.