Students will learn Internet fate today

Tracy Deutmeyer

Off-campus students at Iowa’s three regents’ universities will know today if they will have to fork over more money for Internet access.

Gov. Branstad is expected to sign or veto Senate File 519 today. The so-called “Internet Bill” would prohibit remote dial-up access to the Internet provided by the Iowa Communications Network. The bill will not affect on-campus students’ access to the Internet, unless they access the Internet through a private provider.

“The governor is going to take action on Thursday,” said Eric Woolson, the governor’s press secretary.

State Senator Johnie Hammond, D-Ames, said she thinks the governor will veto the bill. “I have been wrong about the governor before,” she said. “But he got a lot more pressure to veto it.”

The Senate first passed the bill on March 25, 35-13. The House amended the bill and passed it on April 10, 60-36.

If Branstad vetoes the bill, it is “in line with what he wanted the ICN to be about,” Hammond said.

Carol Bradley, Iowa State’s director of governmental relations, said the House amended the bill with the “provision that the regents could petition the ICN board for a waiver if technology was not available to separate the on-campus traffic from the off-campus traffic,” she said.

Bradley said the regents continue to oppose the bill. She said the technology probably is available to separate the on-campus and off-campus traffic, but the cost could be substantial.

The regents voted unanimously to oppose the bill at their April 16 meeting.

Even after the version was amended, Bradley said “the bill still created two classes of students.” She said on-campus students will have easy access, but “for off-campus students we have a problem.”

Off-campus students who want access to the Internet would likely have to start going through private providers in January of next year if the governor signs the bill.