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At the end of each year, the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) announces a list of priorities for state lawmakers to consider in the following year’s legislative session. The TAI’s top priority for 2022? Not surprisingly, it’s cybersecurity. “Cybersecurity threats continue every day across the nation and here in Iowa,” said Mollie Ross, TAI’s director of operations. “We’re hearing from legislators that there’s a desire to help protect Iowans and Iowa businesses any way they can.” Every year, Ms. Ross said, TAI convenes a public policy committee composed of a cross-section of TAI members that spends months developing a list of recommended legislative initiatives. “That committee decided we need to be a resource and help our legislators not only understand what the cybersecurity threats are for businesses and for individuals, but what can be done about them,” Ms. Ross said. Specifically, the TAI’s committee recommends “smart” legislation to help address cybersecurity threats – measures that can be effective yet flexible enough to accommodate the ever-changing landscape of cybersecurity issues. “We know that sometimes, smart legislation is no legislation,” she said. “When it comes to technology, something built today is often outdated tomorrow. So the last thing we would want is a piece of legislation that is beneficial for a short period of time, (but) in the long run is hamstringing our legislators or tying the hands of people who are trying to help.” While TAI hasn’t yet drafted specific measures for legislative consideration, Ms. Ross said general recommendations are rising to the fore. For example, she said, TAI would support efforts to provide funding for education on state cybersecurity resources – whether directed to public schools, health care facilities or business ventures. “Oftentimes, it’s a matter of budget,” she said. “So if there’s an opportunity to provide access to funding for support staff, organizations, training, even direct access to the tools themselves, that’s of interest.” TAI also supports incentives for companies to implement standardized cybersecurity protocols. “(We’re hoping) there’s a way to incentivize businesses to utilize standards to further protect Iowans’ private data,” she said. “We’re looking at different ways to incentivize higher, stricter security tools.” Lawmakers are proving to be increasingly receptive to efforts to strengthen and broaden cybersecurity initiatives and will monitor incentives in other states that prove to be successful, Ms. Ross said. “We’ve had conversations already with legislators who have a desire to consider cybersecurity legislation,” she said. “They’re seeing the headlines just like we all are, and they want to do their best to help protect Iowans. There’s a desire for legislation to do that. We don’t yet know what that looks like.” TAI has also drafted other legislative initiatives and priorities for 2022. Legislative initiatives: Advance policies that attract human and financial capital to Iowa. Elevate Iowa (rural and urban) as the premier state for the technology workforce. Promote policies that foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. Ensure Iowa’s technology curriculum for K-12 through college is the best in the nation. Lead efforts toward smart cybersecurity and privacy legislation. Legislative priorities: Connectivity – Facilitate high-performance internet connectivity using the best available technologies for all Iowans. Education access – Support programs, such as Future Ready Iowa, that connect Iowans to the training and education required for good-paying jobs and careers to improve people’s lives. IEDA funding – The Iowa Economic Development Authority instills growth and success of Iowa businesses and communities through various forms of funding, including Innovation and Angel Investor tax credits. Emerging technologies – Support the investment, development, implementation, and utilization of emerging technologies in Iowa. TAI will host its Legislative Launch on Feb. 16, 2022, at the AC Hotel by Marriott Des Moines East Village. The Iowa tech community is encouraged to attend and discuss top issues affecting Iowa’s innovation economy with Iowa legislators. Tickets will be available in January 2022. TAI will also host the second season of the Iowa Tech Policy Podcast, a legislative podcast covering technology-focused legislation during the 2022 session at the Iowa Statehouse. The podcast launches in January 2022.