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IRWA Legislative Newsletter
January 28, 2016
Issue #1

UNDER THE GOLDEN DOME

Emily Piper, Contract Specialist

Emily Piper

Contract Lobbyist
515-202-7772

Email Emily

Week three of this year’s legislative session is in the books. The word of the week is
subcommittee action. Legislators, in anticipation of the first legislative deadline, are holding subcommittees at a rapid pace. The first funnel deadline is February 19. By this time, a bill must have passed a committee in one chamber to remain alive. This deadline does not apply to budget and tax bills. Next week is a short work week. Both chambers will not begin substantive work until 1:00 on Tuesday to allow members to participate in their party's caucus on Monday night.



STATE SALES TAX ON WATER

The water utility groups and the League of Cities are promoting legislation that would
phase out the sales tax on water consumption over six years.

Representative Zach Nunn is working on a bill and generating support from leadership in
the House to get this accomplished. The bill would be nearly identical to HSB 229,
introduced last year, but would be expanded to include non-metered water sales and
business water sales.

On the Senate side, two bills, identical to HSB 229, have been introduced. Senator
Randy Feenstra introduced SF 2054 and Senators David Johnson and Randy Feenstra
also introduced SF 2067. IRWA is registered in support of both bills.



WATER DAY ON THE HILL

March 21 is the joint water utility day on the Hill. Representatives of the IRWA, the Iowa Association of Water Agencies, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, the League of Cities and some of our government partners will showcase their efforts on economic development and make the case for eliminating the sales tax on water. Plan to join us on March 21 beginning around 11:30 am to meet with legislators.



Bills of Interest

HF 2038: This bill requires ISU to develop a database of watershed quality measurements. IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill which is in the House Environmental Protection Committee.

HF 2060: This bill requires landlords to provide tenants with anticipated utility costs. IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill which is in the House Commerce Committee. HSB 542/SSB 3040: These bills increase the time period in which a public body must accept bids for projects that exceed $100,000. The bill increases that timeframe from four days to twenty days. IRWA is registered as neutral on the bills which are in the House and Senate State Government Committees.

SF 2027: This bill makes legislators representing each chamber ex officio members of the Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC). The WRCC is comprised of state and federal agencies and the regents’ institutions and has as its purpose the coordination of water quality efforts in Iowa. IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill which is in the Senate Natural Resources & Environment Committee.



 

Water Utility Day 2016Water Groups to Pursue Elimination of Sales Tax on Water
(11/9/2015 - Updated, 10/30/2015 - Added)

 

 

IRWA, in conjunction with the other water utility groups, is making the elimination of the sales tax on water a top priority for the 2016 legislative session.   IRWA leaders recognize that this tax break would benefit their customers, many of whom are on fixed income and/or struggle to pay their bills.   Water is the only essential service on which Iowans still pay a sales tax.   We do not pay a sales tax on food, medicine, gas or electric costs.   Over 90 percent of Iowans receive their water from a public water supply.   Removal of this tax will impact nearly every Iowan and most Iowa businesses.   Iowa is an outlier when it comes to taxing water.   We are one of only twelve states that taxes water from the tap. 

 

 

Consider this.   Bottled water, sold in retail stores, is considered a food product and exempt from the sales tax.  Stop in any Casey’s store and buy a bottle of water and there is no sales tax.   Turn on the tap at home for that same drink of water and you will be subject to the 6 percent sales tax.  

The Legislature should act to correct this inequity and phase out the tax on water.   IRWA is proposing that this tax be phased out over a six-year period to minimize the impact to the state budget.   Based on 2014 data, the state collects from residences and businesses approximately $26.6 million in sales tax on water.  Of this amount, approximately $8 million is returned to local communities with a local option sales tax and to school districts for school infrastructure projects.   This amounts to a reduction of approximately $3 million a year for the next six years out of an annual $7 billion state budget.  

Last year, legislation was introduced in the House to accomplish this goal.   It was approved by a subcommittee but did not see further action in the House Ways and Means Committee.   Legislators raised concerns about the potential impact on the state budget at a time when revenue growth was projected to slow.   This action was a good building block to educate legislators about the impact that this tax has on all Iowans.   IRWA is again working with key legislators to introduce the legislation this year in hopes of moving it to the floor for debate.

What can you do?   Help IRWA build grassroots support for eliminating the sales tax on residential and business sales of water by taking these steps. 

  1. Contact your legislators and ask them to support the elimination of this sales tax.  
  2. Let your customers know through your newsletter, billing statements or website about the goal of eliminating this tax to save them money.
  3. Send a letter to the editor to your local paper supporting the elimination of sales tax.

 

1. List of rural water systems to legislators
2. One-pager on proposal
3. Link to legislative contacts: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators
4. Sample email/points to use with legislators
5. Sample letter to the editor
6. Sample article for customer newsletter/website - Coming Soon!

 

 


 

Click on photo below to view a larger image. Slideshow presentation is also available.

Iowa's delegation meeting with Senator Charles Grassley
Iowa's delegation meeting with Senator Tom Harkin
Iowa's delegation meeting with Senator
Charles Grassley

Iowa's delegation meeting with Senator
Tom Harkin


Iowa's delegation meeting with Congressman Steve King
Iowa's delegation meeting with Congressman Tom Latham
Iowa's delegation meeting with Congressman
Steve King


Iowa's delegation meeting with Congressman
Tom Latham


Iowa's delegation meeting with Congressman Dave Loebsack
 
Iowa's delegation meeting with Congressman
Dave Loebsack