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2014 Legislative Update (5/2/2014)

Emily Piper, Contract Specialist

Emily Piper

Contract Lobbyist
515-202-7772

Email Emily

Under the Golden Dome
The 2014 session ended (sort of) 9 days after the statutory adjournment deadline and much later than had been anticipated when it convened in January.   The early agreement on the joint budget targets gave hope that the stage was set for a quick resolution to the budget.  However, efforts to agree on priorities within the budget targets as well as how much and where to spend the “one-time” money slowed that process down.  The House and Senate endured a marathon session that began Wednesday morning and concluded Thursday morning.  The Senate is technically still in session but all regular work has been completed and will adjourn sine die on Friday.

Below is a list of legislation impacting rural water members.

HF 2458:  FY 15 Ag & DNR Appropriations
It was approved by both chambers and is on the governor’s desk for his signature.  The governor has 30 days to take action on the bill.  Items in a budget bill can be subject to the line item veto.   The original bill from the House included language on eminent domain that would have made it more difficult to develop surface drinking water supplies.  The conference committee report did not include this language despite an attempt by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann to force the issue during the conference committee.  Items of interest to IRWA members include:

HF 2411:  City Reserve Funds, Eminent Domain
This bill was originally written to allow cities to use their reserve funds to back bonds.  However, it was amended in the House Local Government Committee to include eminent domain language opposed by IRWA.  This language is identical to bills that have previously passed the House and would impose stricter limits and higher costs on the construction of surface drinking water supplies.  The bill passed the House Local Government Committee but saw no further action.  IRWA is registered opposed to the bill.

HF 2408:  One Call Requirements
This bill makes changes to Iowa’s One Call statute.  The bill requires the use of positive electronic response by the utilities upon completion of a locate request.  In addition, it clarifies that a contractor may proceed prior to the end of the 48-hour timeframe if the locate is completed earlier.  The governor signed the bill into law.  IRWA is registered as undecided on the bill.

HF 2345:  Watershed Authorities
This bill makes watershed authorities (entities created by 28E agreements) eligible for WIRB grants.  The bill passed the House Environmental Protection Committee and was referred to the House Agriculture Committee but saw no further action.  IRWA is registered in support of the bill.

HF 2329: Broadband Access
This bill started as the House’s version of the task force report on improving broadband access in rural areas.  The bill includes substantial language on the siting of cell phone towers.  The intent of the language is to create a uniform process statewide for the approval process.  The practical effect of the language is to limit ability of utilities, such as rural water systems, to limit their placement.   The bill was defeated on the House floor and saw no further action.  IRWA was registered as opposed to the bill.

HF 2192:  Two Mile Limit Requirements
This bill clarifies that a rural water association must notify a city of its intent to serve water within two miles of a city’s incorporated limits.  It applies only to those areas in which rural water is not currently being served.  Areas within two miles for which there is an existing service agreement or territory are not affected by the bill’s provisions.  It also shortens the timeframes by which a city must respond and water must be served by either entity.  The governor signed this bill into law.  IRWA is registered in support of the bill.

HF 2183:  Private Water Company Lien Provisions
These bills address a specific situation in which the water service is provided by a private water company but the city maintains provision of sewer service.  It creates a process to resolve issues of unpaid bills for sewer service.  The governor signed this bill into law.  IRWA is registered as undecided on the bill.

SF 2363:  Bond Repayment & One-Time Appropriations
This bill allocates funds from the state’s surplus to accelerate bond repayment and provide one-time funding to certain programs.  It was approved by both chambers and is on the governor’s desk for his signature.  The governor has 30 days to take action on the bill.  Items in a budget bill can be subject to the line item veto.   Items of interest to IRWA members include:

SF 2349:  RIIF Appropriations
This bill allocates funding from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.  It was approved by both chambers and is on the governor’s desk for his signature.  The governor has 30 days to take action on the bill.  Items in a budget bill can be subject to the line item veto.  Items of interest to IRWA members include:

SF 2264:  Construction Managers
This bill sets out a procedure by which any public body and anyone using public funds must consider when using a construction manager.  The bill passed the Senate Local Government Committee but saw no further action.  IRWA is registered opposed to the bill.

SSB 3209: Sales Tax on Water
This bill removes the 5-cent sales tax on residential sales of water over a five-year period of time.  It maintains the 1-cent tax for school infrastructure and does not impact the imposition of local option sales taxes.  The bill did not advance.  IRWA is registered in support of the bill.

SSB 3202:  Water Infrastructure Funding
This bill would provide $23 million in funding for water and wastewater infrastructure through the following initiatives:

  1. Establishing a $3 million grant fund for the 150 facilities that immediately must comply with the nutrient reduction strategy.  Municipalities and industrial facilities will be eligible for up to $15,000 cost reimbursement grants to cover the cost of the required two years monitoring.  Under the strategy, these facilities must monitor the water flowing into the plant from rivers and the intake/outtake from the facility.  The state intends to use this monitoring data to develop baseline data for further implementation of the nutrient reduction strategy.
  2. Establishing a $20 million grant fund for water and wastewater infrastructure.  The funds would be disbursed over a five-year time period and would be directed toward upgrades of aging infrastructure, drought recovery/planning and compliance with the nutrient reduction strategy.  Grants will be administered by the Iowa Finance Authority and limited to no more than $500,000.
  3. Creating a cost-share program for facilities required to comply with the nutrient reduction strategy.  Modeled after the cost-share program for agriculture, this new program would provide up to 50% cost-share toward the cost of conducting the feasibility assessment and completing the engineering plan.  Total cost for the initial 150 facilities is estimated to be $1.8 million.  The framework for this would be a permanent part of the Iowa code and future funding would be sought to assist all dischargers.

Emily Piper

 


 

DC Water Rally - Feb 11-13th

Iowa had eight representatives in attendance at the NRWA Water Rally — Randy Pleima, Mahaska Rural Water System, Jim LaPlant, Central Iowa Water Association, Randy Van Dyke, Robert and Audrey Peton, Cole Heikens, Iowa Lakes Regional Water, Rodney Holben, City of Pisgah and Greg Huff, IRWA. Jim Auen with Lewis and Clark Rural Water System also accompanied the Iowa delegation to some of the meetings.

As luck would have it, the Iowa group was able to visit with five out of the six members of Iowa’s Congressional Delegation - see photos below. IRWA’s delegation focused on the successes of the federal technical assistance programs in Iowa and advocated for continued funding for these programs for FY13 and FY14. Funding commitments were also sought for the USDA WEP Loan and Grant Program and the Water and Wastewater State Revolving Fund loan programs.

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