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IRWA Legislative Newsletter
April 24, 2017, Issue #10

(Added 4/24/2017)

Emily Piper, Contract Specialist

Emily Piper

Contract Lobbyist
515-202-7772

Email Emily

Under the Golden Dome

The 2017 legislative session concluded early Saturday morning after a marathon all night session.   At the end of the day, the issues of medical cannabis oil and water quality threatened to hold up the conclusion of the legislative session.  Legislators successfully reached agreement on the first but could not find common ground on the two water quality proposals.   This session marked the first time in twenty years that all three branches of government were controlled by Republicans.   Republicans pushed through major policy initiatives over the strong objections of Democrats, creating a somewhat acrimonious environment.   In addition, Republicans faced a worsening budget situation and were forced to make reductions in the current year’s budget.   The budget picture for FY 18 was no better and many programs saw reductions to stay within the statutory spending requirements.

FY 18 AG/DNR Budget, RIIF Budget

The FY 18 budget bill for the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture   The bill makes no changes to the funding levels for public water supply programs, the conservation reserve program and the conservation reserve enhancement program.   In addition, the bill does the following:

The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure budget bill provides status quo funding for several ongoing programs:

The bill transfers the $225,000 that previously supported the activities of the Leopold Center at Iowa State University to the Nutrient Reduction Center at ISU. In addition, the bill advances funds to support the connection of communities to the Lewis and Clark regional water system.  These funds are to be repaid once federal funds are secured.  The bill provides $2.25 million in FY 18 and $4.75 million in FY 19.

Water Quality Debated, Failed to Advance

The House and Senate advanced competing water quality bills but failed to reach consensus in the final hours of the legislative session.   Both bills would dedicate the sales tax on water to water quality improvements but differed on key provisions to distribute those funds.  In addition, both bills took a different approach to secure additional funding for water quality efforts. 

The House approved a strike and replace amendment to SF 512, the Senate version of the bill, to incorporate their bill’s (HF 612) provisions.   The Senate refused to concur in that amendment and negotiations commenced.  A complete comparison of the two bills is attached as part of this newsletter.

Bills That Survived

SF 431:  This bill provides for uniform siting procedures for small wireless facilities, mirroring the procedures for large cell towers.  The bill, at IRWA’s request, was amended to restore that clear exemption from the provisions of this law.  IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill.  The bill passed both chambers and is before the governor for his signature. 

HF 307:  This bill allows a rural water system to seek renewal or extension of an existing water or sewer franchise agreement through action of the city council.  Currently, a franchise for water or sewer can only be extended by a special election.   This change facilitates a more efficient and cost-effective mechanism to secure the franchise extensions to comply with USDA requirements for loan and grant financing.  IRWA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by the governor on April 12.  The bill’s provisions are effective upon enactment.

HF 314:  This bill defines what constitutes a utility vehicle and utility services to clarify the protections already afforded in law those vehicles when stopped for utility service work.   Under current Iowa law, drivers must either change lanes or slow down when approaching a utility vehicle with lights flashing.   IRWA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by the governor on April 20.

HF 601:  This bill clarifies that public records requests of governmental bodies do not apply to cybersecurity information.   IRWA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill passed both chambers and is before the governor for his signature.

Bills that Failed to Reach Final Consideration

SF 14:  This bill raises the sales tax and dedicates 3/8 cents to the natural resource trust fund.   IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill.  The bill was not considered by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

SF 167: This bill raises the sales tax and dedicates 3/8 cents to the natural resource trust fund.   IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill.  The bill was not considered by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

SF 158:  This bill would allow governmental bodies to publish required public notices on the internet rather than in a newspaper.   The bill passed a subcommittee but was not considered by the Senate Local Government Committee.  IRWA is registered in support of the bill.

SF 512:  This bill is the governor’s water quality proposal and mirrors legislation that passed the House last year.   It dedicates the sales tax on water to a grant program for water and wastewater infrastructure and water quality efforts and funds a new agriculture cost-share program with money from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.  IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill.  The bill passed Senate and was amended by the House with their version of water quality.

SSB 1092HSB 62:  These bills make major changes to the mechanics’ lien (private construction) and construction lien (public construction) laws.  It places more liability for nonpayment by the contractor of the contractor’s subs on the building owner.   It also includes a “loser pays” provision if an action is filed by an unpaid subcontractor.  IRWA is registered opposed to the bill.

HF 82:  This bill prohibits a state agency from setting any fee that is not expressly set in statute.  IRWA is registered neutral on the bill.   

HF 100:  This bill prohibits the state from complying with any federal EPA rule.   IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill.

HF 288:  This bill phases out the sales tax on water over a six-year period of time.   IRWA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill is in the House Ways and Means Committee.

HF484/SF 456:  These bills dismantle the Des Moines Waterworks board and reconstitutes it into a regional water authority with representation by its customers.   IRWA worked to ensure that the asset investment, purchase contracts and ongoing management of the regional system include representation by the two rural water districts who purchase water from the current Des Moines Waterworks.  The bill was amended in both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to do the following:

IRWA is registered as neutral on both bills.   The Senate and House Agriculture Committees approved their bills.

HF 603:  This bill puts additional protections in place for certain types of projects that have the authority for condemnation.   The bill was amended in committee to remove language that would have allowed a landowner to prohibit condemnation if another, feasible alternative existed without consideration for cost.  IRWA was registered opposed to the original bill but is now neutral.  The bill passed the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HF 612:  This is the House version of water quality improvements and is significantly different from the Senate version.  It continues to divert the sales tax on water but divides that money between a grant program and funding for an ongoing revolving loan fund at the Iowa Finance Authority.  IRWA is registered as neutral on the bill.  The bill’s provisions were amended into SF 512 and passed the House.

HSB 91:  This bill restricts what would be considered “essential public purpose” for the issuance of bond debt.  It included water and wastewater infrastructure as no longer an essential public service.   This would require a 60% vote on all bonds issued for such infrastructure projects.  IRWA is registered opposed to the bill.  The bill was considered by a House Local Government subcommittee but did not advance.

Comparison of House and Senate Water Quality Proposals PDF

 


 

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