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Iowa Rural Water Association
Final Legislative ReportUpdate
May 2, 2019

Emily Piper, Contract Specialist

Emily Piper

Contract Lobbyist
515-202-7772

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Under the Golden Dome

The Iowa Legislature adjourned the 2019 legislative session, a week before the legislators’ per diem ends.   The biggest accomplishment for IRWA was securing passage of language that will allow rural water systems to “self-permit” for minor water and sewer main extensions.  This process would replace the current rule for minor water main extensions and should simplify the process for rural water systems.  DNR must develop rules to implement this language and IRWA will be closely involved in that process.

The budget was essentially a status quo budget and while programs important to IRWA did not receive increases, they also were not subjected to reductions.  

Below are key legislative initiatives followed on behalf of RRWA:

SF 548:  Limits on SRF and water quality protection

This bill prohibits the use of SRF set aside funds for water quality protection if the project will be acquired by a governmental entity.  This prohibition would impact many projects to protect public drinking water supplies.  The bill was amended to clarify that the provision would not apply to public water suppliers, cities or municipalities.  IRWA is registered as undecided on the bill.  The bill passed both chambers and is before the governor for her consideration.

SF 609: Ag/DNR Budget Bill

This bill is the budget bill for the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.   It is largely a status quo bill.   $1.6 million transferred from the now defunct watershed improvement fund for the water quality initiative at IDALS.  This combines with $3 million in existing general fund monies and $2.375 million from the Enviroment First Fund for a total of $6.975 million.  The $1.6 million is a one-time transfer.

HF 487: Cell tower siting and emergency communication equipment

This bill limits the ability of local entities to deny the location of wireless towers for emergency communications.  IRWA is registered as undecided on the bill.  The bill was signed into law on March 25.

HF 537: Public right of way fees

This bill would restrict the factors that a city or county may use when establishing a fee for a public utility’s use of the public right of way.  This appears to be a battle between Mediacom and Century Link but has implications for the rest of the state and other utilities.  IRWA is registered as neutral.  The bill passed both chambers and is before the governor for her consideration.

HF 667:  Delegated Authority for Rural Water

This bill is the DNR technical correction bill which was amended in committee to include langage promoted by IRWA that would allow rural water systems to have delegated authority for permitting of minor water main and sewer extensions.  IRWA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill passed both chambers and is before the governor for her consideration.

HF 765:  Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund

This build appropriates funds from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Account (RIIF).  It includes:

Bills that Died

HSB 145/HF 239: Railroad permit statute and land management companies
HSB 245: condemnation expense recovery
HF 111:  Eliminate state standards for cell tower locations
HF 154/SF 233: Smart Meter Technology
HF 187: Prohibit flouride addition to drinking water
HF 470: alternative practices for lagoons
HF 512: Mitigation Requirements 
HF 542: limits on SRF use for sponsored projects
HF 735: water quality/soil and water conservation districts
HF 752: licensure, certification, registration occupation review
SSB 1158:  Water excise tax on mobile home parks.
SSB 1184: Disposal of city utilities
SF 229: water treatment system sales
SF 301: allows for reduced utility rates for seniors
SF 549: utility disclosure on rentals