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2022 IRWA Legislative Report

Emily Piper, Contract Specialist

Emily Piper

Contract Lobbyist

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The Iowa legislative session was marked by discord over major policy issues sought by the governor, approved by the Senate but failing to cross the finish line in the House. Despite all three parties under Republican control, the session missed its deadline for adjournment of April 19 by another month and a half.

Procedurally, things were basically back to normal. Both chambers made use of technology to make subcommittee and committee meetings accessible to the public. However, the House required in-person attendance if you wanted to speak at a subcommittee.

IRWA legislative consultant Emily Piper along with the legislative committee and board of directors tracked bills that had the potential to impact members of our association. The legislative committee conducted bi-weekly conference calls during the legislative session to determine the organization’s position on legislation and to discuss strategy for implementing IRWA’s legislative priorities. The day-to-day presence at the Capitol by IRWA is necessary to propose legislation that would benefit rural water systems and small communities and to prevent the passage of adverse legislation.

IRWA’s legislative efforts were guided by the members of the legislative committee representing both rural water systems and small communities. This committee is responsible for surfacing issues and making recommendations to the board of directors on major policy positions for IRWA. In 2021, those members were:

John Glenn, Rathbun Regional Water Association, chairman (through legislative session)
Randy Pleima, Mahaska Rural Water, chairman
Chad Coburn, Poweshiek Water Association
Rod Glosser, Rathbun Regional Water Association
Krista Huffman, Wapello Rural Water
Mike Lansing, City of Dyersville
Doug Radke, Cherokee Rural Water
Doug Westerman, Osceola Rural Water

IRWA thanks John Glenn for his years leading the legislative committee. Upon his retirement from Rathbun Regional Water, he turned the committee leadership over to Rod Glosser

IRWA engaged on several bills throughout the legislative session. Below is a brief overview of those bills, including bills that did not survive that impacted our members.

Bills that Survived
SF 2367: This bill includes a number of tax provisions including language from a House-passed bill that allows non-profit utilities to claim the same sales tax exemption that for-profit utilities can claim. These items will now be exempt from the state sales tax:

HF 2560: The budget bill that funds both the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was a status quo budget for programs of interest to IRWA members. Perhaps the largest change is where, but not how much, money is used to fund Iowa’s water quality initiatives. The funding will now come from the Environment First Fund rather than the state’s general fund.

HF 2579: The infrastructure bill funds a variety of state programs, including many environmental programs. For programs of interest to IRWA members, the bill continues the $9.6 million in DNR’s lake restoration program. In addition, it provides the $8.2 million to IDALS for water quality programs from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF).

Bills that Died
SF 2106/HF 2473: eliminates landlord notification to water utilities when a tenant changes
SF 2189/ HF 2296: requires broadband to have equal access to ROWs
SF 2049: cyber security affirmative defense
SF 2206: income tax cuts, funding for natural resources trust fund
SF 2308: utility cost disclosure to potential renters
HF 2302: creates an affirmative defense against a tort claim for businesses and associations who meet certain criteria in their cybersecurity protections.

Through the efforts of our contract lobbyist, Emily Piper, we will continue to keep you apprised of our legislative efforts and call you to action when the issue merits. We will continue to provide a regular legislative newsletter to keep you up to date on these and other issues. If you are not already receiving this newsletter and would like to receive it, please give your email address with your request to receive the newsletter to any IRWA staff member.

Respectfully submitted,

Randy Pleima, chairman