We are four weeks into the 2024 Iowa legislative session. Bill introductions and committee and subcommittee meetings continue to keep lawmakers busy.
In our last Field Notes, we introduced you to Senate Study Bill (SSB) 3074, which would create the Grocer Reinvestment Fund and Program. Headway has been made since then, with the filing of House File (HF) 2176 as the companion bill. Subcommittee meetings were held on each side of the rotunda, and both groups recommended passage of their respective bill with amendments, such as store eligibility based on the number of employees at each location or the number of stores owned.
Our efforts in the next two weeks will include drafting the requested changes, with support from the subcommittee legislators, and passing at least one version through its respective full committee before Feb. 16, which is considered the “first funnel” where bills must pass through their full committees to remain viable (with some exceptions).
As always, we’re monitoring other bills related to statewide siting standards for renewable energy as well as those addressing rural food systems and water quality.
If you have any questions, or would like to share the rural issues important to you, please do not hesitate to reach out at email@example.com or 402.687.2100 ext. 1034.
Thank you for making your rural voice heard.
Senate Study Bill (SSB) 3074 — Support: Introduced by the Senate Commerce Committee, this Center priority bill would create the Grocer Reinvestment Fund and Program, appropriate money from the general fund, and give the Iowa Economic Development Authority direction to create a grant and loan program for new or current grocery stores located in areas that are both underserved and low or moderate income. The legislation would prioritize cost-saving efforts and business efficiency measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of locally owned grocery stores. The subcommittee met on Jan. 24 and recommended passage of the bill with amendments.
House File (HF) 2176 — Support: Serving as the companion bill to SSB 3074, this bill was introduced by Rep. Brian Lohse in the House, and it has a few differences. As written, it would initiate only a grant program for grocers owning 10 or fewer stores. It also provides limits for the award amounts to be granted. Additionally, this bill includes modifications to Iowa Code under the Local Food and Farm Program. It changes the purpose and goals of the program to include and increase the sale of local food in grocery stores. The subcommittee met on Jan. 31 and recommended passage of the bill with amendments.
House Study Bill (HSB) 607 — Monitor: Introduced in the House Agriculture Committee by Rep. Mike Sexton, this bill relates to open feedlot operations and provides validity of nutrient management plans (NMP) subject to Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approval until further action is taken. It specifies the original NMP, the next complete NMP, or an update to the NMP is valid under the following conditions:
- The DNR has not notified the owner of the decision on the NMP.
- The DNR has notified the owner of the decision but there is an error.
- The DNR notified the owner and the owner objects to the DNR’s decision; the NMP will remain valid until the owner has exhausted all remedies and judicial review.
The bill was introduced on Jan. 24 and assigned a subcommittee the same day. No further action has been taken.
Senate File (SF) 550 — Support: This bill was introduced last session by Sen. Dan Dawson, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is still viable to be discussed and passed this session. Notably, the legislation would fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, or IWILL. The Center supports this legislation specifically as it relates to Watershed Management Authorities and the Local Conservation Partnership Program detailed in sections 135 and 136 of the bill. The legislation was assigned to a subcommittee, but a meeting has not been scheduled.
House File 2279 — Monitor: Introduced by Reps. Hans Wilz, Brian Lohse, and Sean Bagniewski previously as HSB 555, this bill offers several amendments related to public utility laws, including the elimination of a reporting requirement for the Small Wind Innovation Zone program. Most notably, however, the bill would add nuclear and electric storage units to the definition of alternate energy production facilities. This adjustment would allow public utilities to include energy storage in advanced ratemaking cases, an important step in adequately planning for future public energy projects. The bill passed out of the House Commerce Committee on Jan. 30 and was placed on the House calendar on Feb. 1.
HSB 560/SF 2209 (SSB 3052) — Support: Proposed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, this legislation relates to programs and regulations administered by the department. The Center supports two key components of the bill. The Choose Iowa Promotional Program provides consumers an opportunity to purchase food originating in the state, which is designated with the Choose Iowa logo. This legislation also creates the Value-Added Grant Fund and Program, which supports projects and services that add value to agricultural commodities produced in Iowa. The House held a subcommittee meeting on Jan. 22 and recommended passage. The Senate held a subcommittee meeting on Jan. 25 and recommended an amendment and passage. The Senate Agriculture Committee then met on Feb. 1 and approved the committee bill. It is now renumbered as SF 2209.
HF 2257 (HSB 559)/SF 2207 (SSB 3031) — Support: Proposed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, this legislation proposes an amendment to the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act. The amendment would allow poultry processors to engage in custom operations if they maintain their state-licensed inspections. All packages processed on a custom basis must be marked “not for sale” and kept identified until the owner picks up the order. The initial companion study bills passed out of their respective committees and are now renumbered. They were placed on the calendar on Feb. 1 and await further discussion and approval.