Iowa Legislative Update—March 8, 2022

Environment
Farm and Food
Small Towns

We’re in the ninth week of the Iowa Legislature’s 2022 session. Since our last update, the first funnel deadline has passed, trimming the list of legislation eligible to continue in the process. Currently, lawmakers are focused on debating bills. 

Perhaps the most newsworthy development has been the finalization of a tax reform package, passed by the House and Senate on Feb. 24 and signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 1. This legislation did not include funding for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, or IWILL, and by extension Watershed Management Authorities, as we had hoped. Our staff will continue to identify opportunities to support these important entities. 

Two bills that survived the funnel deadline are Senate File 2326 and House File 2395, which would pay out the Iowa Solar Energy Tax Credit residential waitlist. Now is a critical time to show your support for this legislation. Click here to make your voice heard. 

As always, if you have any questions, or would like to share the rural issues that are important to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at kateh@cfra.org or 515-215-1294.

Thank you for making your rural voice heard.

Water quality

House File (HF) 2166 - For: Introduced by State Government Committee Chair, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, this bill designates certain county flood mitigation activities as essential county purposes. Additions include the reconnection of floodplains, and wetland and oxbow lake restoration. This legislation passed the House on Feb. 22 by a vote of 93-2, and has been assigned to the Committee on Local Government in the Senate.

Renewable energy

HF 2395 - For: Introduced by Rep. Michael R. Bergan on Feb. 15, this bill would pay out the Iowa Solar Energy Tax Credit residential waitlist. The tax credit would be available to any homeowner who installed solar during the 2021 calendar year. The deadline for anyone who has not yet submitted a tax credit application has been extended to June 30. This bill was passed by the House Ways and Means committee today, March 8. 

Senate File (SF) 2326 - For: Introduced by Sens. Mike Klimesh, Dawn Driscoll, Craig Johnson, and Jeff Reichman on Feb. 17, this bill is a companion bill to HF 2395 and would pay out the Iowa Solar Energy Tax Credit residential waitlist. The tax credit would be available to any homeowner who installed solar during the 2021 calendar year. The deadline for anyone who has not yet submitted a tax credit application has been extended to June 30. The bill was assigned to a subcommittee on Feb. 22nd, but the subcommittee has yet to schedule a meeting.

SF 2321 - Against: Previously SF 2127, this legislation was introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairperson, Sen. Dan Zumbach, and passed out of subcommittee on Feb. 2. The bill provides that the owner or manager of agricultural land shall not install a commercially-owned solar panel field unless it has a Corn Suitability Rating of 65 or lower, which would severely prohibit solar developments in 63 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The bill also requires solar panel fields to be at least one-half mile from the next solar panel field and a setback distance of 1,250 feet from the nearest neighboring landowner. On Feb. 15, the bill was voted out of the Agriculture Committee with a 7-5 vote.

Rural development

HF 2470 - For: Introduced by Rep. Chad Ingels, this legislation would implement the recommendations of the Artisanal Butchery Task Force instituted by the Legislature in 2021. Recommendations include establishing a framework for a one-year community college certificate butchery education program, developing a library of resources for Iowa-based meat processing businesses, and building out a direct-to-consumer toolkit. The bill passed the House on March 2 by a vote of 99-0, and has been assigned to the Commerce Committee in the Senate. Its subcommittee is comprised of Sens. Craig Johnson, Tony Bisignano, and Carrie Koelker.

HF 2322 - For: Introduced by Rep. Chad Ingels, this bill would make changes to membership of the Local Food and Farm Program Council. Required members would include four farmers producing commodities used to prepare or process a local food, three managers of food establishments actively purchasing local foods, and four heads of local or regional community food organizations. Earlier today, March 8, the bill was assigned a subcommittee by the House Ways and Means Committee; Reps. Megan Jones, Joe Mitchell, and Dave Jacoby.