Iowa Legislative Update—May 31, 2022

Environment
Farm and Food
Small Business
Small Towns

It’s official—this year’s Iowa legislative session has come to a close. Legislators wrapped up just after midnight last Wednesday, May 25, after two marathon days of passing bills. Two Center priorities in particular fared well in the final days of the session. 

First, we were encouraged to see lawmakers make good on a promise to Iowans investing in residential solar energy systems. Senate File (SF) 2367, a tax bill that passed the Legislature on May 23, included components that will pay out the residential waitlist of the Solar Energy Systems Tax Credit. The application deadline for projects completed last year was also extended to June 30. This legislation achieved the same goals the Center strongly supported in House File (HF) 2556 and SF 2326 for much of the session. 

Read more: Center welcomes decision on solar tax credit payments 

We also were enthusiastic to see two measures for Iowa’s small meat processors advance. In both chambers, legislators unanimously passed HF 2470, which will put into motion recommendations from the Artisanal Butchery Task Force created by the Legislature in 2021. Among other initiatives, the bill will create the framework for a one-year community college certificate program on artisanal butchery. 

Soon after, lawmakers passed HF 2564, an appropriations package that included $1 million for the Butchery Innovation and Revitalization Fund, a grant program established in 2021 to help small-scale meat processors increase capacity. This year’s funding level from the Legislature is an increase of $250,000.

Read more: lawmakers show continued support for Iowa’s small meat processors 

All three bills now head to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk to sign. 

Finally, a sincere thank you for engaging with our updates, contacting your legislators, and caring about the issues that impact rural Iowa. We look forward to working alongside you again soon.

Water quality

SF 2206 - For, with note: Introduced by Senate Ways and Means Chair, Sen. Dan Dawson, this legislation was a multi-faceted tax package. The Center was registered in support, specifically for section 206 as it relates to the Local Conservation Partnership Program and Watershed Management Authorities. This legislation was withdrawn, in place of the tax package that was signed by the governor on March 1, though components were carried over to Senate Study Bill (SSB) 3157. 

SSB 3157 - For, with note: This legislation would have modified sales and use taxes, including raising the state sales tax by a penny through 2050. This would fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, or IWILL. The Center was registered in support of this legislation specifically as it related to Watershed Management Authorities and the Local Conservation Partnership Program in section 91. This study bill did not advance after its subcommittee meeting in March. 

HF 2166 - For: Introduced by State Government Committee Chair, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, this bill designated certain county flood mitigation activities as essential county purposes. Additions included the reconnection of floodplains, and wetland and oxbow lake restoration. This legislation passed the House on Feb. 22 by a vote of 93-2, but did not advance past its Senate subcommittee. 

House Study Bill (HSB) 536 - Against: This bill would restrict counties and cities from adopting, enforcing, or otherwise administering regulations on stormwater that exceed or conflict with federal or state regulations. This bill did not advance past its House subcommittee.

Renewable energy

HSB 697 - Support: Introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chair Rep. Ross C. Paustian, this bill would have created a shared solar net metering cooperative, effectively permitting virtual net-metering. This bill did not make it out of committee before the first funnel deadline.

SF 2321 - Against: Introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Sen. Dan Zumbach, this bill would have created statewide siting standards for utility-scale solar projects. It provides that the owner or manager of agricultural land shall not install a commercially owned solar panel field unless the solar panel field has a CSR of 65 or lower, the solar panel field is at least one-half mile from the next solar panel field, and the solar panel field is located at least 1,250 feet from the nearest neighboring landowner. This bill did not advance past the second funnel deadline.

Rural development

HF 2581 - For, with note: This bill called for changes to programs and regulations administered by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The Center was registered in support of Division V of the legislation, which details changes to the Local Food and Farm Program. Such changes include required membership of the Local Food and Farm Program Council and details related to program administration. On April 5, the bill passed the House by a vote of 97-0, and on April 26 it passed the Senate by a vote of 45-0. It is now on the governor’s desk to sign.

HSB 663/SSB 3118 — For: These companion bills would have allowed a governmental body to conduct a meeting by electronic means if it otherwise complies with standard open meetings procedural requirements. Effectively used during the pandemic, an option for electronic meetings could have positive effects, particularly among rural and distantly-located participants. These bills did not advance beyond their respective subcommittees.