We are approaching the 100th day of session, which is the end date during the second session of a General Assembly. We will not meet the April 19, 2022, deadline for final adjournment as budget bills have yet to pass both chambers.
House Republicans have sent all our budget proposals to the Senate with the exception of the final budget bill known as Standings. All nine of our budget bills await further action in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Noteworthy bills that passed through the Iowa House this week include Senate File 2376, Overweight Truck Permits, and Senate File 2378 (House File 2471), Bottle Bill Improvements.
Overweight Truck Permits
Senate File 2376 allows farmers and others to purchase overweight truck permits year-round. This bill was drafted based on harvest proclamations signed nearly every fall by the Iowa governor.
Most recently, Gov. Reynolds signed a planting proclamation that allows vehicles transporting corn, soybeans, other agricultural seed, water, herbicide, pesticide, fertilizer (dry, liquid, and gas), manure (dry and liquid), gasoline, diesel #1, diesel #2, ethanol, and biodiesel to be overweight (not exceeding 90,000 pounds gross weight) without a permit through May 11, 2022. This proclamation applies to loads transported on all highways except for the interstate system.
When SF 2376 becomes law, trucks will be allowed to run to 12% overweight per axle up to 90,000 pounds. Truck owners will be required to pay an annual fee of $500 per truck for the permit. Seventy-five percent of this fee will be deposited into the county bridge construction fund.
Iowa’s 40-year-old bottle deposit and redemption system has become outdated, so lots of time and energy has gone into making it viable for the future. The Iowa House and Senate had different versions, but an agreement was struck this week. The Iowa House on April 12 passed Senate File 2378, which increases the handling fee for redemption centers and retailers to take empty containers to three cents per container. It also gives retailers the ability to opt out of taking empty containers back if they meet one of the following criteria:
1. Retailer has a food establishment license and has a certified food protection manager on site,
2. Retailer has an agreement with a mobile redemption system, or
3. Retailer is within the radius of a redemption center based on its county’s convenience standard.
House Republicans also worked to ensure a number of consumer protections were included in the bill. Ensuring the convenience standard, or the required radius for redemption center based on a county’s population, remains the law. We hope to encourage additional redemption centers and retailers to take back empty containers by increasing the handling fee to three cents per container, and we added enforcement mechanisms to ensure the law is enforced.
Senate File 2378, as amended, enables the DNR and Iowa’s attorney general to work together to ensure all stakeholders – retailers, distributors, redemption centers, and recyclers– are following the law. Finally, it establishes a legislative review committee that will meet ahead of the 2026 legislative session to review how the law is working and report its findings.
Gov. Kim Reynolds recently announced a new campaign called “Destination Iowa” that allocates $100 million toward quality of life projects in communities statewide. The project’s goal is to attract visitors and new residents. Cities, counties, nonprofits, and other organizations can apply for Destination Iowa grants from four separate funds: Economically Significant Development, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism Attraction, and Creative Placemaking.
Applications will begin being accepted on May 9, 2022. Funded projects must be completed by June 30, 2026. Funding is being made available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Constituents in the Capitol
Kathy Englin, a coordinator for Education First, and 50 exchange students toured the Capitol. I was delighted to meet Reggy Janssen, an exchange student who is studying this academic year at West Fork High School in Sheffield. Reggy’s mother and older sister were visiting from the Netherlands, so they also got the opportunity to tour our beautiful capitol and meet Gov. Reynolds.
Also this week I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from Church Ambassador Network, including Pastor Val Swinton of Clarksville Church of Christ and Pastor Jacqueline Kenyon of Iowa Falls Open Bible Church. They presented with a beautiful copy of the “Founders’ Bible” with my name and the 89th General Assembly engraved on the leather cover.