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Legislative Representative

 

Iowa Rural Water Association
Final Legislative Summary
May 14, 2018

Emily Piper, Contract Specialist

Emily Piper

Contract Lobbyist
515-202-7772

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Reflections on the 2018 Session
Despite both chambers and the governor’s office being controlled by Republicans, the legislative session went into overtime.  Differences over the depth of tax reform and how to shape the state’s budget caused legislators to work through the month of April, finally adjourning on May 5.

Programs of interest to IRWA members continued to be funded at the same levels as prior years.  No increases but no reductions is good news for the operation of these programs.  The impact of the tax reform package and the continued slow growth of the economy may change this in future years.

Bills that Survived

SF 512 – water quality:  This bill is the governor’s water quality proposal and mirrors legislation that passed the House last year.   It dedicates the sales tax on water to a grant program for water and wastewater infrastructure and water quality efforts and funds a new agriculture cost-share program with money from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on January 31, 2018.

SF 2235 – critical infrastructure:  This bill makes it a Class “B” felony to sabotage critical infrastructure including water and wastewater infrastructure.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 17, 2018.

HF 2307 – private water acquisition:  This bill addresses the Iowa Utilities Board jurisdiction over the acquisition of water or sewer facilities by for-profit utilities regulated by the board.  IRWA and IAMU worked to include language that provides protections to cities who receive purchase offers from for-profit utilities and to ensure that other options, such as franchising with rural water systems, is considered in this process.   Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 21, 2018.

HF 2440 – water quality:  This bill is the “technical” clean-up bill for the water quality legislation passed earlier this year.  The bill makes two changes that were specifically requested by IRWA.  First, it clarifies that a public water supplier that uses a surface water supply listed on the state’s impaired water list is eligible for the newly created loan and grant program.  Second, it applies the same language to eligibility for the in-field agricultural practices portion of the water quality bill.  The bill is before the governor for her consideration.

HF 2502 – standing appropriations bill:  This bill is the annual standing appropriations bill and also includes a number of policy items of interest.   Most notably, the bill creates a geological survey position at Iowa State University and transfers the responsibility of water quantity monitoring, and the associated $495,000 appropriation, to that position.  The position had previously been within the DNR but was eliminated in the last round of budget reductions by the department.  The bill is before the governor for her consideration.