Policy Perspectives
February 7, 2014
Professional Developers of Iowa's Policy Perspectives comes out every two weeks during the legislative session, but you don't have to wait for two weeks to check on the status of bills of interest.  Our Bill Tracker is updated daily - bookmark this link to keep up with daily action on PDI's bills of interest.
Friday, February 7, marks the end of the fourth week and the 26th Session day of the 2014 Legislative Session.  If legislators stick to the compressed timeline they established for the 2014 session, then we could be nearly one-third of the way through the session.  The pace of the past two weeks certainly indicates that legislative leadership intends to attempt a short session.  Best laid plans...


While discussions occur behind the scenes about the framework for the budget, the spotlight right now is clearly on preparation for the funnel deadline on February 21st.  By that date, any bill not dealing with taxes or spending will have to emerge from committee in order to remain alive for the session.  Accordingly, the typical day at the Capitol consists of anywhere from 15-25 full committee meetings and 40-60 subcommittee meetings. 


For example, on Thursday, the House alone had 32 subcommittees on bills, 10 full committee meetings and 6 joint appropriations committee meetings with the Senate.  The Senate had those same 6 joint meetings, along with 16 subcommittees on bills and 8 full committee meetings.


Additionally, legislators see a pile of new bills introduced every day.  The piles will get much smaller as the funnel deadline comes and goes, however, right now is a very heavy time for bills to be introduced.  On Thursday, the pile went down to 36 new bills, from 55 on Wednesday, 40 on Tuesday and 48 on Monday.


From an issue standpoint, we are not seeing much movement from where we started in that the budget will be the main piece of legislative work this session.  The recent court decision to force the reopening of the Toledo Juvenile Home is an issue that will now need to be addressed by legislators.  Prospects for the gas tax still remain unclear.

2014 Grow Iowa Day
Thank you to all those that braved the horrible weather to attend Grow Iowa Day at the Capitol this week!  We knew that despite the treacherous conditions, there would likely be a lot of legislators there.  And we were right!  A large number of legislators made their way through the event, picked up some pizza, reviewed the legislative agenda and talked with developers. 


To those of you that elected not to venture in, you made the right choice.  The roads around Central Iowa were extremely dangerous that day.  For the record - Typically, if a storm arrives in the middle of a session week, legislators are already in town.  Cancelling activities means all of them collectively staying in their hotel rooms or rented houses that are often within a couple of miles of the Capitol.  In other words, if they are in town already, they won't likely cancel.  Capitol Rotunda Conversely, if a large storm comes in either early or late in the week, they may hold off on coming to Des Moines or leave early, as the case may be. 


On the day after Grow Iowa Day, legislators received a hard paper copy of the 2014 Legislative Agenda in their mailboxes.  If you have a chance, please weigh in with them and discuss the items on the agenda.  You can open and print one HERE.

Major General Timothy Orr with the Iowa National Guard delivered his Condition of the guard address to the Legislature this week.  You can view the speech HERE.

A Collection of Other  
Economic Development News 

Tax Increment Financing

We have not yet seen a TIF bill, but we remain confident that one will be introduced soon, most likely containing three provisions:  an elimination on the use of TIF for public buildings, a sunset for TIF districts that currently do not have an end date and a limitation on TIF debt that goes above and beyond the constitutional debt limit that is already in place for local governments.


The Iowa League of Cities this week released a report to their members to help educate about TIF and to share some analysis.  The report is on the website HERE.  PDI members should look over the report and familiarize yourself with some of the findings. 


The best way for economic developers in Iowa to defend our ability to use TIF is to be talking to and providing real life (preferably local) examples to legislators about how your community is using TIF in a responsible way.  The more legislators that have stories to share, the more likely it is that legislators will proceed very carefully on any proposed changes.  Set up a meeting with your legislators TODAY.  Arrange a special economic development tour for them and drive them around your area.


Enterprise Zones

Legislation to replace the expiring Enterprise Zone program has been introduced in both the House and the Senate.  HSB 542 and SSB 3129 is the product of several stakeholder meetings over the course of the last several months, in which PDI was heavily involved.  HSB 542 passed out of subcommittee in the House easily this week, however it remains to be seen whether the Senate bill will face more challenges.  A subcommittee meeting on SSB 3129 is set for this Wednesday afternoon.


PDI is registered in support of the IEDA's Enterprise Zone proposal, and we would urge members to consider contacting their Senators to share their support.  The PDI members involved in the helping the IEDA arrive at this proposal believe the IEDA did a good job of coming up with an Enterprise Zone bill that represents a middle ground between all the parties involved.  PDI brought several changes to the table that the IEDA has been gracious about accepting. At the end of the day, while there are still a couple of things we would push even farther, we are satisfied that the IEDA proposal strikes a good balance between value to the users of the program, manageability by the IEDA, and something we think we can get the Legislature to pass. 


Please take some time to look over the proposal yourself and weigh in if you have thoughts about improving it even further.  The IEDA produced a summary of the proposal that you can view HERE.


Broadband and Connect Iowa

There are now a couple of different bills aimed at facilitating more investment in broadband.  The Governor's bill (HSB 515) and a counterpart in the Senate (SSB 3119) have similar goals with slightly different approaches to do just that.  Please take some time to review the different bills, share them with industry folks in your area and then provide feedback to your legislators.  They will want to know what job creators in their area think about this issue.


Apprenticeship bill

The Governor's proposal to expand apprenticeships and reform the way 260F is managed (SSB 3052) is being discussed in both chambers.  The community colleges have registered concerns with the proposal.  PDI is monitoring the bills and will be helpful however we can in bringing both sides together to pass a proposal that puts more money in job training programs. The IEDA has prepared a document that summarizes the proposal that is available HERE.


Brownfield and Grayfield Redevelopment

The IEDA's legislation (SSB 3050 and HSB 540) to make several enhancements to the Brownfield and Grayfield Redevelopment Tax Credit program continues to move forward.  These bills add eligibility for public buildings.  You can view a summary of this proposal HERE.  

Transportation Day 2014 and Gas Tax Bill

Wednesday, January 29, was Transportation Day at the Capitol. Advocates for increasing funding for highway infrastructure had several events throughout the day, including a subcommittee on HSB 514. This bill would raise the gas tax by 10 cents over a three-year period. PDI is registered in support of this bill. HSB 514 was passed by the subcommittee and will now have to be approved by the full House Transportation Committee before the first funnel deadline in order to remain alive for the year. If you support this effort, now would a good time to contact your legislators in favor of HSB 514. You can find your legislators HERE.     


On February 5, the Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa (APAI), the Iowa Associated General Contractors, the Iowa Limestone Producers, the Iowa Concrete Association and the Portland Cement Association, announced a joint effort to fund billboards, press releases and a website entitled www.fundourroads.com in areas with legislators that have not addressed the critical shortfall in Iowa's infrastructure funding. You can view the press release HERE. Please visit the site and see if you want to engage in this effort.

Your Legislative Team
Craig Patterson - craig@ialobby.com
Amy Campbell - amy@ialobby.com

Legislative Committee Co-Chairs:
Wayne Pantini - wpantini@unioncountyiowa.com
Steve Dust - dust@cedarvalleyalliance.com
Brent Willett - bwillett@northiowacorridor.com

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