Policy Perspectives
February 21, 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.
Deadline week at the Capitol ended prematurely this week when reports of the "snow storm of the year" came out.  The House rushed through committee work on Wednesday in order to send their people home before the storm hit on Thursday afternoon. The Senate followed suit with all but three committees, which decided to defy nature and finish up their work without forcing quick debate.


Bad things sometimes happen in the rush to get through the funnel.  Bills and amendments are written in haste, and votes taken with promises that the legislation is "a work in progress."  That means imperfect bills emerge from committees, whose main jobs are really to perfect the bills before they hit the floor. As you look through bills of interest, you might find some things that need to be changed with the surviving bills. 


So as you look ahead at the next couple of weeks, legislators will be spending most of their time in floor debate, moving bills off their calendars and over to the other chamber for ongoing committee work.  Amendments will be offered to perfect those imperfect bills, and get them fixed before moving on to the other chamber for ongoing discussion.


The next funnel deadline will be in just three short weeks - about 11 working days.  Bills that want to continue their path to becoming law need to have passed the House or Senate, and be out of the other chamber's committee by Friday, March 14.  After that date, only the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees will continue to meet regularly, as bills coming out of those committees are considered funnel-proof.


Budget subcommittees are also wrapping up their work in the next week or two, with most discussions going on behind the scenes.  The rumors of joint targets may be greatly exaggerated.  Republicans controlling the House are concerned about the State Auditor's report that the Governor's proposed budget overspends by $144 million.  Democrats that control the Senate say the state is sitting on nearly $1 billion in reserves and should use some of that to pay for much-needed infrastructure and other one-time investments.


So while leaders continue to work on a joint target, it may be mid-March when new revenue estimates are released before the two sides come together on a final budget number.In the meantime, budget subcommittee chairs are getting their budgets ready, making language changes, and setting priorities for funding. So now is the time to put the pressure on for your funding priorities.
While this year is largely just a "budget year," due to the passage of so many broad policy initiatives last session, there are a few policy questions the Legislature is attempting to address this session.  Among those policy issues would be the future of the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls, making texting while driving a primary offense (meaning you can be pulled over for doing it) and anti-bullying legislation.  There are also a number of bills dealing with guns, abortion, minimum wage and other hot-button issues, most of which will probably pass one chamber of the Legislature but die in the other chamber. 


Now that the first funnel is done, budget discussions will now start to move forward.  Be sure to reach out to legislators in support of the programs that are a priority to you.  big-bills-money.jpg Decisions will begin to take shape in the days ahead.


Also, be sure to check out the Legislative Forum link near the bottom of this email to see when you can catch your legislators in person at a local forum. A lot of time is spent trying to keep that list updated with the very latest opportunities for you to interact with your legislator IN PERSON.  Take advantage of it!


The 2014 PDI Legislative Agenda can be opened and printed HERE.



A Collection of Other  
Economic Development News 

Tax Increment Financing

No news is good news, right?  We are still waiting to see what gets introduced on TIF this session.  We have been told a TIF bill is in the works.  While we wait, be sure to reach out to your legislators and talk to them about the importance of TIF.  As we shared in the last issue, the Iowa League of Cities released a great TIF report to their members to help educate about TIF and to share some analysis.  That report is available HERE.  


Enterprise Zones

Legislation (formerly HSB 542, now HF 2305) to replace the expiring Enterprise Zone program has cleared the funnel in the House and now needs to be considered by the House Ways & Means Committee before being considered on the House floor.  HSB 542's companion in the Senate did not advance, so the House bill will need to go through the committee process when it reaches the Senate.   


While the Senate discussed the proposal at the committee level, some consideration was given to removing the 90% wage threshold from the program altogether.  The bill already severely restricts the 90% threshold down to use only in brownfield sites, as opposed to the wider allowance of that threshold in the old program.  Since the goal of the program is to hone in and target places that need help the most, PDI would oppose losing that 90% threshold in brownfields.   


We will work to try to ensure the bill as written, the product of several stakeholder meetings over the course of the last several months, remains as close to form as possible. We urge members to consider contacting your legislators to share your support. The IEDA produced a summary of the proposal that you can view HERE.


Broadband Expansion

Legislation to provide incentives to expand broadband access in Iowa continues to advance.  The Governor's bill (was HSB 515, now HF 2329) and a counterpart in the Senate (SSB 3119, soon to be renumbered) will both likely be considered by each chamber's Ways & Means Committee.  Take some time to look over the proposals and weigh in with your legislators about the importance of broadband to your area.  


Apprenticeship bill

The Governor's proposal to expand apprenticeships and reform the way 260F is managed (SSB 3052 and HSB 541) is still alive, but the details are being hotly contested between the Chambers. Most notably, the Senate amended and passed language to completely strip the 260F program out of IEDA and move it to the Department of Education, an idea suggested in a House subcommittee by one of the lobbyists for the community college trustees.  PDI will continue to monitor the bills and will support the two sides coming together on a proposal that puts more money in job training programs. 


Brownfield and Grayfield Redevelopment

The IEDA's legislation (was SSB 3050, now SF 2256, and was HSB 540, now HF 2287) to make several enhancements to the Brownfield and Grayfield Redevelopment Tax Credit program has survived the funnel in both chambers and will be considered by Ways & Means in at least one chamber (but likely both) before being considered on the House & Senate floor. A summary of this proposal is HERE.  

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

Legislative Resources
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