Policy Perspectives
End of Session - May 3, 2014
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The 2014 Session is in the Books

The 2014 Legislative Session of the 85th Iowa General Assembly effectively ended when the House of Representatives adjourned sine die (without date) at 5:54 AM on Thursday, May 1.  The Senate followed suit by adjourning at 8:50 AM on Friday morning.  Friday marked the 110th Session Day of the 100-day scheduled session, forcing legislators to work unpaid for 10 days (or 9, in the case of House members). 

 

The end of the session required both chambers to work through the night Wednesday night straight through into Thursday morning.  The House had to take action just before midnight to waive a House rule that prohibits taking votes after midnight.  The lobbyists and staff all worked furiously with legislators as they negotiated the final details of the budget bills, directed and then waited on bill drafters, and continued narrowing the list of "to do" bills until the House reached the end of all legislative business at around 4:15 Thursday morning and began closedown speeches.  Within two hours, many House members had left the building, choosing not to wait to see what the Senate would do.

 

The very last bills to make it to the finish line included the Standing Appropriations bill, a spending bill that contains debt reduction and one-time funding, a bill decriminalizing the possession of cannabidiol for a small group of epileptic sufferers, a bill modernizing HIV statutes, a bill establishing a new motorsports recreational vehicle classification, the Administration & Regulation budget bill, and the Economic Development Appropriations bill with new Apprenticeship program language. 

 

The Senate's one day delay in adjournment was to pursue subpoena power for their Government Oversight Committee after they had received all the bills they needed from the Iowa House.  The subpoena power comes in the form of a resolution that only needed to pass the Senate and will allow the Government Oversight Committee to subpoena witnesses in the ongoing investigation of the Department of Administrative Services' negotiations of confidential personnel settlement, and the Department of Workforce Development's influence over Administrative Law Judges to compel them to rule in favor of businesses in unemployment compensation cases.  The Government Oversight Committee is one of the few legislative committees that has the ability to meet throughout the year, similar to the Administrative Rules Review Committee.

 

The Governor now has 30 days to take action on all legislation passed by the Legislature in the final days of the session.  His choices are to sign a bill into law or to veto a bill.  However, in the case of spending bills, the Governor can exercise a line-item veto, but only on complete sections of a bill.  The Governor cannot change a dollar amount for a program or strikeout part of an item.

 

This year's later-than-anticipated finish leaves legislators with primaries just a month to knock doors and talk to voters before the June 3, 2014 primary.After those primaries, the run-up to the November election promises to be exciting.The 2014 November election will feature an open U.S. Senate race and two open U.S. House races, something that hasn't happened in Iowa in over a generation.Excitement generated from those races as well as the contested Governor's race could have a dramatic effect on the legislative races down the ballot.This year's 26-24 Democratic Senate and 53-47 Republican House could very well change hands, depending on who turns out on Election Day.

IEDA Budget

The Economic Development Appropriations Bill (HF 2460) finally advanced to the Governor's desk on the final night of session, providing level-funding for the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).  The long hold-up on HF 2460 had nothing to do with IEDA or Iowa Workforce Development funding, but rather was related to the Governor's Apprenticeship proposal.  Legislators knew they would need a bill on which to attach the Apprenticeship compromise, so they held the Economic Development Budget bill until they needed to use it. 

 

The free-standing Apprenticeship bill ended up being scrapped and the proposal was attached to HF 2460 instead.  The session-long discussion between the IEDA and the community colleges ended with legislation that moves the 260F program to the Department of Education, but caps administrative fees on programs as requested by the IEDA.  The language calls for $3 million each per year for the 206F program and for the Apprenticeship Training program.

 

TIF Bill

Thank you to all of you that took the time to call or email legislators in opposition to House File 2467! Despite a big push from a Johnson County-based small business group and an out-of-state mall developer, House members decided not to push HF 2467 through the Iowa House.  We hope this allows us the time in the months ahead to sit down with House Ways & Means Chairman Sands, along with our TIF partners and bond attorneys, to walk through his proposals and provide some feedback.

 

While we were confident the Senate did not have an appetite to pass HF 2467, we still needed your phone calls and emails to ensure it didn't pass the House.  In the closing hours of a legislative session, issues that have been dead for days, sometimes months, all-of-a-sudden can be resurrected in order to get the votes necessary to close down the session.  It happens EVERY year.  If HF 2467 had passed the House, though still unlikely, it is possible that the House could have forced the Senate to trade HF 2467 for one of their priorities. Not having a full House vote on the bill made that much more difficult.

 

As we begin reaching out to some legislators on TIF in the months ahead, please be talking with yours about how you use TIF locally and the bind you would be in if its use became too restricted.  We need legislators to know the different ways in which their communities rely on TIF so they can keep those details in mind whenever they are looking at a TIF proposal at the Statehouse.  Invite them out for a private economic development tour of the area and let them know all the things you are working on.


Line Item Veto Alert !!  

Be advised that any line item in any appropriations bill is an allowable line item veto under Iowa law.  While the IEDA budget items are safe, other items, particularly those in the RIIF and One-time Spending Bills, can be struck by the Governor if he doesn't see the need for the funding. 

If you see an item that you deem as especially important to you, you should contact the Governor (and gets friends to do the same).  You can register an opinion with him at https://governor.iowa.gov/constituent-services/register-opinion  

 

 Infrastructure Budget

The Rebuild Iowa's Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) Budget (SF 2349) took a little longer than normal this year for the Legislature to finalize due to the extreme differences between the House and Senate versions.  The bill not only went to conference committee, but then languished there for quite some time while the House and Senate chairs hammered out a compromise.  In the end, here are some of the things included in the final RIIF Bill:

  • Carries $4 million for Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program (bringing total up to $25 million total - $16 million in Ag/NR Budget and $5 million in One-Time Spending Bill)
  • Adds new appropriations for rural YMCA infrastructure ($500,000)
  • Good Earth State Park at Blood Run ($2 million)
  • Iowa Park Foundation to promote parks in Iowa ($2 million)
  • Railroad revolving loan fund ($4 million)
  • Doubles funding for the World Food Prize (to $200,000)
  • Doubles funding for recreational trails (to $6 million).  Earmarks $1 million of recreational trail funds for historic bridge renovations (with no more than $500,000 per grantee)
  • Adds $1 million to DNR lake restoration ($9.6 million total; no earmark for the increase)
  • Add $1 million for water and low head dam removal or mitigation ($2 million total)
  • Maintains current funding for Great Places ($1 million)
  • Public Transit Grants ($1.5 million)
  • Allows any unspent funds in the Community Attractions & Tourism (CAT) fund to carry forward through June 30, 2015
  • Directs the Department of Transportation to study administrative needs, projected demand, necessary capital and operating costs, and public transit service structures including park-and-ride lots, employer or public van pool programs, and traditional fixed-route transit (report due 12/15/14).

One-Time Spending/Debt Reduction Bill  

The Debt Reduction / One-Time Spending Bill (SF 2363) was one of the last bills introduced at the Statehouse, being released in near-final form a handful of hours before final adjournment.  The bill allocates $60.5 million to pay off state debt that includes Vision Iowa bonds.  In addition, the bill allocates a total of $79.8 million toward a variety of one-time projects, including:

  • $1.24 million agricultural drainage well water quality assistance
  • $3.5 million for water quality initiative special projects
  • $100,000 for a Midwest US-Japan Conference
  • $4 million for IEDA Strategic Infrastructure Fund
  • $400,000 Home Base Iowa Initiative
  • $1.2 million for UI Flood Center ($200,000 of which is for groundwater monitoring and $1 million for soil monitoring network)
  • $3 million for UNI Advanced Manufacturing Center
  • $5 million for REAP anniversary (bringing total up to $25 million - $16 million in Ag/NR budget and $4 million in Infrastructure budget)
A Collection of Other  
Economic Development News 

Consumables

Legislation (HF 2443) being pushed by our friends at ABI to allow consumable supplies used in manufacturing to be exempt from sales and use tax did not advance through the Senate.  Thank you to those of you that took the time to call or email legislators in support of this bill.

 

Enterprise Zones

Legislation (HF 2448) to replace the expiring Enterprise Zone program advanced to the Governor's desk in the final week of session.  After the bill is signed into law, the IEDA will begin developing the administrative rules and getting information out to PDI members.  Thank you all for your help in getting HF 2448 across the finish line. 

 

Brownfield and Grayfield Redevelopment Tax Credits

The Redevelopment bill (SF 2339) was completed in early April and has already been signed into law.  The bill contained language pushed through by Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo to add a member appointed by the PDI Board to the State's Brownfield Redevelopment Advisory Council.  House Majority Leader Upmeyer ensured the PDI language stayed intact in the House.  We appreciate the legislative support!

      

IEDA Programs

IEDA's bill (HF 2445) to make some changes relating to investment tax credits, targeted small business and the strategic infrastructure program was passed on the final day of session and will now be headed to the Governor's desk.

 

Broadband Expansion

Efforts to pass a Broadband Expansion bill, one of the Governor's priorities, were thrown for a loop when the bill lost 44-51 on the House Floor, a rare occurrence.  Both parties in the House blamed the other side for the bill going down.  Regardless of who is responsible, 42 Republicans and 2 Democrats were not enough to provide the 51 votes needed to pass.  Should the Governor be successful in his re-election bid, expect to see him make another run at this issue next year.      

 

Gas Tax

For those of you tracking the efforts by many to raise the gas tax in Iowa in order to address the road funding shortfall, you are leaving the session without a victory (again).  Representative Josh Byrnes of Osage, the House Transportation Committee Chair, tried until the very end of session to pass an increase, attempting to amend the DOT's Policy Bill and also the Standing Appropriations Bill. The DOT effort was ruled not germane by the Speaker and the effort on Standings was thwarted by a procedural move that made that bill unamendable in the House.

 

Advocates seeking the gas tax increase will need to be vigilant now going into the new election season.  Due to retirements, there will be at least ten new House members and five new Senators in the next session, so getting those new legislators on board now (before they are elected) should help advance the issue next year.  




Your Legislative Team
Lobbyists:
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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