Iowa House makes progress on Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget

Prepared for Iowa Farmers Union by Advocacy Strategies

In this post:

The legislative pace is quickening, and budget bills are being introduced and approved. Only the Standings and the Ending Balance spending bills remain to be introduced. The majority of policy floor work is complete, and only a handful of bills remain, leaving little for rank and file members to do outside of spending bills. The most significant progress is that the Judicial Branch Budget was agreed to and sent to the Governor this week. Economic Development, Education and Transportation budgets seem to be on the same track, and there are minor differences in the Justice Systems budget and Administration/Regulation Budget. Those should be worked out quickly. Ag & Natural Resources, RIIF, and HHS may be more difficult to come to consensus on.

Key Initiatives from Week 12

Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Both SF 2340 (extending the solar energy income tax credit) and SF 2343 (extending the 476c wind energy tax credits) were sent to the House Commerce Committee this week. This action indicates that the full House will not be taking up the extensions and essentially kills both bills for this session. Renewable energy advocates continue to look for ways to extend the credits this session, especially since the 476c program sunsets in December of this year.

Renewable Fuels

The full Senate amended and approved SF 2344, regarding renewable fuels, on Tuesday. The bill has two sections, the first dealing with the E-15 tax credit and the second dealing with the biodiesel tax credit. Section 1 revises the designated rate for the E-15 tax credit in three time periods. January 1 through May 31 the rate would be 3 cents; June 1 through September 15 the rate would be 10 cents; and September 16 through December 31 the rate would return to 3 cents. This revision would take effect upon enactment of the bill and apply retroactively to January 1, 2014. Section 2 extends the biodiesel production tax credit for 5 additional calendar years through 2019. The Senate amendment extends all the dates in the bill an additional year.

Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget – Local Foods Funding

The House approved the Agriculture and Natural Resources budget, HF 2458, on Wednesday evening. The bill includes $75,000 for the Local Farm and Foods Initiative for the upcoming fiscal year. The bill also funds several clean water and conservation efforts including: a $2 million increase in the Water Quality Initiative, a $725,000 increase in cost share, and $550,000 to close AG drainage wells. Resource Enhancement & Protection (REAP) is funded at $16 million, but the bill transfers $1.5 million from REAP to fund state park maintenance and a forestry project.

Beginning Farmer Tax Credits

On Tuesday, the House approved HF 2454, relating to beginning farmer tax credits. The bill extends the carryover provisions of the beginning farmer tax credit program from 5 years to 10 years. This would allow a farmer to reduce tax liability with the program for five more years if they have the need. The legislation was amended with the Iowa Finance Authority’s Code reorganization language and sent to the Senate.

Other Legislative Highlights from Week 12

Budget Targets

Below are the joint budget targets for the FY15 budget, along with FY14 spending levels, the Governor’s budget recommendations and a summary of where each bill is in the process.

Budget FY 14 Spending Governor
Budget FY 14 Spending Governor
(FY15)
Joint Targets (FY15) Bill Location
Administration and Regulation
(SF 2342)
$52.79 million $53.71 million $51.80 million Passed Senate
Ag & Natural Resources
(HF 2458)
$40.82 million $45.1 million $43.06 million Passed House
Economic Development (HF 2460) $41.38 million $48.08 million $44.33 million Passed House
Education (SF 2347) $716.42 million $716.42 million $716.42 million Senate Floor
Health & Human Services $1.751 billion $1.859 billion $1.858 billion House Approps
Justice Systems (HF 2450)
Judicial Branch (HF 2449)
$716.42 million $729.37 million $728.96million Passed House
Governor
Transportation (SF 2130) $135,000 $0 $0 Passed Senate
Standing $2.991 billion $3.283 billion $3.259 billion Not Introduced
Ending Balance Not Introduced
Infrastructure – RIIF (SSB 3215) Passed Approps
$6.492 billion $7.001 billion $6.972 billion

Secret Payouts to Fired State Employees

This week the controversy continued over the confidential compensation agreements for fired state employees. The Government Oversight Committee heard testimony from four witnesses and administration officials on the matter. Currently, the issues at hand are why the administration replaced experienced, skilled employees with outside contractors and where the funds came from that made the compensation agreements possible. The Senate has proposed appropriating $10,000 to the State Auditor to look at settlements from 1999 on (SF 2342). The House has also amended all the budget bills coming through their chamber with language that attempts to prevent future confidential settlements by prohibiting state departments from paying any confidential settlements out of their appropriations. Codification of Gov. Terry Branstad’s executive order (HSB 684) was approved this week and sent to the House floor. Under the proposed language, confidentiality provisions are prohibited and unenforceable in state personnel agreements, and all future settlements must be posted on state websites for public view. Settlements dating back to 2004 also will be public record and may be obtained through a record request.

Looking Ahead

It has become fairly clear that although progress is being made on budgets, we will not be adjourning in 90 legislative days, and session will continue into the week of Easter. In the upcoming week, we expect to see more progress on budget bills, and decisions will need to be made on specific line items. Some bills are agreed to, and they will be moved to the Governor, but Standings, an Ending Balance bill, and HHS Appropriations continue to be works in progress. We are hearing that 2 weeks likely remain in this session.

2014 Legislative Session Bill Tracking

2014 Legislative Session Bill Tracking

IFU has registered on the following bills introduced during the 2014 Legislative Session (bills listed in italics are no longer under active consideration as stand-alone bills after the 2nd legislative funnel):

IN FAVOR

HF 2102 Water Pollution Control Revolving Loan Fund. Appropriates $20 million for the water pollution control works revolving loan fund for FY2014-2015; authorizes up to $2 million in grants for engineering and feasibility studies in un-sewered communities.

HF 2329 Connect Iowa Act (Governor’s proposal; originally introduced as HSB 515). Introduced as HSB 515. Provides for broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of the state, including a property tax exemption for broadband infrastructure and appropriations.

SSB 3099 Connect Iowa Act (Governor’s proposal). Provides for broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of the state, including a property tax exemption for broadband infrastructure and appropriations.

SF 2324 Broadband Expansion (Proposed by Committee on Economic Growth; originally introduced as SSB 3119 ). Provides for expanded broadband access across the state, including income tax credits and property tax exemptions for broadband infrastructure and appropriations.

HF 2401 Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program (originally introduced as HF 2006). Extends the carry-over period for the tax credit from 5 to 10 years.

SF 2032 Renewable Energy Facility Tax Credit. Extends the required in-service date for facilities qualifying for the credit an additional year through January 1, 2016.

SSB 3166 Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations (Governor’s Budget). Appropriates money to IDALS, IDNR and other government entities for programs and activities relating to agriculture, natural resources and environmental protection. Includes $75,000 in funding for FY2014-2015 for the Local Food and Farm Program.

HF 2011 Minimum Wage Increase. Increases the state hourly minimum wage in increments to $10.10 starting January 1, 2016, with annual increases after that date tied to cost of living increases for federal social security benefits.

SF 2039 Minimum Wage Increase. Increases the state hourly minimum minimum wage in increments to $10.25 starting July 1, 2015.

HF 2046 New Nuclear Power Construction – Requirements for Waste Disposal & Legislative Approval. Restricts issuance of a certificate of public convenience, use and necessity for a new nuclear power facility until: (1) the federal government has identified and approved a disposal method for high-level nuclear waste, and (2) the facility is approved by a majority vote of both houses of the legislature.

HF 2047 New Nuclear Power Construction – Requirements for Voter Approval. Restricts issuance of a certificate of public convenience, use and necessity for a new nuclear power facility until the facility is approved by at least 60 percent of the county electorate in each county within a 250 mile radius of the proposed facility.

HF 2054 New Transmission Lines – Restrictions on Bifurcated Hearings. Prohibits bifurcating a hearing on a proposed transmission line to separately consider the issues of: (1) whether the line is necessary to serve a public use, and (2) the taking of property under the right of eminent domain, except where a majority of both houses of the legislature vote to allow a bifurcated hearing.

HF 2056 New Transmission Lines – Requirements for Public Comment & Use of Electricity in State. (1) If at least 250 residents living in counties impacted by the proposed line submit a signed petition at the informational hearing for the proposed line, each resident signing the petition must be allotted the same amount of speaking time at the hearing as the party seeking the franchise for the new line; (2) In demonstrating the necessity for public use of the proposed line, the party seeking the franchise for the new line shall demonstrate that at least 25 percent of the electricity to be transmitted will be used within Iowa.

HF 2195 Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program. Expands the purpose of the alternative energy revolving loan program to include loans for energy efficiency installations and improvements in the construction or rehabilitation of public buildings.

HF 2424 Urban-Ag Academy (originally introduced as HF 2210). Authorizes the board of regents to conduct an annual urban-ag academy to bring together urban, minority and rural legislators and policymakers together with experts in agriculture and rural development to discuss issues and policy initiatives relating to agriculture.

HSB 634 Milk Use by Dairy Animal Owner. Provides that IDALS may not prohibit a person with an ownership interest in a cow, sheep or goat from using milk derived from that animal for personal consumption or use.

MONITORING

HF 2344 Drainage Districts (originally introduced as HF 460). Allows for merger of drainage districts; provides for bidding procedures for improvements or repairs; allows districts to annex territory and impose special assessments

SF 2191 Drainage District Payments (originally introduced as SF 2055) – SIGNED INTO LAW. Increases ceiling for financing of work performed within a drainage or levee district from $1,000 to $5,000.

HF 2203 Solar Initiatives. Establishes and funds solar energy initiatives involving the regent universities.

SF 2005 Solar Initiatives. Establishes and funds solar energy initiatives involving the regent universities.

SSB 3201 Solar Energy Tax Credit. Increases the solar energy system income tax credit and raises the cumulative cap on solar energy tax credits that may be claimed in a given year.

HF 2427 Corn Assessments (originally introduced as HSB 524) – SIGNED INTO LAW. Provides for an increase in the Iowa corn checkoff from 1 cent to 5 cents per bushel, subject to a vote of approval by producers and other requirements.

SF 2058 Off-Road Vehicles. Revises the definition of “off-road utility vehicle”; provides for registration and regulation of all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles by the DNR; authorizes and limits the use of those vehicles on designated riding areas and trails. (Successor bill SF 2128; replaced by substitute legislation HF 2216)

HF 2048 Eminent Domain & Rail Projects. Makes changes to eminent domain authority and procedures; appropriates $5.5 million in state funding for the passenger rail service revolving fund.

HF 2112 Pesticide Applicators. Allows pesticide applicators to renew their IDALS certification by completing required instructional courses via the internet.

HF 2151 Lobbying by County Ag Extension Districts. Removes restriction prohibiting a county agricultural extension district, its council, members or employees from engaging in the state or federal legislative process.

HF 2226 Air Quality Permits (originally introduced as HSB 564). Eliminates DNR authority to issue conditional permits in lieu of construction permits for electric power generating facilities and other major stationary sources of air pollution.

SF 2197 Air Quality Permits (originally introduced as SSB 3004). Eliminates DNR authority to issue conditional permits in lieu of construction permits for electric power generating facilities and other major stationary sources of air pollution.

SF 2107 Solar Community Gardens. (1)Creates 105MW purchase requirement for in-state solar for each of Iowa’s public utilities by 2020; (2)Provides that a minimum of 10 percent of the requirement must come from facilities with nameplate capacity of 20kW or less; (3) Provides for alternative tariff rates for solar interconnection agreements; (4) Establishes solar community garden program for roof or ground mounted facilities of 1MW or less; utility customers who purchase an interest in the facility receive a credit on their utility bills for electricity generated in proportion to the amount of their subscription.

OPPOSED

HF 2367 Manure Applicator CE (originally introduced as HF 2110). Reduces the number of required continuing education hours for commercial manure service representatives from 3 hours to 2 hours per year, which is the same continuing education requirement for confinement site manure applicators.

 

Iowa Farmers Union
PO Box 1883 Ames, IA 50010-1883
info@iowafarmersunion.org