Renewable Energy moves forward in the Senate

2014 Iowa Legislative Session Week 11

Prepared for Iowa Farmers Union by Advocacy Strategies

In this post:

  1. Key Initiatives from Week 11
  2. Other legislative highlights from Week 11
  3. Looking Ahead
  4. 2014 Legislative Bill Tracking

Key Initiatives from Week 11

It was another uneventful week at the Iowa Capitol as leadership continued to work on budget bills behind the scenes and other end of session efforts. The House met on Tuesday and Wednesday with moderate debate and the Senate worked Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. There are signs that budget work is moving forward. The Education and Economic Development Budgets were introduced this week and Economic Development appears to be agreed upon. The House did approve the Judicial Branch budget and it is now in the Senate, where it will likely be amended.

Renewable Energy Tax Credit

The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved SF 2032 on Monday, and the bill was reintroduced as SF 2343. The full Senate approved the bill on Thursday. This bill extends the wind energy tax credit established in Iowa Code chapter 476C for 2 years and adds in the ability for methane and landfill gas, bio-mass, and thermal gas facilities to utilize the credit. The bill grandfathers a Cerro Gordo County facility into the credit for natural gas co-generation.

Solar Energy Income Tax Credit

The Senate also approved SF 2340 this week, relating to the solar energy income tax credit. The bill increases the amount of the solar credit to 60 percent of the federal residential solar credit, not to exceed $5,000, and 60 percent of the federal energy credit related to solar energy systems, not to exceed $20,000. Additionally, the bill increases the cumulative tax credit amount to $4.5 million annually, and provides that if all of the tax credits available in year are not claimed, the unclaimed credits remain available for the following tax year. A taxpayer is allowed to claim more than one credit, provided the credit is being claimed for separate and distinct solar installations.

House Ag & Natural Resources Budget – Local Foods Funding

The House version of the Agriculture & Natural Resources budget was introduced this week as HF 2458. The bill includes $75,000 for the Local Farm and Food Initiative.  It is likely that this will be the approved funding level, as it is what the Governor had indicated in his budget. The House version funds several clean water and conservation efforts including: a $2 million increase in the Water Quality Initiative, a $725,000 increase in cost share, $550,000 to close AG drainage wells, and $16 million in funding for Resource Enhancement & Protection (REAP). The bill will likely be voted on in the House next week.

Other legislative highlights from Week 11


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(FY15) Joint Targets (FY15) Bill Location
Administration and Regulation (SF 2342) $52.79 million $53.71 million $51.80 million Senate Floor
Ag & Natural Resources (HF 2458) $40.82 million $45.1 million $43.06 million House Floor
Economic Development (HSB 683) $41.38 million $48.08 million $44.33 million Both House and Senate Approp.
Education $716.42 million $716.42 million $716.42million House Approp.
Health & Human Services $1.751 billion $1.859 billion $1.858 billion Not Introduced
Justice Systems (HF 2450Judicial Branch (HF 2449) $716.42 million $729.37 million $728.96million House Floor Senate Floor
Transportation (SF 2130) $135,000 $0 $0 Senate Floor
Standing $2.991 billion $3.283 billion $3.259 billion Not Introduced
Ending Balance ??? ??? Not Introduced
Infrastructure (RIIF) ??? ??? Not Introduced
$6.492 billion $7.001 billion $6.972 billion

Home Base Iowa Initiative

Major progress was made this week on the Governor’s Home Base Iowa Initiative. The House amended SF 303 with many of the policy pieces in the Governor’s bill and returned it to the Senate.  The original language in SF 303 would exempt military retirement income from Iowa taxation.  This language from SF 303 remains in the bill, and the amendment adds language from HF 2224, HF 2319, HF 2359, HF 2351, HF 2373, and HF 2084. The House Veterans Affairs Committee reviewed all of these added bills earlier this session. The bill is now essentially a veterans omnibus bill containing language easing licensing requirements for veterans and spouses, coupling military training with post-secondary educational credits, allowing veteran preference for private employers, eliminating the initial fee for veteran license plates, ensuring that benefits for a surviving spouse are tax exempt, and making changes related to county commissions of veterans affairs. Finally, the bill allows veteran service organizations the ability to rent out their facilities without loosing their property tax exemption. The Senate is expected to amend the bill over concerns with allowing private organizations the ability to give veterans preference in hiring over other candidates. This would send the “package bill” to conference committee .

Secret Payouts to Fired State Employees

Following a week of negative press by the Des Moines Register, Governor Branstad signed Executive Order 85 to end the practice of confidential settlement agreements with state employees. He also released a statement saying that he was troubled and disappointed by the use of confidentiality agreements and that the practice of keeping information from the taxpayers is unacceptable and wrong.  These actions were in response to the Register’s article last week revealing that the state had paid around $300,000 as part of 24 confidential settlement agreements to fired state employees over the last 3 years. The Governor’s Executive Order bans the use of confidentiality provisions in personnel settlement agreements, and requires that agreements be posted on the Dept. of Administrative Services (DAS) website for easy access by the public. The settlement agreements will also need the approval of the directors of the DAS and Dept. of Management, as well as the state agency involved. Ten of the confidential settlements included cash rewards, while 14 did not.

Looking Ahead

Next week the pace on budgets will need to pick up to facilitate the goal of adjourning during the week of April 7th.   The current lack of action on the budget tells us that leaders are working to get deals made on bills before they are brought to the floor for a vote, to avoid the lengthy process of bouncing bills back and forth or conference committees.

Next week the Health and Human Services Budget and the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure (RIIF) bill will likely be introduced. If strong action on budgets does not occur early next week, it will likely mean the deals are not struck, and we may see even less floor action and legislators returning home.

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):


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.


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)

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)

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

– Creates 105MW purchase requirement for in-state solar for each of Iowa’s public utilities by 2020;

– Provides that a minimum of 10 percent of the requirement must come from facilities with nameplate capacity of 20kW or less;

– Provides for alternative tariff rates for solar interconnection agreements;

– 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.


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.

QUESTIONS? Please contact IFU President Jana Linderman via email at

Iowa Farmers Union
PO Box 1883 Ames, IA 50010-1883