Sine Die: ABI Legislative Session Wrap-up Report

June 5, 2015

It’s Official: Sine Die 2015
May 1, 2015 was the 110th day of the legislative session. More than a month later the Iowa Legislature adjourned for the session on Friday, June 5 at 3:38 p.m. The last bills of the session included appropriations, ways and means, and key policy initiatives. Today's newsletter includes highlights from the last few days of the legislative session. ABI will soon host regional meetings around the state to talk about what happened in 2015 and receive member feedback for issues to discuss in 2016.

Gov. Terry Branstad's statement on the end of session
Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen's closing remarks
House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer's closing remarks
House Democrat Leader Mark Smith's end of session remarks
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal's closing statement
Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix offers closing remarks (begins on page 25)

Broadband, cell tower citing bill sent to governor
As one of the final policy bills of the year, the House and Senate passed a bill that combines broadband, cell tower siting, and flood mitigation. The Senate Ways and Means Committee met Thursday afternoon and took up HF 655, which was the cell tower siting/flood mitigation bill the House passed last month. The Senate amended the bill by making several changes to the cell siting proposal as well as adding in the broadband language.

Changes to the cell siting act include:

  • adjustments to cell tower application requirements including propagation maps and explanation regarding the reason for choosing the proposed location
  • changes disclosure of records from confidential to public
  • inclusion of a sunset date of July 1, 2020

The broadband language retains many of the same incentives the House passed last month. The amended version:

  • adjusts the grant percentage from 10% to 15%
  • allows state dollars to be used
  • allows the property tax exemption to be revoked if the provider no longer offers the service required for the exemption
  • adds a sunset date of July 1, 2020 to allow for a 10 year property tax exemption
  • additional minor changes

The bill passed the Senate 48-2 and the House 82-12. It will now be sent to the governor for final approval.

Read More: Des Moines Register: Broadband bill passes as Legislature heads to finish

30-day veto window begins
Now that session is over, Gov. Terry Branstad has 30 days to determine whether to sign, veto or line-item veto the budget bills sent to his desk. During the time, the governor and his staff will carefully review the language to ensure it fits within the state's budget targets. Groups who want items signed or vetoed typically use that time to send letters of support or opposition to the governor. Keep reading for an overview of budget bills from the business perspective.

SF 510 - Standings Appropriations
The catch-all budget and policy bill is typically the last train out of the legislative station before adjournment. The Iowa House and Senate both included several pieces of policy in their bills.

At the end of the day the following policy provisions impacting the business community were not adopted:
- federal conformity with alcohol testing
- private bid allowance for state park equipment
- employer adoption leave policies
- renewable chemical tax credit
- statute of repose repeal

Provisions impacting employers that were adopted include:
- high quality jobs language
- entrepreneur investment awards program
- angel investor tax credits
- STEM internship program
- abandoned properties

SF 494 - Ag and Natural Resources 
Includes funding for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Appropriates just over $132 million total, with $43 million coming from the general fund. Includes money to support water and air quality programs including the Water Quality Initiatives, the Nutrient Reduction Strategy and a $425,000 status quo appropriation to the DNR Air Quality Bureau.

HF 650 - Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF)
RIIF is the primary funding source for state vertical infrastructure related projects. This year's RIIF budget includes $5.2 million for water quality initiative. The total budget is $119 million for FY2016. 

SF 499 - Economic Development Appropriations
Includes a little more than $42 million in funding for Iowa Workforce Development, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Workers' Compensation Division and the Department of Cultural Affairs. The language also includes funding for an additional wage investigator, which ABI has supported as a way to ensure Iowa employees are getting paid wages they are due. 

HF 658 - Education Appropriations
The Legislature finally reached agreement on the most contentious piece of the state budget - education appropriations. The widely discussed portion of the budget, K-12 spending, received a 1.25% increase ($106 million) from last year. The budget also includes a $55.7 million one-time appropriation. Beyond K-12 funding, the budget appropriates more than $200 million to community colleges, $15 million for workforce training programs, $2.5 million for skilled workforce shortage tuition grants, nearly $600,000 for vocational education administration, and up to $25,000 for the Secondary Career and Technical Education taskforce on which ABI participates. 

SF 505 - Health and Human Services Appropriations
Appropriates approximately $2 billion to Department of Human Services, Public Health, Aging, Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Home. You can see the full analysis from the House Republican caucus here. The final language also includes a copay equalization mandate for occupational therapists, speech pathologists and physical therapists that ABI opposed. 

HF 659 - State Departments and Agencies Appropriations
The conference committee for the appropriations bill funding certain state agencies approved a $51 million budget. Most notably, the report includes language that requires agencies receiving appropriations give preference to Iowa products in purchasing decisions.

HF 666 - One Time Spending
The final budget compromise bill makes various one-time expenditures for programs and services that are not meant to be ongoing appropriations. Some of the items addressed are debt reduction, a medical assistance program, substance-related disorder treatment, public safety radio communications equipment, commercial and industrial property tax replacement, the Department of Corrections, community colleges, and universities. It also includes funding for the Clarinda Mental Health Institute operations through December 2015.

House and Senate take up tax policy bills
Both the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees had very little action this year given a limited budget. The bills below represent bills that were passed earlier in the year but didn't receive full approval until this week.

HF603- Exempts self-pay washers and dryers from sales tax. This bill has been considered in the Legislature for several years. Passed the House 76-14 and passed the Senate 50-0.

HF616 - The initial bill dealt with notification for property tax assessments and equalizations. The final bill included clarifying language related to property tax classification for multi-use buildings. An amendment on the last day of session also included several provisions from the Department of Revenue's policy bill. Most notably: clarifying that off-road ATVs used primarily for agricultural purposes are exempt from sales and use tax. This change helps clarify a gray area of tax policy. The bill also provides a minimum exemption for certain nonresident utility workers from Iowa income tax. 

HF660 - This bill requires any city considering implementing or increasing its franchise fee to hold a public hearing on the matter and provides requirements for notice of the hearing. The bill passed the House with a vote of 98-0 and passed the Senate 50-0.

Reminder: Air permit fee meeting next week
As a reminder, DNR is hosting meetings next Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss new fees for air permit holders. If you or your company would like to participate in the conversation on establishing the new air quality permit fees, it is important to attend the upcoming stakeholder meetings. Meeting materials can be found at under "Workgroups/Fee Advisory Groups."

Dates and Times:
Tuesday, June 9
Title V operating permit application fees: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.,
Major source construction permit and PSD permit application fees: 1 to 3 p.m.

Wednesday, June 10
Minor source construction permit application fees: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.,
Asbestos notifications: June 10 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The meetings will be held at the Air Quality Bureau office located at 7900 Hickman Road, Suite 100, in Windsor Heights. Please RSVP to Wendy Walker or 515-725-9570 and indicate which meetings you will be attending. There will be a conference call line available, but attendees are strongly encouraged to attend the meetings in person to enhance stakeholder interaction.