Iowa 2014 Legislative Session Winding Down

Iowa 2014 Legislative Session Winding Down

Several important issues remain to be acted on before state lawmakers go home for the year.

Tuesday, April 22, is the last paid day for Iowa legislators for the 2014 legislative session at the statehouse in Des Moines. After that, the session is in "overtime." Until the last fall of the gavel, any piece of legislation could still be passed. The Iowa Corn Growers Association notes that several important issues are remaining, a few of which are described below. Thanks to Mindy Larsen Poldberg, government affairs director for ICGA, for this update.

FINAL DAYS: Legislature watchers believe this will be the last week of the 2014 session at the statehouse in Des Moines. "While we have seen very little movement or mention of the fuel tax increase, several bills we are working on have made progress in the last two weeks," says Iowa Soybean Association policy director Carol Balvanz.

Renewable Fuel Tax Credits. On Tuesday, April 15, the Iowa House Ways and Means Subcommittee passed SF 2344, and the full House Ways and Means Committee followed with passage on Thursday, April 17. This bill includes an extension for the biodiesel production tax credit, which would otherwise expire on July 1, 2014.

This bill, SF 2344, enhances the E15+ retailer tax credit by continuing the current rate of 3 cents per gallon from September 16 to May 31 and boosting the rate to 10 cents per gallon from June 1 to September 15. The higher summer rate is designed to offset the increased cost required by price or regulations for Iowa fuel retailers to blend and sell E15 as a registered fuel during the summer months. SF 2344 also extends the state retailer tax credits from the year 2017 to 2019.

The bill also includes some positive language to ensure that biobutanol, when it becomes commercially available, can be used in Iowa. SF 2344 now moves to the floor of the House. Contact your Representative in the Iowa House and ask them to support passage of SF 2344, yet this year, before adjournment.

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ISU Ag Experiment Station Funding. On Tuesday, April 15, the Iowa House passed the Education appropriations bill (SF 2347) by a vote of 53-45. The Education Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015 is a large bill covering many topics, including a $2.5 million increase in funding for the Iowa Agriculture Experiment Station over the $28 million FY14 base funding. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, along with many other ag groups, have supported as much funding as possible for the Experiment Station, and ICGA thanks the House of Representatives for providing $2.5 million more funding than last year. Because the House and Senate versions of the Education  Appropriations Bill are different in numerous ways, the bill now goes to conference committee. Conferees have already been appointed, and the first meeting was held yesterday. The amount of funding is not yet assured. If any of the following conferees are your representative, please make contact to support the Ag Experiment Station increase of $2.5 million: Senators Schoenjahn, Horn, Quirmbach, Sinclair or Boettger, and Representatives Dolecheck, R.Taylor, Highfill, Winckler, or Steckman.

Ag & Natural Resources Appropriations. The Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations bill (HF 2458) was passed by the Senate on Thursday, April 17 by a vote of 26-20. HF 2458 provides funding for numerous programs for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources, including $4.4 million in funding for voluntary practices necessary for the Iowa water quality initiative (Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy) and $3.9 million for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association supports Iowa Department of Ag & Land Stewardship's programs, and within this bill, ICGA priorities this year are to obtain as much funding as possible for IDALS to implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, as well as full funding for the Diagnostic Lab. ICGA will continue to work to increase one-time funds for the Nutrient Strategy in Standings, during the final days of the appropriations process. Because the versions of the ag appropriations bill as passed by the House and Senate are different, HF 2458 goes back to the House to determine whether it will concur. If not, a Conference Committee will be appointed next week. 

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Iowa Soybean Association sees several bills awaiting action
Carol Balvanz, policy director for the Iowa Soybean Association, says many legislature watchers believe this will be the last week of the 2014 session. "While we have seen very little movement or mention of the fuel tax increase, several bills we are working on have made progress in the last two weeks," she says.

Biodiesel Production Credit. The biodiesel production tax credit bill is eligible for debate in the Iowa House this week. Last Tuesday the House Ways and Means Subcommittee passed SF 2344, and the full Ways and Means Committee followed with passage on Thursday. This bill includes an extension for the biodiesel production tax credit, which would otherwise expire on July 1, 2014. It also changes the E15+ retailer tax credit by increasing the rate to 10 cents per gallon from June 1 to September 15 which is designed to offset the increased cost required to blend and sell E15 as a registered fuel during the summer months. SF 2344 extends the state retailer ethanol tax credits out to 2019 and includes language to ensure that biobutanol can be utilized in Iowa (when it becomes available). SF 2344 now moves to the floor of the House. If you have time to call your House member, this would be a good bill to support.

Ag Experiment Station Funding. The Education appropriations bill (SF 2347) passed the House by a vote of 53-45. This bill includes a $2.5 million increase in funding for the Agriculture Experiment Station over the $28 million FY14 base funding. Many of you have spent Hill Visit Days lobbying for this increase. The bill now goes to conference committee since the Senate bill has many variations from House version. Conferees you can contact include: Sens. Schoenjahn, Horn, Quirmbach, Sinclair or Boettger, and Representatives Dolecheck, R.Taylor, Highfill, Winckler, or Steckman. This would be an important call you could make to assure this funding increase stays in the bill.

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Nutrient Management Strategy. The Senate passed the Ag and Natural Resources Appropriations bill (HF 2458) last Thursday by a vote of 26-20. HF 2458 includes $4.4 million in funding for voluntary practices necessary for the Iowa water quality initiative (Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy) and $3.9 million for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The Ag Appropriations will now go back to the House and possibly a conference committee before adjournment

Sales Tax Increase. A new bill SSB 3217 asks for implementation of a sales tax increase to support the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

This new bill emerged last week which would increase the sales and use tax by 1/8 cent each year (2016, 2017, 2018) to raise revenue for Natural Resources and the Outdoor Recreation Trust fund. You may recall that ISA supported this effort several years ago that after a public referendum, the next 3/8 cent increase in sales tax would go to this fund. Revenue raised by this bill would be offset by an individual income tax reduction for certain thresholds of taxpayers. While the bill may not have enough time to get through the session this year, it is worth your reading as it may appear again next year.

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