Two Weeks Remain in Iowa Legislative Session

Two Weeks Remain in Iowa Legislative Session

Officially, there are only two weeks remaining in the 2011 Iowa Legislative session. A number of ag issues are still on the table, and these legislative bills are in jeopardy of dying if lawmakers can't reach agreement on them this week.

There are officially only two weeks remaining in the 2011 Iowa Legislative Session, due to the fact that legislators' last paid day is Friday, April 29.  The legislature can work beyond this day without pay if desired, but most likely will adjourn April 29 or a few days after. This is the time of year when most of the legislative work at the Statehouse in Des Moines is completed through private negotiations, and not on the floor of the House or Senate.

There are a number of issues of interest to agriculture that are still on the table, but this legislation will be in jeopardy of dying if resolutions are not found next week, says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, government affairs director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Bills of interest to farmers and others involved in agriculture that still await action are:  ethanol and biodiesel tax credits, infrastructure for blender pumps and E85, electrical inspections, property tax relief, water quality and conservation issues, and agro-terrorism.

New Iowa congressional and state legislative districts voted on

The Iowa Legislature last week voted for new Iowa congressional and state legislative districts. The legislation now goes to Governor Branstad who will either sign it into law or reject it.

On April 14, the Iowa House and Senate chambers both voted to support House File (HF) 682, the proposed redistricting plan that was released on March 31.  The votes were 91-7 in the House and 48-1 in the Senate. 

The plan was generated by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, and was created by computer modeling designed to take into consideration population and geography, not the residency of any incumbent. Redistricting is required by law every ten years due to population changes, to ensure each district has approximately the same number of people represented. 

HF 682 now goes to Governor Branstad for his signature. Branstad has not yet publicly stated his intentions toward signing the bill, but with the wide vote margins in both chambers, it is expected that this will be the final redistricting plan for the next decade. The November 2012 elections will use the new district lines, with legislators taking office in the new districts in January 2013. To view the new maps, click on the links below. 

U.S. House of Representatives
http://www.legis.iowa.gov/DOCS/Resources/Redist/2011/2011-03-31/Plan1_SmallMap_Congress.pdf

Iowa House of Representatives
http://www.legis.iowa.gov/DOCS/Resources/Redist/2011/2011-03-31/Plan1_SmallMap_House.pdf

Iowa State Senate
http://www.legis.iowa.gov/DOCS/Resources/Redist/2011/2011-03-31/Plan1_SmallMap_Senate.pdf

Ag committees will write new federal farm bill in 2012

Mindy Larsen Poldberg provides the following update on what's happening in Washington D.C., regarding Congress making plans to write the new federal Farm Bill in 2012.

In a series of media interviews this past week, both House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders indicated that they would complete the new Farm Bill in 2012. The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 will expire on September 30, 2012. Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (D-OK) intend to pass the farm bill on an expedited schedule next year, and send it to President Obama for his signature before the fall election. 

With each party controlling one chamber of Congress, it is likely the process for the two chambers will be very different. Some leaders are proposing that the bill not be considered until the March 2012 Congressional Budget Office's ten-year budget numbers are released, and the 2012 budget resolution is considered. 

The Senate Committee is likely to begin the process first, while the House Committee may take a bit longer, due to the fact that 23 of the 46 members on the House Agriculture Committee have never served on the committee before and out of 26 Republican members, 16 are in their first term in Congress. The Senate Agriculture Committee had less turnover, including Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) a former Secretary of Agriculture, Kent Conrad (D-ND) Senate Budget Committee Chairman, and several former chairmen on both sides of the aisle. The Obama Administration does not plan to release formal proposals like the Bush Administration
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