Wallaces Farmer

Water quality, natural resources and tax reform are all major concerns.

Erin Herbold-Swalwell

January 30, 2020

3 Min Read
iowa capital building
SALES TAX: Iowa lawmakers will consider a plan to raise the state’s sales tax by 1 cent, with three-eighths of that cent going for water quality and natural resources programs.Farm Progress

The Iowa Legislature kicked off the 2020 legislative session on Jan. 13. This month, we’ll focus on a few key issues that appear to be on the forefront, a few of the bills that have been introduced thus far, and a look-ahead.

Water quality (and how to further fund it) remains a priority. Gov. Kim Reynolds, in her 2020 Condition of the State address, highlighted her goal to introduce an Invest in Iowa Act that would, among other things, cut income taxes and reduce property tax burdens on Iowa landowners. She also urged the Legislature to increase the amount of money to be allocated for water quality and conservation.

The governor’s plan is to direct 58% of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Fund created by Iowa voters 10 years ago toward water-quality efforts (an estimated $100 million). We will continue to monitor the water quality issue.

Early bills

At the beginning of the session, several bills were introduced that may highlight the path the Legislature will take this session: 

Rural infrastructure. HF 2065 proposes tax incentives for rural employers offering high-quality rural jobs. HF 2107 requires the Economic Development Authority to establish and further develop broadband infrastructure across the state. 

Dicamba. SF 2050 would prohibit the sale and application of dicamba herbicide and make the sale a punishable criminal offense.

Hemp issues. HF 2045 allows the Iowa Department of Ag to waive the 40-acre limit for growing hemp if a contract is in place for the sale of 90% to be used for seed or fiber. We are sure to see discussion of hemp production during this session.

Farm driving and licenses for young workers. SSB 3002 allows the Department of Transportation to create a farm license for drivers age 14 to 16 who live or work on a farm. SF 2061 strikes the requirement that a driver must be nearby or adjacent to a farming operation in order to be operating a tractor or implement of husbandry without a driver’s license.

Tax reform. We are sure to see several early bills proposing other tax credits involving Iowa’s inheritance tax, and renewable energy tax credits, along with other proposed tax reforms.

Legislature’s schedule

What is the Legislature’s timeline in this election year? Typically, Iowa legislative sessions are shorter in election years, but that isn’t always the case. In past sessions, the Legislature has finished later than planned.

To keep on pace to finish the session in 110 days, it sets two self-imposed “funnel” deadlines, when Senate bills must be reported out of Senate committees and House bills must be reported out of House committees. For 2020, the first funnel deadlines is Feb. 21, and the second is March 20. It should be noted that several of the bills introduced above may not be “funnel-proof.”

In next month’s Legal Issues column, we will continue to provide updates on some of the bills introduced this session, their status and potential effect on farms and farm families. Stay tuned for new developments and answers to those questions and other reader questions next month.

The information contained in this article is current as of Jan. 24. For more information on any of the bills listed in this column, visit legis.iowa.gov.

Herbold-Swalwell is an attorney with Brick-Gentry in Des Moines. Contact [email protected].



About the Author(s)

Erin Herbold-Swalwell

Erin Herbold-Swalwell is an attorney with Wickham & Geadelmann PLLC.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like