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Under the Golden Dome: Small Steps 1/26/2018

A water quality bill with a long history in both chambers passes and will be the first law Governor Reynolds signs.  It started in 2016 during the last general assembly. It passed in the house, but did not get debated in the senate.  The general assembly ended, killing the bill.

When the senate switched to all Republican for this general assembly starting in 2017, they took up a bill with very similar language and passed it.  The house, didn’t like it so Rep. Chip Baltimore wrote an amendment that passed. But the Senate voted not to concur with the amendment, meaning it has to go before the house again.

The bills are centered around the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy released in 2012 by the Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University.  It’s designed to reduce the amount of pollution running into Iowa’s steams that eventually feed to the Gulf of Mexico, where the combination of pollutants creates a hypoxic zone. 

There are many solutions the Nutrient Reduction Strategy suggests. Practices like planting cover crops to absorb toxins, no-till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer. All of the options are voluntary.

The water quality bills are designed to help implement some of these solutions, but they have different ways of funding and different levels of accountability.

Rep. Baltimore, author of the house amendment and Sen. Ken Rozenboom, floor manager of the senate bill that passed last year explain there positions.

We will hear debate of the bill from the house.  It becomes somewhat contentious, including harsh criticism from Rep. Baltimore about legislative leaders.

The beginning of a new state constitutional amendment is moving forward. We will listen to the house judiciary subcommittee, where chair and sponsor Matt Windschitl, makes a case to strengthen Iowa’s gun laws through House Joint Resolution 13.

John Pemble is a reporter for IPR