Iowa legislative update March 23

It starts to get a little crazy, with companion bills, new versions of previously introduced bills, etc.  No guarantees that I have all of the most relevant bills.

Residential occupancy restrictions:  HF161 passed out of the House on a 74-26 vote and was referred to the Senate.  The Senate’s milder version of the residential occupancy restriction bill is now SF458. The Senate version would permit a city to have an occupancy limit, but would require the city to establish a waiver process to allow a property owner to make the claim to the city’s board of adjustment that their property is suitable for occupancy beyond what the city ordinance allows.

Open meetings:  SF384, passed out of the Senate on a 50-0 vote. Among other things, it would now exclude weekends in the calculation of 24-hour notice requirements, and require advisory committees to comply with open meeting requirements, whether or not the advisory committee has any policy-making functions.

Cell towers:  HSB167 is now HF556.  It would provide a uniform set of regulations for the approval of new towers by local governments.  The FCC ruling issued last fall (blogposts here) addressed collocation of facilities and substantial modifications to existing facilities.  This proposed Iowa legislation is directed at new tower siting.

Abandoned nuisance properties:  SF233 passed out of the Senate on a 49-0 vote, and was referred to the House.  The House companion bill is now HF385.  It does a lot of things, but relevant to city planning it adds due process and clarity to the process for addressing abandoned nuisance properties, and expands the reach of the process to commercial properties (currently applies only to residential properties).

Eminent Domain:  SF449, a bill relating to procedures and requirements for condemning property and disposing of certain condemned property, passed out of the Senate 50-0. The bill specifies that the authority to condemn property is not conferred on an acquiring agency unless the governing body for the acquiring agency first approves a preliminary or final route or site location of the proposed public improvement.

Tax abatement for nuisance residential properties:  SF278, a bill that creates an abatement schedule for individuals who want to clean up and redevelop residential properties, passed out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. It now has a successor bill SF480.  It allows a city or county to grant an exemption of less than 10 years and less than 100 percent of the value added. The amendment also requires the property owner to disclose any and all other sources of public benefit so the local government can know the full context of the economic need.

Rural Improvement Zones:  HF 249 is now HF557, which passed out of subcommittee of Ways and Means.  It would amend the requirements for establishing, financing, and dissolving Rural Improvement Zones

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