Getting caught up on Iowa legislative activities

This won’t take long.

The Des Moines Register ran an article that sums up the state of legislative activity during this year’s session.  Not much going on with any of the bills I’ve been tracking to-date.  Here is what I have since my last review:

SF390 –  discussed here – passed the house 97-0, and was sent to the Governor for his signature.

HF307 moving Homeland Security and Emergency Management from the Department of Public Defense into its own department, passed the Senate 48-0 and was sent to the Governor for his signature.

Other bills have been referred on to full committees: HF184, HF268, HF516, SF420 (formerly SF70).

More action this week

I overlooked a bill from this week:

SF390 –  In 2008 the legislature put into place a law requiring an inspection of private sewage disposal systems at the time of some types of title transfers. Title abstracts to such property were required to include documentation of the inspection. In 2010 the title abstract requirement was eliminated. This bill adds a retroactive applicability provision to the 2010 action, making the elimination of the title abstract requirement retroactive to July 1, 2009, which is the original enactment date of the title abstract requirement.

Legislative action as of March 20

HF268 eliminating smart planning from the Iowa Code.  The House Local Government Committee held an interesting committee hearing Tuesday morning.

HF219 regarding eminent domain, passed the house 93-6, and was sent to the Senate.

HF359 which would nullify the Mall Real Estate case, passed the house 90-10, and was sent to the Senate.

HF307, creating the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, passed the house 100-0 and was sent to the Senate.  The Senate bill is SF289.

HSB75 concerning special assessments, is now HF588.

HF561 would provide a property tax exemption for property used as a fruit and/or vegetable garden by the city or a non-profit(?).

HF516 would place limitations on the provision of water services by rural water associations to areas within two miles of a city after July 1, 2013.  Itexpands the notice requirements placed on the rural water association.  It also substantially increases the required contents of the water plan beyond just showing the new area the district is to serve. Among the new requirements of the plan is the area the district or association intends to serve within four years following the date that the plan is filed with a city; information relating to federal financing, fire protection service capacity, and information related to the number of customers served or intended to be served.  Current law provides that a city may waive its right to provide water service within the areas designated in a water plan. The bill provides that a city may rescind such a waiver after four years if the water district or association has not provided service to the area. The bill provides a definition for the term “economically or  adequately served” related to the provision of water service by a district or association. It provides that a district be compensated for distribution facilities acquired by a city through buyout procedures and provides a formula for determining the amount of compensation to be paid. The bill further provides that a city may provide compensation to a district or association for service that was proposed or intended to be provided by the district or association at the time of acquisition. The bill further provides that if the city or city utility cannot reach an agreement for the retention of certain rights by a district or association, that the issues may be submitted to mediation.

HF498 is a companion to SF280, making new electrical installations on farms subject to the inspection and enforcement provisions  of Chapter 103, which includes requiring the submission of a request for inspection, payment of inspection fees, performance of an inspection, and condemnation and disconnection orders and appeal procedures

SF70 requiring American products in public projects is now SF420

New bills before funnel

HF388 –  The board of cosmetology sets the minimum physical requirements for schools of cosmetology arts and sciences (who knew?). HF388 would require a minimum floor space of 1,200 square feet for a school that teaches only one course of study each for nail technology, esthetics, or electrology.

HF385 – This bill would allow a county board of supervisors to have not more than three nonbinding questions related to the duties, powers, organization, or policies of the county submitted to the registered voters of that county at a general election.  My immediate reaction is that this could apply to rezoning applications.

SF325 – This bill would prohibit the bylaws of homeowners associations or of housing cooperatives from restricting individual owners from displaying political signs less than days prior to any election and days following any election, and cannot restrict the size of the sign to less than 750 square inches. It also would allow signs advocating for or against a specific issue to be displayed at any time.

Legislative action, week of February 25

HF359 is the successor to HSB121 – discussed here, regulating obscene material in response to the Mall Real Estate case.

HF342 makes amendments to Chapter 237A concerning child care.  Its companion bill is SF201.  It would increase the number of children allowed in child care homes under certain circumstances. Currently, a child care home that is not registered may provide child care to five or fewer children. The bill provides that a child care home in a “small community” (a city of less than 10,000 persons or a county of less than 10,000 persons) may provide child care for between six and eight children for up to three hours a day as long as a parent of each child signs a waiver. The bill also allows a child care home in a small community to provide child care for nine or 10 children for up to three hours a day if each parent signs a waiver and the child care home provides an additional employee during periods when the child care home provides care for nine or 10 children.

HF331 would amend Iowa Code 123.40.  It provides that the premises which had been covered by a liquor control license, wine permit, or beer permit that was revoked could not be relicensed for three years. Current law provides that the premises can be relicensed after one year.

HF330 is also related to liquor licenses.  This bill provides that a person or club holding a liquor license or retail wine or beer permit could not knowingly permit or engage in criminal activity in parking lots and areas adjacent to the licensed premises that are used by patrons of the liquor licensee or permittee. Current law limits this prohibition to criminal activity in parking lots and areas adjacent only to liquor licensees or permittees authorized to sell alcohol for consumption on the licensed premises. A person who violates this new provision would be subject to licensing sanctions and guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

HF328 would require an attorney representing a city or a part-time county attorney to disclose all conflicts the attorney has between the interests or matters of the city or county and those of the attorney’s other clients. It would require the attorney to complete an annual disclosure form provided by the judicial branch.  It would also require the attorney with a conflict to withdraw from representation of the city or county, as applicable, regarding the matter in which the conflict exists unless (1) written consent is received from the attorney’s client, and (2) the elected body adopts a resolution describing the conflict and giving consent to representation on the matter.

SF285 is the companion bill to HF122 regarding common interest communities, discussed here.

SF280 would make new electrical installations on farms subject to the inspection and enforcement provisions Chapter 103, which includes requiring the submission of a request for inspection, payment of inspection fees, performance of an inspection, and condemnation and disconnection orders and appeal procedures.

SF275 would create a manufactured housing program fund within IFA to further the goal of providing affordable housing to Iowans. The money in the fund would provide funding to financing agents or financial institutions to finance the purchase by an individual of a manufactured home that is in compliance with all applicable laws and standards applicable to manufactured homes and manufactured housing.

Week of Feb 18 – Bill that fixes Mall Real Estate case; other stuff

Recall that the Iowa Supreme Court issued its decision last July in the Mall Real Estate v. City of Hamburg case that essentially preempted local stand-alone ordinances (not tied to zoning) regulating live nude dancing.  Now the Iowa House of Representatives has introduced a fix for the problems created by that case.  HSB121 clarifies the definition of “material” to specifically exclude live nude dancing (and other things which I am too modest to present here) for purposes of what state law preempts local governments from regulating.  It also clarifies that local governments can enact stand-alone ordinances that will not be preempted by state law.

Also during the week of February 18:

HF268 was introduced as the successor to HF11 (eliminating Smart Planning).

HF307 would move Homeland Security and Emergency Management from the Department of Public Defense into its own department.

HF240 would require the Economic Development Authority to conduct a wireless communications mapping survey to determine areas with weak or nonexistent coverage, and to make recommendations on how to improve and expand coverage.

Bills introduced week of February 11

SF192 would allow the department of transportation or a board of supervisors to straighten, deepen, or otherwise improve any channel, river, stream, or other watercourse if a highway project results in a situation that might contribute to flooding in areas that are not part of the highway right-of-way. They will also be authorized to use eminent domain procedures for this purpose.

SF169 would require the department of natural resources to submit a regulatory fiscal impact on cities report to the governor and legislature by January 1, 2014. The report would describe the “probable quantitative and qualitative impact of each chapter of administrative rules adopted by the environmental protection commission, economic or otherwise, upon affected cities, including a description of the nature and amount of all of the different kinds of costs that would be incurred in complying with each chapter over a 10-year period.”

HF219 makes several modifications to eminent domain authority:

  • property listed on the state register of historic places shall not be removed from the register solely for the purpose of allowing the property to be acquired by condemnation unless the condemnation is undertaken by the department of transportation.
  • property on the state register of historic places may not be condemned unless a joint resolution authorizing the condemnation is approved by a vote of at least two-thirds of each house of the general assembly and signed by the governor. This does not apply to a condemnation by the department of transportation
  • it makes several changes to eminent domain for the development or creation of a lake, raising the bar to exercise eminent domain, and making a provision that if work has not commenced within two years the original owner shall be given the option to buy the property back.
  • requires a city proposing to condemn land outside the city limits – including for an urban renewal project – show that “viable alternatives do not exist within the city and the acquisition of the property is necessary.”
  • HF208 would create an urban-rural dialogue committee to improve collaborative efforts, including by reviewing existing programs administered by state agencies and by studying methods to improve awareness, understanding, and communication between the different types of communities. The committee would be headed by the department of agriculture and land stewardship, and include representatives from the department of natural resources, Iowa state university, and public members representing urban and rural communities.
  • HF184 would prohibit cities from regulating rental occupancy based on the familial status of the renters.  Successor to HSB 9.
  • Bills indroduced week of February 4

    HF122 would create the Iowa Common Interest Ownership Act, which would require a management structure (bylaws, boards, meetings, etc.) for “common interest communities” defined to include cooperatives under Code Chapter 499A and horizontal property regimes under 499C with 8 or more units.

    SF141 would reduce the minimum number of contiguous acres that are required for the establishment of a hunting preserve from 320 acres to 40 acres if the preserve is for game birds only. However, an application for a license to operate such a hunting preserve with an area from 40 – 320 acres must be accompanied by a game bird habitat plan approved by the DNR.  Before the operator’s license can be issued the DNR must be satisfied that the plan is being followed.

    Bills introduced the week of January 28

    HF107 provides that for property tax valuation purposes, residential property includes that portion of a building or structure situated on stories above the ground floor that is used for human habitation and a proportionate share of the land upon which the building or structure is situated, even if the use for human habitation is not the primary use of the building or structure.  Several caveats apply.  The bill allows an assessor to assign more than one classification to a parcel of property satisfying the requirements.

    HF87 pertains to 28E (intergovernmental) agreements between political subdivisions.  It would require that for agreements entered into after July 1, 2013 any disputes arising between parties must be submitted to mediation, then arbitration if necessary (rather than resort to litigation).

    SF98 would repeal the Iowa plumber, mechanical professional, and contractor licensing act. It would also eliminate language in Iowa Code 105.17 that provides that Chapter 105 supersedes and preempts all plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, hydronic, and contracting licensing provisions of cities and counties.

    SF94 In similar fashion to SF98, this bill would repeal Iowa Code chapter 103, providing for statewide licensure of electricians and electrical contractors. The effect would be to return to the system of administration and regulation of electricians and electrical contractors, and electrical inspections, by cities and counties in place prior to the enactment of Chapter 103.

    SF70 would require each contract for the construction of a public improvement made by a governmental unit to contain a provision requiring that the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used or supplied in the performance of the contract or any subcontract be manufactured in the United States. The bill provides definitions for “construction,” “manufactured in the United States,” and “public improvement.”  The requirement may be waived if the application of the requirement would be contrary to the public interest, that the products necessary for the public improvement are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality, or that the requirement would increase the cost of the contract by more than 5 percent.

    HSB75 would make several important revisions to Chapter 384 pertaining to special assessments.  I won’t provide all the details unless and until it moves further along in the process, but some highlights include:

    • It establishes definitions of “community benefit,” “area benefit,” and “individual benefit.”
    • Before initiating work on a public project for which a special assessment will be levied a city must adopt an ordinance setting forth the methodology and procedure to  be used in determining the amount of individual benefit, area benefit, and community benefit that will result from a public improvement and a description of how costs will be allocated to each category.
    • It allows a lot that is subject to a special assessment to be divided into two or more lots for assessment purposes on the request or consent of the property owner.
    • The planning, legal, administrative, engineering, and inspection costs for that portion of the public improvement that is a community benefit and all city employee salary costs associated with the public improvement are presumed to confer a community benefit.
    • if the project includes a street, the city must complete a traffic analysis that forecasts the amount of traffic attributable to each lot in the district vs. traffic generated by other sources, and gives parameters for use in making the forecasts.

    More new Iowa bills…anti-Agenda 21 reaches Iowa

    With HF66 the Iowa House has joined in the anti-Agenda 21 movement making its way across the country.   The bill would prohibit the state of Iowa or any of its political subdivisions from implementing or financially supporting the implementation of Agenda 21 if that implementation would infringe or restrict private property rights without also providing due process of law (the legal mechanisms now in place that accomplish the same objective are called the Takings and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions).  Subsection two of the bill would not allow cities or counties (or other political subdivisions of the state) to “expend any moneys, or receive moneys for contracting services, or provide or receive financial aid to or from those nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations as defined in Agenda 21.”  Presumably this is directed toward preventing cities and counties from membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) – Local Governments for Sustainability.

    We held a session on the anti-Agenda 21 movement – what it is; where it came from; what is going on in other states – at the APA-Iowa Annual Conference.  We will be putting a short article on the topic in the upcoming APA-Iowa Newsletter and posting it here at the same time.

    SF25 would require the City Development Board to approve a voluntary annexation by 4/5-majority if the county board of supervisors has stated an objection to the annexation.  It also would require any voluntary severance to be approved by a resolution of the county board of supervisors or by the city development board in order to become valid,  and would require the city development board to take into account each adopted city or county comprehensive plan that is or will be applicable to the territory, any applicable zoning ordinance for the territory, the stated reasons for the voluntary severance, and any other factors deemed relevant by the board.

    SF24 would require the holder of an NPDES non-stormwater permit to post a sign at the site.

    SF23 would remove the exemption for farm houses from building codes and county zoning codes.





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