[Author: Will Rogers, 05.17 | Keywords: Governmental Affairs, Iowa Legislative]
The first session of the 87th General Assembly of the Iowa Legislature adjourned on Saturday, April 22, at 7:18 a.m. We are delighted to announce several legislative successes that the Association was able to accomplish in conjunction with our industry allies.
Equipment Rental Theft
On April 10, Senate File 403 – the “Equipment Rental Theft” bill – passed in the Iowa House by a vote of 75-21. This bill makes it a crime to misappropriate equipment rental property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property without their consent. We want to thank State Senator Jeff Edler (Marshall), State Representative Steve Carlin (Woodbury), leadership in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate, members of the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, the American Rental Association and its members, and our contract lobbying team for their efforts in helping SF 403 pass.
Workers Compensation Reform
The Iowa Legislature passed House File 518, a sweeping Workers Compensation Reform bill that 1) prevents attorneys from taking fees from injured workers when the employer was voluntarily giving benefits;
2) ends the burden on the employer to demonstrate that intoxicated workers incurred injuries as a result
of the intoxication; and 3) ends an individual’s ability to receive workers compensation while receiving unemployment insurance.
Transportation of Farm Equipment Clarified
State lawmakers passed Senate File 406, which clarifies the rights of farmers when transporting an implement of husbandry while being carried on a motor vehicle between fields, locations for repair, or locations for storage. Under Iowa Code Chapter 321.463, implements of husbandry being transported are exempt from permit requirements so long as it has the required lighting and flags, and is restricted to ½ hour before sunrise and ½ hour after sunset. The bill sought to add clarification for local law enforcement by adding the additional language.
The state legislature did not pass legislation that would couple state tax law regarding Section 179 with the federal provision for Tax Year 2016. In part, lawmakers were unwilling to provide any tax incentives after de-appropriating over $100 million dollars from the state budget in their first week of action on the hill. There is some indication that state lawmakers intend to make Section 179 coupling permanent for future tax years.
Fully Controlled-Access Facilities
It was brought to our attention earlier this year that certain farm equipment is restricted from using fully controlled-access facilities (highway) in Iowa if the equipment does not meet certain requirements. A fully controlled-access facility is a four-lane divided highway with access connections at interchanges with selected public roads only and by prohibiting crossings at grade or direct access at driveway connections. The roads are typically identified with signage that includes minimum and maximum speed limits and can be found on official I-DOT road maps represented by a divided red line between two exits.
The Association is preparing in advance of next year’s session to make changes to the Iowa Code that would allow farm equipment to utilize fully controlled-access facilities, so long as operators maintain the minimum speed limit, pull onto the shoulder to allow faster traffic to pass, and display warning flags and a flashing light.
Earlier this year, the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against 10 rural water districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties was dismissed in federal court. Subsequently, lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would have dismantled the Des Moines Water Works Board and created in its place a regional political subdivision that would be comprised of board members appointed by the mayors of the communities that rely on the Des Moines Water Works for drinking water. No additional legislation was passed to address the concerns with the water quality of Iowa’s lakes and rivers. Instead, Iowa continues to rely on voluntary improvements by farmers to curb the amount of nitrates leeching into surface water runoff.
As it has been said before, elections have consequences. The future of our state government and the policies it creates are affected by less than 20 individuals in leadership roles at the statehouse. We need to make sure we send a message to those leaders who supported the Association by making PAC contributions to their re-election efforts. Your contribution to the Association through PAID-PAC (Political Action Iowa Dealers – Political Action Committee) is money well spent and helps us develop the policies needed to assure that our industry remains strong.
PAID-PAC contribution forms were mailed out in mid-April. I encourage you consider making a contribution and thank you for your past and continued support.
Save the Date!
The 2017 Iowa Legislative Summer Meeting will be held Thursday, August 10, at the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston, Iowa. All members are encouraged to attend and participate.
About the Author
For more than nine years, Will has advocated for our members on both the state and national legislative fronts and has led I-NEDA’s educational efforts. In his free time, Will enjoys “dabbling” in politics, gardening, spending time with his wife and daughter, and managing his ever-growing collections (U.S. postage stamps, beer cans, comic books…).