During the eighth week of the legislative session our focus was on passing bills out of committee that we wish to see continue through the legislative process.
The eighth week of session is the first funnel week of the year. The funnel deadline requires bills to be out of their originating chamber’s committee in order to be considered for the rest of the year. This requires legislators to focus on bills that they consider to be a priority. That is why this week, the majority of senators’ time was spent in subcommittee and committee meetings.
I had the chance to work on several important bills last week. In the Natural Resources Committee, I ran Senate File 290, concerning hunting restrictions established for a wild goose refuge area. This bill states that hunting restrictions on refuge areas shall not apply to a person hunting on private land that is adjacent and with the scope of the refuge area. As amended, the bill would prohibit landowners from allowing hunting for profit on their property if their property lies within the boundaries of the “closed” area surrounding a refuge.
In the Natural Resources Committee, we also considered Senate File 59, also known as the “bottle bill.” This bill increases the handling fee from one cent to two cents per container on returned bottles. The original distributor would pay the extra penny. The additional cent will give redemption centers more money to stay in business or get back in business. When discussing this bill, the issue of sanitation was brought up because currently used bottles and cans are returned to grocery and convenience stores.
This bill would allow grocery and convenience stores the ability to opt out of being a point of collection for used bottles and cans. If grocery and convenience stores were to opt out of the redemption process, sanitation will improve and volume to the redemption centers should increase, increasing their profitability and allowing them to stay in business.
A big topic for discussion in the Natural Resources committee was Senate Study Bill 1221. As amended, this bill is very narrowly focused on one fundamental question: Should a private entity be allowed to access low-interest money (.25 percent to .5 percent) from the State Revolving Loan Fund to buy land? The SRF has been in existence for 30 years and is a valuable tool used by cities, counties, sanitary districts, watershed organizations, soil and water conservation districts and others to finance projects related to water-quality projects, wastewater treatment, drinking water, sewer rehabilitation, storm water improvements, and other non-point source projects.
The focus of this bill is to ensure that the fund continues to serve its original purpose. This bill does not reduce public land by one acre, not does it restrict the State of Iowa, County Conservation Boards, or any other local government from purchasing land.
Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, represents District 49 in the Iowa Senate.