There was a lot of tension inside the State Capitol this week and it was not because of any legislation. It was because of heavy rain and melting snow which has rivers and streams all over the state overflowing.
Most of the rain fell in Western and Northwestern Iowa, so lawmakers from our area were on the phone frequently throughout Wednesday checking on conditions back home.
By Thursday morning flooding concerns were emerging in Central and Eastern Iowa as well. The snow here in Des Moines is gone but it is what will be coming from the north that has everyone concerned.
We visited with the Governor on Thursday morning about conditions in Northwest Iowa. She is well aware of what is going on and prepared to assist in any way needed.
This week both the House and Senate spent a lot of time debating and passing bills out of their respective chambers. We passed several dozen bills here in the House and they now await Senate action. Most were non-controversial, but a couple took several hours each to complete. Committee work will resume next week.
On Wednesday evening, the House passed the extension of the sales tax for school infrastructure and the bill now goes to the Governor for her signature.
This is one of the most important bills we will pass this year. It provides schools with resources to update facilities, improve security and upgrade classroom technology.
The bill also provides local residents with significant property tax relief. It is a win-win for schools and taxpayers. The sales tax is extended until 2050 and was a priority for many education groups throughout the state.
I supported the legislation.
On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, both Chambers of the Iowa Legislature approved Senate File 519 by bi-partisan votes — 41 ayes to 8 nays in the Senate and 65 aye to 32 nays in the House.
SF 519 creates new agricultural production facility trespass provisions that specifies certain offenses relating to agricultural production operations that cause economic damage or other injury are illegal. Those offenses include sabotage, adulterations, and destruction of property such as agricultural crops or animals.
The measure provides for a criminal offense of agricultural production facility trespass that involves the use of deception to obtain access to a facility not open to the public with an intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the facility’s operation, property or persons.
The offense may include obtaining by deception with intent to harm the operation, property, or person.
The bill is similar to aspects of an Idaho law that has withstood a federal court challenge.
This legislation is of great interest to Iowa’s livestock and food processing industry as fraudulent trespass could result in the introduction of catastrophic animal diseases such as foot and mouth or African Swine Fever.
Either disease could cause billions of dollars of economic damage to Iowa farms, businesses and employees. It would likely be ten to fifty times larger impact than the avian influenza outbreak of a few years ago.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is P.O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at email@example.com.