2018 Legislative Session Delivers Wins and Losses

posted by Kerri Johannsen on Monday, June 18, 2018

The 2018 Legislative Session was a year of highs and lows, with hard-fought battles over protection of Iowa’s water and land and clean energy leadership. The Council did not win every round, but with our supporters we changed the direction of the conversation on many issues. Our presence at the Statehouse and our members’ support made a difference.

IEC members raised their voices in support of HF 631, allowing the DNR to increase hunting and fishing license fees for the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund and were successful!  Passage of this bill will mean more resources for the DNR to manage the habitat needed for hunting and fishing and that habitat maintenance will have a positive impact on water quality.  We are proud of our members for successfully stepping up in support of this effort!

Council members and our allies in the solar industry fought for and won preservation of the Solar Investment Tax Credit at status quo funding of $5 million per year.  The credit was slated for elimination in the “final” tax bill deal in the last days of Session.  IEC members and solar advocates fought back and the credit was restored in the bill that was ultimately passed and signed.

The Council also weigh in against repeal of Iowa’s popular and successful bottle deposit law and proposals to end the program were defeated in subcommittees in the House and Senate.

SSB 3078 would have completely eliminated Iowa’s nation-leading energy efficiency programs.  Even though great harm was done to these programs by SF 2311, as you’ll see below, the Council and our supporters successfully fought back against this extreme bill and won.

These were good wins. Unfortunately, the legislature also made some moves that will have serious negative consequences for Iowa’s natural resources and clean energy economy.

SF 2311 – Omnibus Energy Bill

SF 2311 started Session as a wish list from Iowa’s utility companies. At different points in the process, it contained provisions that would have allowed all utilities to discriminate against customers with renewable energy, raise rates with no IUB oversight, and make all energy efficiency programs completely optional, effectively ending them. Ultimately, though IEC and our partners were able to roll back some of the most extreme proposals, the legislature passed and Governor signed a bill that does serious damage to Iowa’s clean energy credibility. You can find the full summary of what was included in this bad energy bill here

SF 512 – Water Quality Bill

SF 512 was passed and signed by the Governor early in the Session. IEC’s legislative priorities included strong calls for robust water quality funding tied to a watershed approach with strong accountability for results.  SF 512 was not that bill and, at the time, IEC Executive Director Jennifer Terry called it “an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.” IEC will be closely watching implementation of the bill and will take at their word policymakers who vowed that this is just the beginning of water quality investments in Iowa.

HF 2491 - Cuts to Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP)

In spite of the many voices across Iowa calling for the legislature to fund REAP, it will receive only $9M for FY 2019 after legislators took the current $12M appropriation and diverted $3M to our woefully under-funded State Parks. This move is robbing Peter to pay Paul and it not a sustainable approach to funding either of these priorities. These cuts will impact local people and governments looking to invest in their natural capitol and improve quality of life in their communities.    

For more information on bills adopted this Session that will impact Iowa’s natural resources and clean energy leadership, see our final bill summary on our 2018 legislative session page.

  1. clean energy
  2. iowa legislature
  3. reap
  4. solar power
  5. solar tax credits
  6. water quality
  7. wind power

About The Author

Kerri Johannsen is Energy Program Director with the Iowa Environmental Council. She has over a decade of experience in energy policy, most recently serving as the Council’s Manager of Government Affairs, leading state-level legislative strategy.  She previously developed energy policy ... read more