Announcing Our 2017 Legislative Priorities

posted by Kerri Johannsen on Friday, December 16, 2016

With only a few weeks until the 2017 Iowa General Assembly gavels in, we have been working tirelessly with our members, our board, and together as a staff to establish our legislative priorities for the 2017 Legislative session. This session will present new challenges for our priorities; however, we strongly believe all of our priorities will greatly benefit the health and safety of Iowans, promote strong, healthy business and tourism opportunities, and protect Iowa’s natural resources for generations to come.

Improve Iowa’s Watersheds

IEC is calling for long-term, sustainable funding to address water quality and quantity challenges in Iowa. We support funding the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a constitutionally-protected source of dollars to be set aside from the first 3/8 cent of the next increase in the state sales tax to fund water quality and outdoor recreation.  Sixty-three percent Iowa of voters approved creation of the Trust in 2010. Although it has been more than 6 years since Iowa voters demonstrated overwhelming support at the polls, the Trust has never been funded.  IEC strongly supports funding the Trust.  We will also look at other proposals for new funding for water quality to determine if they are consistent with our priorities.

For the Trust and other water quality funding, we will advocate for funding to be tied to goals, timelines, monitoring, measurement, and transparency.  The Council recommends that a board or commission be established to oversee implementation of a statewide, coordinated, watershed approach for investing in Iowa’s water resources. This structure will ensure that taxpayers get a good return on investment for their tax dollars while giving local watersheds the flexibility they need to tackle their own unique challenges.

Improve Iowa’s Economy and Environment Through Renewable Energy Tax Incentives

IEC will support expansion and extension of renewable energy tax credits.  For the past ten years, the Council has led efforts to create, improve, and expand Iowa’s tax incentives for wind and solar energy. These efforts have paid off year after year, helping make Iowa a national leader in wind energy and greatly expanding investments in solar energy.

The Iowa Legislature created the upfront solar tax incentive in 2012. Through 2015, these tax incentives have resulted in 1,821 solar projects and a total investment of an impressive $85.4 million.  In the 2017 session, IEC will support increasing the annual solar program cap from $5 million to $7.5 million to help meet demand and further spur solar growth across the state.

Iowa’s production tax credit provides 1.5 cents/kWh over a ten-year period for energy produced by wind, solar and other renewable technologies. IEC will support legislation to add more capacity for solar and extend eligibility deadlines for two years for wind and solar, encouraging more renewable energy projects in Iowa communities. IEC will also focus on how to build on the success of our current policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency and make sure those policies are not weakened or not rolled back.

Protecting Water Quality in Iowa’s Karst Region

IEC is reaching out to leaders from Northeast Iowa to offer support at the Legislature for efforts to protect at-risk surface and groundwaters.  This part of Iowa is located on karst terrain, which contains bedrock that is easily dissolved by water flowing above and below ground. Groundwaters and surface waters in this area are highly vulnerable to contamination as fractured bedrock, sinkholes, disappearing streams and caves allow contaminated surface water to flow quickly into aquifers, springs and streams with no soil to act as a filter.

This area of Iowa is also home to many of Iowa’s treasured recreational waterways; and significant local and state resources have been invested to restore and sustain aquatic life and recreation in these waters.

These are ambitious priorities, and we will need YOUR help in the coming months to see success. Here’s what you can do right now:

1.  Stay in touch and informed with us by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. We will be posting current information daily.
2.  Share your story! How does clean water and/or clean energy in Iowa affect you and your family? Stories that answer these questions are crucial in getting our message through to legislators when accompanied with facts. Email your stories to our communications director, Emily Holley at holley@iaenvironment.org!
3.  Contact your legislators!  Your state legislators work for you!  Send them an email or letter or give them a call before session begins on January 9 to let them know that their constituents’ priorities are Iowa’s water, land and clean energy economy.

Mark your calendars for March 29th and plan to join us at the Capitol for Environmental Lobby and REAP Day! More details to come!

  1. healthy lands
  2. iowa legislature
  3. land stewardship
  4. nitrate pollution
  5. phosphorus pollution
  6. reap
  7. solar power
  8. solar tax credits
  9. sustainability
  10. toxic algae
  11. water quality
  12. wind tax credits

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 with t ... read more