IEC Statement on IWILL and Invest in Iowa
on Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Water and Land News
The Iowa Environmental Council is disappointed there will not be an opportunity this legislative session to advance efforts to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund . Governor Reynolds has chosen not to reintroduce the Invest in Iowa Act this year, which would have enacted the sales tax increase necessary to fund the Trust.
"Iowans voted overwhelmingly in 2010 to create the Trust, also known as Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL). Since then, the legislature has chosen not to raise the state sales tax, leaving the fund empty for over a decade. Gov. Reynolds’s introduction of the Invest in Iowa Act in the 2020 legislative session was the closest the Trust has been to being funded since its creation," said Ingrid Gronstal Anderson, IEC Water Program Director.
Over the past year, the importance of outdoor recreation, access to public spaces, and addressing water quality in the state has been thrown into sharp relief. Record numbers of Iowans visited state and local parks, purchased outdoor recreation equipment, and used trails and other outdoor recreation infrastructure. Rural communities are in need of revitalization, and businesses are relying on outdoor recreation and natural spaces for recruitment and retention of talent. The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund would provide a substantial increase of essential funding in all of these areas.
IEC acknowledges the 2021 legislative session will be unique given the ongoing public health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on Iowans across the state and the many pandemic-related issues the legislature must address. The logistics of legislative operations and public input themselves will also be difficult this session given the ongoing risk of Covid-19 transmission.
While IEC had looked forward to working on IWILL this session, questions remained about certain provisions of the Governor’s bill language. The Invest in Iowa Act made several significant changes to the original IWILL language passed in 2010. Last session, IEC proposed amendments during a Senate subcommittee meeting to address areas of concern with the language, particularly changes that would have limited opportunities for funding outdoor recreation and trails opportunities.
IEC plans to continue working toward passage of IWILL funding and preserving the integrity of the original funding formula even though Invest in Iowa will not be introduced in the 2021 legislative session. To learn more about this work, visit fundthetrust.org.
- public health
- water quality