2022 Iowa Legislative Session recap

By Anna Gray on June 1, 2022 in Blog

The 2022 legislative session wrapped up on May 25, and your voice made a difference for conservation! In addition to building support for natural resource funding, you halted legislation that would have restricted expansion of Iowa’s parks, trails and wildlife areas; protected landowners’ rights to receive a fair price for their property from the buyer of their choice; and saved important private land protection tools like the conservation tax credit. Below is a summary of the top conservation issues from this session.

Budget Items

Your consistent advocacy throughout the legislative session helped shape conservation policy and encourage funding for natural resources in the state budget.

  • Department of Natural Resource Administration: $12 million
  • Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP): $12 million
  • State Park Infrastructure: $5 million ($3 million increase)
  • State Recreational Trails: $2.5 million ($1 million increase)

Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

At the beginning of the year, Governor Reynolds and legislative leaders made clear that tax reform would be a central focus for the legislative session. The Governor, the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate each introduced tax bills — but only the Senate proposal included provisions to fund the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The legislature reached a consensus for tax reform, and on March 1 the Governor signed a tax plan into law without funding for the Trust Fund. Yet, legislative interest in funding the Trust remained strong and SSB 3157 was introduced as a revived attempt to fund the voter-approved Trust Fund. Unfortunately, the bill did not advance, leaving the Trust Funding empty and a remaining need for protected, consistent funding.

Conservation Contribution Tax Credit

The Charitable Conservation Contribution Tax Credit has been preserved as a valuable land protection tool. The tax credit is available to landowners who make a donation of land value for the purpose of conservation. The program has helped permanently protect more than 14,000 acres of natural and agricultural land across Iowa. This includes private land that is protected by conservation easements for agricultural uses, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty.

Landowner contributions to public open spaces (SF 2312)

Senate File 2312 was introduced in February as a proposal to cap the amount landowners could receive from the sale of their property to a county conservation board (CCB) or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). By restricting the amount that CCBs and the DNR can spend in expanding parks, trails and wildlife areas, the bill would have killed efforts to establish new public conservation and outdoor recreation land in Iowa. These caps would have impeded on private property rights of landowners to receive fair market value for their property from the buyer of their choice, while also denying the state tax credit for charitable bargain sales to CCBs or the DNR. The bill ignored any value of public lands — such as water quality, wildlife habitat, and flood mitigation — when determining land value. Your input was critical to halting SF 2312 and preventing any other bills that would hinder expansion and development of our parks, trails and wildlife areas.

Thank you for your support and advocacy throughout the legislative session! We hope you will join us in our continued advocacy. You can engage decision makers and strengthen the base of conservation champions by sharing your passion for the outdoors with legislators, local leaders, friends or family. Invite them for a tour of your favorite park or trail, tell them why conservation matters to you and ask them to use their voice for nature!