Your voice made a difference

By Anna Gray on March 7, 2019 in Blog

HF542 hearing

Thank you.  
When two bills were introduced in the Iowa legislature last week that threatened conservation and outdoor recreation in Iowa, you sprang into action — calling, emailing and visiting legislators, then packing two subcommittee hearings on Monday with hundreds of people opposed to the bills. We heard from multiple legislators that this was the most they had ever heard form their constituents about a piece of legislation.
Thanks to your efforts, House File 542 was stopped. This bill would have been disastrous to the future of parks, trails and wildlife areas in Iowa. Not only did it attack public lands, it made it harder for private landowners to do conservation on their own land.
We would like to thank House Natural Resources subcommittee members Rep. Robert Bacon, Rep. Tom Jeneary and Rep. Scott Ourth, and we encourage you to thank them as well. None of them had a part in writing or introducing the bill, but they listened to a diverse range of voices, and they declined to move the bill on to the full committee. With the legislative “funnel” ending this week, the bill is effectively dead.
Senate Study Bill 1221 is still alive, but your advocacy helped to improve this bill immensely. The original bill eliminated the Iowa Tax Credit for the Charitable Contribution of Conservation Lands and ended the use of State Revolving Fund loans for public land acquisition. The bill passed out of subcommittee on a 2-1 vote on Monday. In the full Natural Resources and Environment committee meeting on Tuesday, the bill was amended to preserve the tax credit and allow the use of SRF on any land acquired before July 1, 2019. The bill then passed on an 8-5 vote and will go to the full Senate.
We still believe the use of SRF for public water quality projects is a worthwhile program. We have also confirmed that the use of SRF for land acquisition does not jeopardize other viable uses of the fund, which some proponents of the bill argued. The bill will likely be debated in the full Senate in the coming weeks, and we’ll continue to work to improve or stop this legislation.
What happened at the Capitol this week is a testament to your advocacy for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. We are looking forward to the day that we are fighting FOR a bill that benefits conservation for all Iowans, instead of battling bills that divide us. And we know you’ll be right there with us. Thank you.
Anna Gray
INHF Public Policy Director