2024 Legislative Session: IEC's key issues, priorities, and resources
It may be hard to believe, but the 2024 legislative session is already underway. This is the second year of the 90th General Assembly, and it has arrived with a slew of new priorities and anticipated challenges. Republicans continue to enjoy the benefits of a Trifecta government – they control the Governor’s office, the Senate, and the House, and therefore control the legislative agenda.
Key issues currently identified include:
• More Education Reforms: Education standards, teacher pay, auditing Area Education Agencies/special education
• Additional Income Tax Reforms: Likely expediting the implementation of current income tax cuts
• Workforce: Aligning Iowa’s higher education offerings with needed occupations
• Implementation of Government Reforms: Cutting boards & commissions
Gov. Reynolds's budget is expected the first week of the 2024 session, which will provide insight as to how Republicans will approach the budget. Very small increases in state budgets are expected with stagnant revenues.
IEC’s Clean Water and Land Stewardship Program has several legislative priorities this session. Some will look familiar while others are new:
• Expand the list of tools counties can use to mitigate flood damage by including natural infrastructure options, such as floodplain reconnection and wetland restoration. Bills were introduced in the House and Senate last year that we support – HF 448 and SSB 1052. Check out our new factsheet on the benefits of natural infrastructure.
• Fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.
• Conduct a 10-year review and update of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
• Maintain local stormwater management tools to prevent erosion, reduce flash flooding, and protect community stormwater infrastructure. Oppose SF 455, which was introduced in 2023.
Updated AFO rules see major change; watch for IEC Action Alert this month
In November, the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) moved forward rules governing animal feeding operation (AFO) siting and manure management. The rules package was pre-cleared by the Governor’s office after stronger provisions for facilities sited in vulnerable karst terrain were removed.
IEC learned of these changes with less than 2 full business days before the EPC meeting, and had to pay for an open records request to find out when the karst provisions were removed.
The DNR will hold public hearings on February 14 and 19 for the proposed rules. Public comments are being accepted until February 23. IEC staff is currently drafting comments in response to the modifications. You can submit your own comments now or watch for an Action Alert from IEC next week to utilize our comments.
Drought pushes Osceola to consider extreme measures for drinking water
After three years of extreme drought, the City of Osceola’s primary drinking water source, West Lake, is 6-feet below necessary levels to sustain current water draws.
Osceola’s residents, as well as rural Iowans relying on the Southern Iowa Rural Water Association which also draws water from West Lake, have been asked to transition to using bottled water.
The city has considered several options, including a two-year $16.5-million-dollar proposal to treat its wastewater for drinking water usage.
If approved, Osceola would become the first municipality in Iowa to use treated wastewater as part of their municipal supply. This transition would help improve the water quality of West Lake, as the wastewater treatment facility must adhere to new state permit requirements.
Photo courtesy of Osceola Water Works
Federal Funding Opportunities
The Environmental Protection Network, a partner at the Heartland Environmental Justice Center where IEC is also involved, recently provided updates on federal funding opportunities, largely from the Inflation Reduction Act.
This funding provides opportunities for communities in Iowa that have been traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised to make meaningful environmental change.
The EPA recently announced $30.7 million for Water Systems in Small and Rural Communities, with funding for technical assistance to provide communities with tools and training for their safe drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. Applications must be received by February 2 for consideration.
Photo courtesy of EPN
Save the Date: 2024 Environmental Advocacy Day at the Capitol
Each year, IEC hosts advocates, organizations, and legislators from across the state at the Iowa State Capitol Rotunda for Environmental Advocacy Day. IEC's Environmental Advocacy Day is scheduled for Monday, February 26, 2024, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. During Advocacy Day, you'll have the chance to talk with Iowa legislators, network with partners and allies, and meet other Iowans engaged in the work of improving policies to clean our land and water and grow renewable energy.
Tabling at the event is free for IEC member organizations, with minimal costs for non-member organizations. Registration will open soon!
Iowa Environmental Council
505 Fifth Ave., Suite 850
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317
515-244-1194 | email@example.com