After months of uncertainty, Reynolds Administration releases schedule for Agency rules review
Iowa DNR will spend three years reviewing more than 200 chapters of Administrative Code; addressing AFO rules in year one
Following the January announcement of Governor Reynolds’ Executive Order 10, the Administration released the schedule for state agencies, boards, and commissions to review rules in their respective sections of Iowa Administrative Code. The unexpected Executive Order, signed on January 10, 2023, placed a moratorium on any new rulemaking and requires state agencies, boards, and commissions to conduct reviews, repeals, and re-adoption of all rules, as part of the Governor's larger government reorganization plan.
Administrative rules implement the laws enacted by the state legislature by describing the organization, procedure, or practices of a state agency, board, or commission. For example, if the legislature passed a law that created a grant program for Iowa schools to build rain gardens, the state agency administering the grant program would need to create rules for how that grant program operates, including the application process, distribution of funds, and reporting of outcomes. A list of the agencies, boards, and commissions with rulemaking authority and designated sections of Iowa Administrative Code can be found online.
Since 2012, state law has required agencies to conduct rule reviews on a five-year cycle. The reviews are intended to identify and update or eliminate rules that are "outdated, redundant, or inconsistent or incompatible" with state law or other agency rules. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources implements and enforces more than 200 chapters of Iowa Administrative Code. The DNR was in the middle of reviewing rules for animal feeding operations (AFOs) on its regular five-year cycle when the Governor’s moratorium was announced, including several draft rule changes on AFO siting and flood protection brought forward by IEC and partner efforts in recent years.
The new rule review schedule released by the administration will require DNR to repeal, rewrite, and implement those 200+ chapters of rules in the next three years. According to the schedule:
• in 2023, the agency will primarily focus on reviewing air quality, licenses and permits, and assistance program rules;
• this year DNR will also review Chapter 567-65, which contains rules for AFOs.
• DNR will review other rules related to water quality in 2024;
• DNR will review rules related to land quality in 2025.
More information about the review process, including the full timeline of agency reviews, is now online.
When the moratorium was announced earlier this year, IEC was especially disappointed that the new draft AFO rules, which had been send to the Governor's office for pre-clearance in December, were put in jeopardy by this executive order. The Council is pleased to see it now included in on the DNR's schedule in the first year and looks forward to continuing to work with DNR to update the AFO rules in a timely fashion. "We’re glad to see the DNR has prioritized moving forward on the AFO rule package this year," said Alicia Vasto, Water Program Director for the Iowa Environmental Council. "Our team and coalition partners have worked for almost two years on the latest round of updates to the AFO rules. We’d like to see those changes get over the finish line."