State Capitol Report 
Issue 1 |
March 18, 2018   
District Leaders, Be Loud!! 
Tourism Funding and DRAM Reform  
Need Your Help!
As you'll read in the story below, we are nearing the closing stretch of the 2018 Legislative Session.  Important decisions are now being made.  Please take a moment to weigh in with your legislators IN SUPPORT of tourism funding and the DRAM Shop Reform Bill ( SF 2169 /HF 2391).

To find out who your legislators are, click HERE 
To find a list of the Representatives, click HERE   
To Register Your Opinion with the Governor's Office, click HERE
For More Information about DRAM, go to the Iowa Restaurant Association's DRAM Toolkit HERE.  
Legislative Session Update

March Madness Indeed
Week Ten of the 2018 session of the 87th General Assembly proved to be very eventful, much more so than the typical second funnel week. Everyone entered the building Monday morning prepared for a crazy week, but were shocked when the Senate Majority Leader announced his immediate resignation. The news ate up the first half of the week and put a pinch on the Legislature's ability to clear very many bills through the second funnel deadline on March 16th. (The second funnel is a deadline by which any non-tax or spending bill needs to have been passed out of a policy committee in the opposite chamber from where it was introduced in order to stay alive for the rest of session.)
Senate Leadership
Now-former Senator and Majority Leader Bill Dix was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010. He previously served five terms in the House. Dix led the Senate Republican caucus since 2013 and was largely credited with leading them into the majority in the 2016 election, after which he was selected as Majority Leader. In that role, he was one of the top three most powerful people in the Iowa Capitol, along with Governor Kim Reynolds and Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer.
News of Dix's retirement was followed by an announcement from Senate Republicans that they would select a new Majority Leader in a meeting on Wednesday morning. In that meeting, they determined that Senate President Jack Whitver of Ankeny would move up into the Senate Majority Leader position. Whitver is succeeded as Senate President by Senator Charles Schneider of West Des Moines, the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and former Majority Whip. Senator Amy Sinclair from Allerton has been promoted to Majority Whip after having been an assistant majority leader.
Another Special Election
Since Dix's seat has been vacated during a legislative session, there is a compressed timeline for filling the seat. A special election to fill the Senate District 25 seat has been scheduled by the Governor for April 10. Democrat Tracy Freese, who planned to challenge Dix in November, will run in the special election against Annette Sweeney, a former Iowa Republican Representative. This is the seventh special election of this two-year General Assembly.
Remaining Agenda
The leadership bombshell in the Senate threw the funnel week schedule further into chaos, so many bills that faced an uncertain future just ended up being thrown overboard. How the Senate's priorities change in the final weeks remains uncertain, but with Monday, March 19th, being Session Day 71 of the 100-day session, it's looking increasingly likely that the legislative focus may narrow to the budget and little else, possibly some tax reform.
Budget Update
The one thing the Legislature MUST do before leaving town for the year is the budget. That includes both passing bills to fund the next fiscal year (FY 2019 which starts July 1, 2018) and making adjustments, if necessary, to ensure that FY 2018 does not end with a deficit. As you know, there has been an ongoing discussion since December about a deappropriations bill that would cut FY 2018 expenditures by as high as nearly $50 million.
On March 9, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met to establish their updated revenue estimates for FYs 2018 and 2019. The REC added $33 million to the balance sheet for 2018 and about $207 million for 2019. According to the Legislative Services Agency, this still means the State is looking at a FY 2018 shortfall of $3.6 million. The recent volatility of revenue estimates means the Legislature and Governor are still likely to deappropriate money from FY 2018 though the amount is anybody's guess.
This week, we expect to see the budget discussion heating up. There will likely be a decision made about deappropriations, budget targets will be released so that appropriations subcommittees can begin assembling their budgets, and we should have a better sense as to what the Legislature will attempt to do with tax reform.  
Property Tax Backfill
to Local Governments
In the last edition, we discussed the forward progress of legislation in the Senate (Senate File 2081) which would phase out the $152 million backfill out over three years (really two years - going to two-thirds, one-third and then gone in Year 3). This legislation is available for consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee for the rest of the session, but more importantly, could be tucked into other legislation.
This past week, backfill scaledown legislation (HSB 678) was also introduced in the House and assigned to a subcommittee consisting of Representatives Grassley, Highfill and Hall. The House bill would cut the backfill by about a third in FY 2019, and by $25 million per year during FYs 2020-2022, leaving it at $25 million per year thereafter.
Advocates for the backfill need to be sure they are vocal about the issue, and ESPECIALLY about not affecting the upcoming year . Both of these bills start in FY 2019, the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018, for which local governments have already certified their budgets.
The Iowa League of Cities has a one-page explanation to help you with reaching out to legislators in support of the backfill. You can download it HERE. Additionally, you can find a table showing how all the backfill dollars are distributed by going HERE.
The Election Outlook
In addition to being the second funnel deadline, March 16th was also the filing deadline for legislative candidates to file their papers for the November election. One development that has become abundantly clear is that the next General Assembly will include a lot of new faces due to a large number of retirements (not including, of course, any incumbents that are unsuccessful in their efforts to win another term).
Here is the list of retirements, as of the Friday filing deadline:
  • Sen. Rick Bertrand, R (Senate District 7) of Sioux City.
  • Sen. Matt McCoy, D (Senate District 21) of Des Moines is running for Polk County Supervisor. He has served 22 years in the Iowa Senate.
  • Sen. Wally Horn, D (Senate District 35) of Cedars Rapids. Sen. Horn is the longest continually serving state legislator in Iowa's history. He is finishing his ninth four-year term in the Iowa Senate. Before that, he served five two-year terms in the Iowa House.
  • Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D (Senate District 37) of Coralville. Sen. Dvorsky has served 24 years in the Iowa Senate.
  • Sen. Mark Chelgren, R (Senate District 41) of Ottumwa.
  • Rep. Chuck Holz, R (House District 5) of LeMars.
  • Rep. Helen Miller, D (House District 9) of Ft. Dodge.
  • Rep. Ralph Watts, R (House District 19) of Adel.
  • Rep. Clel Baudler, R (House District 20) of Greenfield.
  • Rep. Greg Heartsill, R (House District 28) of Chariton.
  • Rep. Chris Hagenow, R (House District 43) is moving to Rep. Ralph Watts district (HD19). Rep. Hagenow is the Republican Majority Leader in the House.
  • Rep. Rob Taylor, R (House District 44) of West Des Moines.
  • Rep. Chip Baltimore, R (House District 47) of Boone.
  • Rep. Kristi Hager, R (House District 56) of Waukon.
  • Rep. Ken Rizer, R (House District 68) of Marion.
  • Rep. Todd Taylor, D (House District 70) of Cedar Rapids is running for the seat that will be vacated by Sen. Wally Horn.
  • Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R (House District 75) of Mt. Auburn.
  • Rep. Guy VanderLinden, R (House District 79) of Oskaloosa.
  • Rep. Larry Sheets, R (House District 80) of Moulton.
  • Rep. Jerry Kearns, D (House District 83) of Keokuk.
  • Rep. Dave Heaton, R (House District 84) of Mt. Pleasant.
  • Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D (House District 99) of Dubuque is running for Congress against U.S. Rep. Rod Blum.

Bills Being Tracked for TFI

This is a list of the bills being tracked for TFI.  The online bill list is updated constantly, just go to  

Nonreversion/Reallocation of State Funds
Summary | Details 
House Appropriations Committee 
Allows state agencies to keep up to 10% of the funds appropriated that are unencumbered or unobligated at the close of the fiscal year (funds won't revert).
Sales Tax Collection
Summary | Details 
House Ways & Means Committee 
Amends definition of "retailer maintaining a place of business in this state" for the collection of sales tax from out-of-state retailers.
Hotel/Motel Tax Exemption
Summary | Details 
House Unfinished Business Calendar
Extends the length of a room rental to qualify for the state and local hotel/motel taxes from 31 consecutive days to 90 or more consecutive days.
Pesticide Application in Lakes
Summary | Details 
Senate Floor
Prohibits pesticide application in lakes under certain circumstances.
Fair Concessions Payment
Summary | Details 
Sent to Governor
Allows a participant in an amusement concession at a fair to pay by credit card.
Water Quality Programs
Summary | Details 
Senate Floor
Makes changes to existing water quality programs.
Sports Betting
Summary | Details 
House Ways & Means Committee 
Authorizes gambling licensees to conduct sports betting.
Bottle Bill Repeal and Replace
Summary | Details 
House Ways & Means Committee 
Repeals the beverage containers control law and replaces it with new recycling, litter control, and community enhancement programs.
The WISE Solution for Water Quality
Summary | Details 
House Ways & Means Committee 
A permanent $180-200 million/year that flows into the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, at least 60% of which would have to be used for specific water quality.
State Park Fees and Privileges
Summary | Details 
House Unfinished Business Calendar
Authorizes DNR to establish fees for camping, use of rental facilities, and other special privileges at state parks and recreation areas under the DNR's jurisdiction.
Hunting, Fishing, Fur Harvesting Fees
Summary | Details 
Senate Floor
Increases certain fees and reallocates certain revenues related to hunting, fishing, and fur harvesting. Successor to HF574.
Property Tax Backfill
Summary | Details 
House Appropriations Committee 
Phases out the roughly $150 million property tax backfill, starting in FY 2019 (which starts July 1, 2018).  Cuts one-third ($50 million) from the backfill in Year One and then $25 million every year thereafter.
Forest Reservation Property Tax Exemption
Summary | Details 
Senate Ways & Means Committee 
Lowers the property tax exemption for forest reservations.
Raceway Facility Construction Sales Tax Rebate
Summary | Details 
Senate Ways & Means Committee 
Makes changes to sales tax rebates for construction at certain raceway facilities.
State General Fund Expenditure Limitation
Summary | Details 
Senate Appropriations Committee 
Revises calculations for the general fund expenditure limitation, increases reserve fund balances, creates a safety net fund, creates an Iowa personal income tax rate reduction fund, and provides for related state personal income tax rate reductions.
Commercial and Industrial Property Tax Replacement Claims
Summary | Details 
Senate Appropriations Committee 
Eliminates the appropriation for commercial and industrial property tax replacement claims.
FY18 Deappropriation
Summary | Details 
House Floor
Cuts the current fiscal year (FY18) budget by $50.1 million, about $20 million more than the Governors' recommendation.  Cuts regional tourism marketing, skilled worker and job creation fund, hawk-i, autism support program fund, Regents universities, community colleges, vocational rehabilitation, autism support program, human services,
Agriculture and Natural Resources Programs
Summary | Details 
Senate Ways & Means Committee 
Amends several agriculture and natural resources programs.
DRAM Shop Revision
Summary | Details 
House Unfinished Business Calendar
Limits the liability of an alcoholic beverage licensee or permittee for certain alcohol-related injuries.
Vessel Registration and Title
Summary | Details 
Senate Ways & Means Committee 
Modifies provisions relating to the registration and titling of vessels.
Alcoholic Beverage Control
Summary | Details 
Makes changes related to alcoholic beverage control and matters under the purview of the alcoholic beverages division of the department of commerce.
Amusement Concessions
Summary | Details 
Assigned to Committee
Increases the maximum allowable retail value for any prize awarded for an amusement concession.
State Agency Restrictions
Summary | Details 
Senate Unfinished Business Calendar
Prohibits a state agency from implementing or enforcing any standard, requirement, or threshold unless explicitly required or permitted by a state statute or a federal statute or regulation.
Senate Tax Reform Package
Summary | Details 
House Ways & Means Committee 
The Senate's tax reform package.
State Park Fees
Summary | Details 
Senate Floor
Allows DNR to establish fees for camping and rental facilities at state parks and recreation areas.
Hotel Sanitation/Food Establishment Regulations
Summary | Details 
Senate Floor
Changes requirements for the hotel sanitation and food inspection.
Water Quality/Wastewater Treatment
Summary | Details 
Modifies existing wastewater treatment program, establishes new water quality programs, and creates a water service excise tax and sales tax exemption.
Tax Reform
Summary | Details 
Senate Ways & Means Committee 
Makes changes to income taxes, the sales and use taxes and local option sales tax, the hotel and motel excise tax, the automobile rental excise tax, the Iowa educational savings plan trust, and the Iowa ABLE savings plan trust.
Your Tourism Advocacy Toolbox