As states across the country struggled with frigid temperatures that strained power grids, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a disaster emergency proclamation designed to protect Iowa’s heating fuel supply chain. On Monday, she temporarily suspended regulations limiting crew and driver hours of service for those hauling diesel, natural gas, propane, and other heating fuels. The proclamation also eases restrictions on oversize and overweight fuel loads. It remains in effect through March 17. Reynolds signed a previous proclamation last week, relaxing propane transporters’ hours of service restrictions.
While the bitter cold slowed lawmakers’ work at the start of the week, both chambers advanced high-profile legislation. On Wednesday, the Senate passed a K-12 funding compromise that cleared the House last week. SF 269 would increase school spending by 2.4%. The Senate had initially proposed a 2.2% hike, while the House and the governor favored a 2.5% increase. The bill passed the Senate on a party-line vote, 31-18. It now goes to Governor Reynolds for consideration.
Also in the Senate, the Commerce Committee approved a bill that would lay the groundwork for $450 million in broadband expansion funding over three years. The measure, SF 390 is one of the governor’s top priorities this session. A House subcommittee passed its version of the bill, HSB 133 on February 10, making it eligible for consideration by the full Information Technology Committee. Neither piece of legislation includes specific funding figures.
On the House side, the Economic Growth Committee unanimously approved a set of housing tax credits proposed by Governor Reynolds in HF 582. This far-reaching legislation would create a new $15 million low-income housing credit; double the workforce housing credit to $50 million a year; and increase grayfield/brownfield credits to $20 million annually. HF 582 would also remove the real estate transfer tax cap, freeing up to $5 million for county housing trust funds. Finally, the measure would create a new disaster housing assistance fund and include post-pandemic relief for businesses and banks through a downtown loan guarantee program. HF 582 now moves to the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee for further consideration. A Senate version of the bill, SF 295 passed the Local Government Committee earlier this month and has moved on to the Ways & Means Committee.
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