Capitol Update for the Week of May 10, 2013

New Specialty License Plate Legislation Passes

Senate File 371 passed the House this week and replaces the current system for creating, reviewing, and issuing specialty license plates. The bill allows an owner of a vehicle which is required to display registration plates to request special registration plates which have a reserved spot for an organization decal.

If the special plates are requested for initial registration, there is no additional charge. However, if a vehicle owner is replacing a current set of plates, they are subject to a $5 replacement plate fee and must surrender their current plates.

Applicants can apply for personalized specialty plates but will be subject to additional fees ($25) just like regular personalized plates. Personalized specialty plates can only have a combination of 5 characters on the plate.

For an organization to qualify for the special decal to be placed on the plate, they must have 200 members in Iowa and must meet the following criteria:
• The main activity or interest of the organization serves the community, contributes to the welfare of others, and is not discriminatory in its purpose, nature, activity or name.
• Organization doesn’t promote a product or brand name available to consumers.
• Organization is a non-profit 501(c) and is authorized to do business in Iowa.

The department can accept an application for a group of nonprofit organizations with a common purpose as long as they meet all the qualifications from above. An
organization wishing to issue a decal needs to provide to the DOT:
• A copy of the articles of incorporation of their organization
• A copy of their charter or by-laws
• Any IRS rulings concerning their non-profit tax exemption status
• A color copy of the completed decal design
• An explanation of the purpose of the decal, eligibility requirements for purchasing the decal, and fees to be charged for the decal
• Certification by the person who has legal rights to the decal design which allows use of the design
• Any other information the DOT sees necessary
Once the department approves an organization’s design, the organization is responsible for the production, administration, and issuance of the decal. The organization cannot issue a decal that has not been approved by the department or alter the approved design without department approval. Additionally, a person cannot display a decal on their plates that was not approved by the department. The bill provides that special registration plates that were approved and in production before this bill, will still be available and issued according to the terms of the laws under which those plates were authorized. The bill is effective on January 1, 2014.

June Deadline for Century and Heritage Farms

On Friday, May, 3, 2013, the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) issued a press release in which Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey reminded eligible farm owners that the deadline to apply for the 2013 Century and Heritage Farm Program is June 1, 2013.

The program recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms. Farm families with a century or heritage farm must submit an application to the department no later than June 1, 2013 to qualify for recognition this year. Applications are available on the Department’s website at http://www.IowaAgriculture.gov

The Century Farm program began in 1976 as a part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration and 17,486 farms from across the state have received this recognition. The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and 583 farms have been recognized. Last year 345 Century Farms and 69 Heritage Farms were recognized.

The program is sponsored by IDALS and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. The ceremony to recognize the 2013 Century and Heritage Farms will be held at the Iowa State Fair and is scheduled for Tuesday, August 13th.

Recap of Week 17

This was the first week of the session’s overtime. At the beginning of the week, we were told to return for the week but to be prepared to stay until the very end. Even through Sunday, if it was needed to close the session. So being optimistic, I packed extra clothes, hoping this was the last trip to Des Moines for the session.

Tuesday we cleaned up the bill calendar. Discussions between the House, Senate and the Governor were on-going about the budget. We have to agree on a “big number”. That is the total amount of the money that is spent. Once that is agreed to, it is divided up between the different areas of the budget. The House and the Governor are close to a number. The House proposed to spend $.98 of ongoing revenue but the Senate is still wanting to spend more. They are wanting to spend $1.05 of every dollar the state brings in. While seven cents doesn’t sound like a lot, it adds up to about $500 million in the total budget.

Wednesday evening those talks fell apart. Senator Gronstal informed Speaker Paulsen that they could not meet the numbers that the House and Governor were proposing. He was sending the Senate home for the week. With that, I packed my bags and returned home disappointed.

Conference committees will continue to work on Education reform and Property Tax reform. Over the last week Education reform has been at a road block with not much agreement. The word out of the Property Tax reform committee is they are
making some progress. I hope they will come to an agreement soon.

So I will head back to Des Moines next week with the same optimism. I hope it will be the last trip of the 2013 session.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns about these topics or any others please feel free to contact me by e-mail at lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 281-7330.
Sincerely,
Rep. Lee Hein

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