Capitol Update: Week 6

DOT Bridge Report

On February 16, 2016 the House Transportation Committee passed HF 2241, which, if signed into law, would require the DOT to submit an annual report to the legislature detailing the status of structurally labeled bridges. This bill is a product of last year’s Gas Tax, which raised the fuel tax by 10 cents. We voted for the Gas Tax with the understanding that the additional dollars going toward the Road Use Tax Fund would be accounted for and go toward insufficient infrastructure.

This year, when the legislature asked to see where these additional dollars were spent, the Department of Transportation produced a report that detailed how funding had been allocated toward roads and highways. Although this report intended to gather information from all the counties in Iowa, not all counties reported how the funding had been spent on their roads and highways.

I saw two main problems with this report. The first problem was that the DOT did not report on how the money from the Gas Tax had impacted structurally deficient bridges. I saw this as a problem because legislators had the understanding that the Gas Tax, in part, to help fund the several deficient bridges across Iowa. The second problem with this report was that not all counties submitted any data at all. House Republicans saw the failure of counties to report as a problem because they had been reassured there would be transparency in dollars spent.

To solve these problems HF 2241 was proposed. This bill specifically requires the county engineer of each county to certify and file a report with the DOT detailing the use of the road use tax fund moneys to replace or repair bridges that are structurally deficient. The report should include: (1) bridges replaced or repaired to function at full capacity, (2) bridges that have been partially replaced or repaired, (3) the number of bridges in the process of being replaced or repaired, and (4) the number of bridges structurally deficient and a timeline for their repair. This report must be filed between December 1 and December 15 of each year. After receipt of these reports, the DOT must compile a cumulative report and present it to the General Assembly by February 15, 2015 of each year.

This bill passed the House Transportation Committee on February 16, 2015 by a vote of 21-0. To get signed into law the bill must pass the House Floor, the Senate Floor, and be signed by the Governor.

News from District 96

A part of the legislative process is funnel week and this week was the first funnel. Legislation dealing with policy other than taxes and government spending must be passed through a committee by the end of this week.  If it doesn’t pass through a committee then it will not make it to the Governor’s desk this session.

A large part of my week revolved around HSB601. This bill came out of the Governor’s plan to address water quality in the State of Iowa.  This bill extends funding for school infrastructure while allocating dollars for investment in Iowa’s water quality.  To help explain the issue I will provide some background information on the progress we have made for Iowa.

In 2008 the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force released a report calling for each state in the Mississippi River Basin to create a plan to improve water quality and reduce nutrients in the water. The Iowa Legislature, Iowa State University, and Industry Leaders responded in 2012 by creating and endorsing the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  This Strategy outlines guidelines for scientific research and implementation of various practices to reduce the amount of nutrients that make it into Iowa’s waterways.

With HSB601 we intend to continue our support of water quality in Iowa with adequate funding while maintaining our commitment to schools. School boards will have more choices and options with the money that is allocated through the SAVE program because of this legislation.  The House Agriculture Committee passed HSB601 Wednesday morning and from there it will move on to the House Ways and Means Committee.  I will continue to keep an eye on this bill in order to support Iowa’s Farmers, Iowa Water Quality, and Iowa’s Schools.

The highlight of my week came from visits with people back home. I was excited to visit with high school students and their advisors on preventing substance abuse Monday morning.  It was also good to chat with both Delaware and Jones County Farm Bureau members on Wednesday.  We addressed the Section 179 Coupling Issue as well as water quality.  I also had the chance to meet with John Harms of the State Fair and the Jones County Fair Board at a function this week as well.

As always if you need anything from me don’t be afraid to get in touch. I enjoy and appreciate hearing from you.  My phone number is (319) 480-1997 and lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s