One week to the first legislative funnel and committees are working at a frenetic pace to clear their dockets of policy legislation. Policy bills are resolved next week, one way or another: (1) the committee of origin passes the bill and moves it to the House or Senate floor, or (2) the committee takes no action on the bill and it become ineligible for further consideration this year. Next week the Weekly Report will contain a list of key bills that both made and missed the cut.
House and Senate pass Gas Tax Increase on Tuesday / Governor signs it on Wednesday
The House, Senate, and Governor’s office each acted swiftly this week to finally pass a gas tax increase and take a big step toward filling the funding gap in our state and local road system.
In a rare display of bipartisan efficiency, the House and Senate adopted SF 257 in a matter of hours on Tuesday. The Senate began the process with an affirmative vote of 28-21 in favor of SF 257 (with 16 Democrats and 12 Republicans voting for the bill). Within hours the House had also passed SF 257 on a 53-46 vote (with 30 Republicans and 23 Democrats voting for the bill).
The bill was quickly prepared for consideration by Governor Branstad and transmitted to his office late Tuesday. Normally the Governor has three full days to consider legislation that comes to him during the session. However, the Governor moved quickly and signed the bill before noon on Wednesday.
The full 10-cent increase in the gas tax will go into effect on March 1 (this Sunday). Expect to see quick action by the Iowa DOT to adopt a new plan for allocating the additional revenue in the coming year so that Iowans can see immediate impact in regards to the fulfillment of critical road and bridge construction needs.
View the Iowa Legislative Bill Tracker
- Legislative intent: 100% of the additional revenue generated by the bill shall be used for critical road and bridge construction projects.
- Prohibits the use of these additional funds to pay for debt service—interest on bonds, loans, or other indebtedness incurred on or after the effective date.
- Raises permit fees for heavy haul loads.
- Increases by 10 cents the rate of the excise tax on motor fuel.
- Provides an incentive for the use of biodiesel blended as B-11 or higher.
- Will raise more than $200 million annually in new road revenue.
Iowa Senate passes Minimum Wage and Wage Theft bills
Two additional pieces of significant legislation were passed in the Iowa Senate this week with the passage of SF 269 and SF 270, largely along partisan lines.
SF 269 raises the minimum wage to $8.00 an hour on July 1, 2015 and $8.75 an hour on July 1, 2016. The bill passed 27-21, with one Republican joining the 26 Democrats in favor.
SF 270 has been referred to as the “wage theft” bill. The bill’s floor manager, Senator Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo), argued the bill would ensure that workers are fully paid for all the hours they have worked, fully paid for overtime, and to prevent them being falsely labeled as “independent contractors.”
SF 270 passed the Senate on a 26-23 party-line vote with Democrats voting YES and Republicans voting NO. The lobby was also firmly split on the measure, with most labor unions registering in support of the bill and the business lobby in opposition.
Despite the action in the Senate, the House (with Republicans in control) is unlikely to take up either measure this year.
Efforts On Behalf of Community Bankers of Iowa
- Participated in passage of SF 257, the legislation to increase the gas tax by 10 cents – a major victory on a CBI priority!