The Rozenboom Report – March 13, 2017

My family and I send our thoughts and prayers to all affected by the storm events of the last week, and we hope you will join us in providing assistance to all those in need.

The Governor issued a disaster proclamation for Appanoose, Muscatine, Scott and Wayne counties due to the severe weather. This means state resources can be used to help these counties recover from the storms. This declaration also triggers the Iowa Individual Assistance Program, which provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level or a maximum annual income of $40,320, for a family of three. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and for the expense of temporary housing. The grant application, instructions, and more information are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website. Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation (March 8) to submit a claim.

With a large amount of floor debate, we passed a series of bills last week. Some of the bills include SF 197 which authorizes public buildings to display the POW/MIA flag on POW/MIA Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. The bill also states that the POW/MIA flag, when displayed, shall be no larger than the U.S. flag and flown second in the order of precedence immediately below or adjacent to the U.S. flag in accordance with federal guidelines.

HF 312 permits a person to leave a vehicle unattended while the engine is running. Under current law, a person is prohibited from letting a vehicle stand unattended without first stopping the engine. The bill still requires motorists to turn their wheels to the curb if they are on any perceptible grade.

SF 401 creates a sexual abuse civil protective order, available from a court for sexual abuse. Under current law a victim may apply for a criminal no-contact order after the defendant has been arrested for sexual abuse, or upon the convicted defendant’s release from jail or prison. A sexual abuse civil protective order would be available through the court on an emergency, temporary, or permanent basis. The order can be obtained before the defendant has been arrested and can cover the victim and members of the victim’s family. The protections are the same as those afforded by a domestic abuse protective order. The bill also creates a notification system located in the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office to be used for notification of victims under domestic abuse protective orders and sexual abuse protective orders. It also notifies victims of establishment of order, its duration, expiration warning, and notifies and allows law enforcement to use and disseminate the information for purposes of enforcement.

Last week the Natural Resources Committee, which I chair, advanced SF 482, the Senate’s first attempt to make big strides towards improving water quality in Iowa. This legislation is similar to a bill the House passed last year in a bipartisan manner.

This legislation establishes watershed based solutions, and encourages collaboration between agriculture, municipalities, small communities and industry by addressing both point and non-point sources of nutrients. This bill also sets a baseline from which we can measure success. This baseline has been agreed to by the Departments of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University, the three creators of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. This baseline is also rooted in the Hypoxia Action Plan, which has been established by the federal EPA.

Currently, the state is annually investing approximately $20.6 million in water quality improvement efforts. The bill requires additional spending on water quality improvements, ramping up from $8 million new money in FY18 to nearly $48 million new annual spending by 2023. Over the timeline between now and 2030, SF 482 would aim to strengthen our investment by appropriating a total approximately $849 million. Given our current budget restraints, finding new money to fund water quality efforts will be very difficult this year, so we’ll have to see how this bills holds together as it goes through the Appropriations committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

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