The 2017 Iowa Legislative session closed Saturday, April 22 after an all-night marathon. Big issues like water quality, cannabis, and budget issues were still being worked on as they tried to find common ground before calling the session’s end. Early in the session, lawmakers shortened the session by ten days to save some money and the per diem ended April 18.
Everyone had hoped for a smooth and easy session with Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and Governor’s office—such was not the case and much lower than expected revenues further complicated things. Overall it was a monumental undertaking—with issues like abortion, tax relief, mental health and education funding, collective bargaining, medical marijuana, etc.
It was a great session for members of the Home Builders Association of Iowa and other construction association groups, real estate professionals, and workforce development planning coalitions. Iowa’s 15-year Statute of Repose (the longest in the Country) was finally reduced after a seven-year battle. Commercial applications will now have an eight year SoR and residential is now at ten years. This will hopefully open up the insurance marketplace for our members, saving significant premiums with the lower exposure.
The Iowa Association of Realtor’s were victorious in their number one issue that was fought for the past four sessions—a first time homebuyer savings account. Similar to Iowa’s 529 plan for education, it will allow individuals to put away $2,000 and couples $4,000 annually into an interest bearing savings account to be used for a down payment on a single family home.
Another victory was one of the Master Builder’s top priorities—a prohibition on government-mandated Project Labor Agreements. This will be helpful for a number of HBAI members as well.
Water quality funding ended up in a stalemate between the House and Senate, so nothing was done for this session. It will be back next year for sure.
The HBAI Legislative Committee registered in favor of 31 bills (or variations); opposed eight; and marked undecided on 18 others. We successfully fought off a number of harmful bills, which always have the possibility of resurfacing. It was the most successful legislative session in many, many years. There were many pro-business, regulatory relief, and tax victories. We will continue adding to this list—the environment is ripe for taking this state to the next level with many more economic development incentives. It is all about the economy—when it’s strong, our members can’t help but be successful.
It was a great session and the level of coalition building and support from like-minded groups was exceptional. Our members were exceptional—answering the call multiple times to contact their legislators with information that helped push our pro-construction agenda forward. Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible.