The 89th Iowa General Assembly wrapped up the session at 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19, almost three weeks after the per diem ran out on April 30. The delay was mainly due to the budget negotiations and they finally agreed on the $8.1 billion appropriation for FY 2022. This is 97.66% of the ongoing revenue expected to be collected and an increase of $291 million over FY 2021. The HBA of Iowa took positions on 77 different bills, opposing six, registering in favor of 34, and monitoring another 37. Overall, it was a productive session for our organization. A few of the direct highlights for our Federation included:
- HF 555—A bill for an act prohibiting counties and cities from regulating the sale of natural gas and propane. Signed by Governor Reynolds on April 12, 2021.
- HF 561—A bill for an act relating to the perfection of mechanics’ liens and mechanics’ liens remedies and including effective date provisions. Signed by Governor Reynolds on April 30, 2021.
- HF 682—A bill for an act relating to the Iowa appraisal standards and appraiser certification law, making penalties applicable, and including applicability provisions. Signed by Governor Reynolds on May 24, 2021.
- HF 758—A bill for an act modifying provisions related to certain affidavits accepted by county recorders for updating county transfer books and indexes when a conveyance of real estate has not occurred. Signed by Governor Reynolds on May 24, 2021.
- HF 765—An act relating to providing certain local government notices and other information to persons by electronic means.
- HF 848—An Act relating to broadband service, including matters under the purview of the office of the chief information officer, the empower rural Iowa broadband grant fund, and including effective date and applicability provisions. Signed by Governor Reynolds on April 28, 2021, this bill will allocate $100 million per year over the next three years to expand high-speed internet to underserved areas of the state.
- HF 871—The Administrative Rules Committee adopted the 2020 National Electrical Code on December 8, 2020 with only a few of our amendments and they were scheduled to end on January 1, 2021. Although we asked for many more amendments to be adopted—with housing affordability in mind, this amendment was the most important one addressing section 210.8(F) of the 2020 NEC which requires a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breaker to be installed on connections between a new home’s electrical system and the air conditioning condenser unit—the part of the HVAC system that resides outside.
GFCI breakers are specialized devices that prevent electrocutions in homes by quickly tripping the circuit when a potential electrocution event is detected. There are so many problems with this, and it has been a disaster in other states that have adopted it. Towards the end of the legislative session, we were able to pass HF871: This was an economic development appropriations bill that passed the House on May 6 54-36, then went to the Senate and passed 44-0. They tried to make an unrelated amendment and then had to go back to the House where it passed the House again 54-36. With a paragraph in HF871, we were able to address it until the next code cycle adoption. Here is the language that mattered to our industry:
NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE
Sec. 31. 2020 EDITION OF THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE. Amendments adopted by rule by the electrical examining board pursuant to section 103.6, subsection 1, to the 2020 edition of the national electrical code issued and adopted by the national fire protection association, which amendments were effective as of May 1, 2021, shall not expire, and shall remain in effect until, at minimum, the effective date of rules adopted by the board adopting either of the following:
- A subsequent edition of the national electrical code.
- Subsequent amendments, issued and adopted by the national fire protection association, to the 2020 edition of the national electrical code.
- SF 252—This legislation prohibits cities and counties from passing ordinances that bar landlords from refusing to accept housing vouchers. Governor Reynolds signed the bill on Friday, April 30. For most Iowa cities, it goes into effect immediately and postpones enactment for towns with existing city ordinances on housing vouchers.
- SF 424—An Act relating to the licensure of persons completing an apprenticeship, and including effective date provisions.
- SF 619—Reducing taxes benefits Iowa families and makes our state more competitive.
- Provides $300 million income tax cut by removing triggers.
- $100 million property tax relief by fully removing the mental health levy.
- Phases out the inheritance tax with complete removal by January 2025.
- Invests in attainable housing by increasing funding to the State Housing Trust Fund at $7 million a year.
- Builds high quality homes in rural and urban Iowa by increasing the Workforce Housing Tax Credit to $40 million for FY22 and then $35 million going forward. The Workforce Housing Tax Credit went from $25 million to $40 million in the next fiscal year, with $12 million earmarked for rural communities. The program provides incentives to developers to build homes in the $200,000 to $285,000 range to increase housing stock for working professionals. The Legislature also increased investment in the housing trust fund from $3 million to $7 million for affordable housing opportunities across the state.
- Extends and expands the Brownfield and Grayfield Tax Credits to help rebuild blighted and abandoned properties.
- Creates a Disaster Recovery Housing Assistance Fund to help Iowans who lost their homes due to a natural disaster.
- Increases eligibility for the Early Childhood and Dependent Tax Credits from $45,000 to $90,000 so families are not penalized for hard work and upward mobility. Increased the income eligibility requirements for childcare assistance and creating a graduated phase-out for benefits as a family’s income rises up to 275% of the federal poverty level. The bill doubled the income eligibility level for childcare tax credits from $45,000 to $90,000, and increased the reimbursement rates for childcare providers to 50% of 2020 market rates, an improvement from a several-years-old reimbursement model. The number of children allowed in unlicensed home day care increased from five to six.
- Prioritizes High Quality Jobs applicants who propose to provide onsite childcare options for employees.
- Develops a Manufacturing 4.0 strategic roadmap for the future of manufacturing in the state of Iowa.
- Allows Iowa companies to make strategic investments in their workplaces by coupling with Federal Bonus Depreciation.
- Extends the Targeted Jobs Withholding Credit to help border cities compete with our neighboring states.