“Adjournment sine die” is a Latin term that is used to mark the ending of the legislative session in Iowa. The phrase means “without assigning a day for further meeting.” The per diem officially would have run out May 3, but both the House and Senate pulled some late hours (3:00 a.m. on April 25!) to close out the session on Saturday, April 27. To adjourn a Legislature is to adjourn for an indefinite period, which will last only until next January.
Overall the session was beneficial to our industry and our members, having been successful in getting many of our key initiatives through. There were 1,946 different bills to review and our HBA of Iowa Legislative Committee took positions on 93 of them. We successfully fought off several bills that would have been harmful to our members—it’s the routine and bad bills never really go away.
It was another great session for coalition building as well. Since our members have many of the same needs as other construction associations, real estate professionals, and skilled trade’s needs—it only makes sense that we band together with a united front. With our member’s livelihoods potentially affected by good or bad legislation, we have the responsibility to work diligently on helping to craft favorable bills, promote housing affordability and eliminate as many of those pitfalls and unnecessary regulatory burdens to help foster the American dream of home ownership.
- SF93—Abandoned Structures. A bill for an act relating to abandoned structures and abatement of public nuisances.
- SF220—Expensing Allowances. An Act relating to the increased expensing allowance deduction by corporations, financial institutions, and partnerships and limited liability companies taxed as corporations, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions. (Signed by Governor on March 15, 2019)
- SF245—Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition. An Act relating to eligibility and reporting requirements for the skilled workforce shortage tuition grant program. (Signed by Governor on April 16, 2019.)
- SF341—Service Animals in Rentals. A bill for an act relating to assistance animals and service animals in housing, service animals and service-animals-in-training in public accommodations, and misrepresentation of an animal as a service animal or a service-animal-in-training, providing penalties, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Governor will sign on May 2 at 3:30 p.m.)
- SF447—Rental Caps. A city shall not adopt or enforce regulation that put rental permit caps on single-family homes or duplexes.
- SF475—E-Notary. This bill allows for the use of an electronic notary. (Governor will sign on April 29 at 10:30)
- SF507—Workers’ Comp. An Act relating to the definition of personal injuries arising out of and in the course of employment for the purposes of compensable acts for workers’ compensation. (Signed by Governor on April 23, 2019)
- SF532—Notice and Opportunity to Repair Construction Defects. An Act relating to notice and opportunity to repair construction defects in new construction, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (A two session battle and signed by Governor Reynolds on April 15, 2019!)
- HF638—Rental Agreements. This bill makes changes to late fees that can be charged on rent. Late fees on rent greater than $700 per month will be capped at $20 per day and $100 per month. Rent that exceeds $1,400 per month, late fees are capped at $30 per day and $150 per month.
- HF701—Nonconforming Uses. An Act relating to the continuance of lawful preexisting nonconforming uses by manufactured, modular, and mobile homes and site-built dwelling units. (Signed by Governor April 23, 2019)
Advancements Despite Opposition
- SF634—Property Tax Relief Bill. We would never be inherently against property tax reform, but we did register against this particular bill that was modeled with language brought forward by Andrew Cuomo in New York. We argued that cities and counties have spending problems, not revenue problems. New revenues are going to be substituted as a result of this bill in the form of new impact fees—they won’t call them impact fees, but will bring some creative names for them. Another basic philosophy is that we’re generally supportive of home rule and this goes against it.The bill was a counter measure because the legislature is always blamed for property tax increases, combined with the fact that many legislators ran on property tax relief and had to do something. When assessments jumped dramatically and promises were made and not kept elsewhere, it was hard to change the direction that this bill was going. We were just not convinced this was the right action, although the Senate version ended up being far better than the house version.Many city leaders will tell you that brand new schools and “great ideas like health and wellness centers” are sucking property taxes away. Time will tell whether or not this will have been a good bill.
Agenda Item for 2020
There were many other bills that were of interest that did not make it, but they really do not die. Rather than recap those, we’ll just worry about it during the next session. We were disappointed that one of our priorities did not move forward, but we’ll slam dunk it during the next. It was non-controversial, but difficult to maintain interest:
- SF458—Liens Against Homestead. A bill for an act relating to debts for which the homestead is liable by providing that the homestead may be sold to satisfy debts secured by a mechanic’s lien, including principal, interest, attorney fees, and costs.