The House has approved a bill to tax propane a tenth of a cent per gallon, for spending on safety programs. Representative David Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, recalled a deadly propane accident a few years ago.
Heaton says people putting in a fence hit a propane line and the leak seeped into a house, which ended in a deadly explosion. The tax is expected to generate $350,000 a year, and Heaton questioned whether that much money is needed for safety education.
Deb Grooms, director of the Iowa Propane Gas Association, says the money will be used for enhancing safety. She says the money would be used for education, and safety training for consumers, industry employees, firefighters and anyone who deals with propane systems. She says it’ll improve existing technology, too, and increase the efficiency of propane as well as developing other educational programs.
Representative Nathan Reichert, a Democrat from Muscatine, said the money will help industry professionals take care of situations they spot and educate their customers. When workers are out filling tanks and spot faulty or broken equipment, he says they need to be appropriately trained to make sure that the tanks and regulators are safe, "that the setup going into someone’s house is safe, that we don’t have explosions occurring."
Grooms says 166,000 homes in Iowa use propane for heating, but it won’t just affect propane used for home heating, the tax will be levied on every gallon of propane sold in the state. That includes propane sold for things like backyard grilling. The bill would create a propane education and research council.