Representative Jeff Kaufmann.

The Iowa House has approved a bill designed to let Iowa cities hit by flooding tap into another tax source for “flood mitigation” projects and the legislation is on its way to Governor Branstad for his approval.

Representative Jeff Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, said it’s not for flood clean-up, but for projects that will prevent future flooding.

“The devastation that Iowa went through, the question that we can ask now, upon reflection, is: “Did we learn anything?” And I think this bill says: ‘Yes,” Kaufmann said.

If sales tax revenue increases in a city, that city would be able to keep that additional revenue and use it to finance a flood prevention project.

“This is a way for communities to retain revenue that is not yet there, but would be part of the growth, in order to help themselves help their citizens,” Kaufmann said.

The legislation was originally designed to help Cedar Rapids, which was hit by a devastating flood in 2008, but the senate voted to expand the idea so all cities in Iowa could participate and the House this morning endorsed the concept, too. Representative Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, said it will help communities prepare for things beyond their control.

“We’ve seen a lot of disasters directly due to rain over the last four or five years,” Murphy said, “if you take the rains that occured in 2008; or if you take the heavy snow melt that affected the west end of the state last year; or if you just take a look at the city that I’m from — Dubuque, Iowa — that received 14.2 inches of rain in a less than 10 hour time span.”

Representative Dave Jacoby, a Democrat, represents Coralville which saw flooding in 2008.

“It seems like some of the bills coming through — and this (bill) is significant, and I will vote for it today — but it seems like we’re piecemealing things,” Jacoby said.

A state board would be created to administer the program and no more than $30 million in state sales tax collections could be diverted each year for flood mitigation projects. No single project could get more than $15 million.

AUDIO of House debate of the legislation.