Des Moines River

The Iowa General Assembly may conclude today, but a few critical decisions remain. The House and Senate have not yet settled on a plan to address with water quality issues. Last night, the House endorsed its alternative. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, said he’s the first to admit the bill “isn’t enough,” but Baltimore said it sets up a process to start.

“Water quality issues in this state didn’t just pop up over night. These are decades, if not centuries, if not millenia in the making,” Baltimore said. “We are not going to solve these problems with a single, in 10 years.”

The bill passed the House with the support of Republicans and Democrats.

“I’m going to support this bill because, God knows, something is better than nothing,” said Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton.

Representative Cindy Winckler, a Democrat from Davenport, said the plan for how to spend the money was fine.

“Except that there is no new money,” Winckler said. “We’re just shifting.”

And Winckler voted no. She objected to using part of the sales taxes currently raised for school construction for future water quality projects instead. Winckler was in the minority, though, as the bill cleared the House on a 79-19 vote.

Republicans in the Iowa Senate endorsed their own approach on Wednesday, without the support of Senate Democrats.

“This bill provides policy and funding for long-term, collaborative, science-based, non-regulatory projects that I believe will move the needle in reducing the flow of nutrients into Iowa’s rivers and streams,” said Senator Ken Rozenboom, a Republican from Oskaloosa who is a farmer and agribusinessman.

The Senate GOP would eventually redirect gambling taxes that would otherwise be used for the construction and maintenance of buildings. Both approaches would provide some state resources to Iowa cities and towns that face pricey repair and replacement of sewer and drinking water systems.