One of the high-profile failures of the 2017 legislative session is a bill that would set up a new spending strategy for water quality projects. The House and Senate could not agree on an approach for financing the plan.
Republican Senators favored relying on gambling taxes. Republicans and many Democrats in the House endorsed the idea of redirecting state sales tax revenue that’s currently reserved for school infrastructure. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, said there were “common themes” in the two bills.
“It’s always good to have a springboard, places where you have agreement to move forward,” she told reporters Friday.
Negotiations will continue over the next few months, according to Upmeyer.
“I think people will continue to have conversations,” Upmeyer said. “It’s not something that just goes away.”
The dismissal of the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit challenging how fertilizer run-off was handled northwest Iowa seemed to drain support among Republicans for a big, new state program to finance water improvement projects. Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids also points to the GOP’s decision to shut down the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
“Here’s something that has worked for farmers across our state, students at Iowa State University. It’s been a very positive center for our state and they propose eliminating it last week and now it’s on the governor’s desk, ready to be eliminated,” Hogg said.
Republicans in the legislature voted to close the research center and redirect about 400-thousand dollars to Iowa State’s Nutrient Research Center, which focuses on how best to manage manure and fertilizer applications on farmland.