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Clock runs out on bevy of bills in Iowa Legislature  

Credit:  Written by Jason Noble and William Petroski | The Des Moines Register | Feb. 21, 2014 | www.desmoinesregister.com ~~

The Iowa Legislature’s procedural deadline known as the funnel siphoned off dozens of bills this week that are no longer eligible for consideration and approval.

Bills addressing everything from alcohol sales at microdistilleries to legalization of medical marijuana fell into the legislative scrap heap. It’s possible for legislative leaders to exercise parliamentary maneuvers to revive the bills, but they’re unlikely to advance further in 2014.

The funnel focuses lawmakers’ attention on a narrower range of bills that are more likely to garner consensus. It also moves the action in the Capitol to the floors of the House and Senate, where bills will be debated over the next few weeks.

That’s a contrast from the past five weeks, in which lawmakers have primarily met in small panels and on committees to review legislation.

“Next week we would anticipate lots of floor time, and very little committee time,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs.

Below are 10 high-profile bills that failed to win committee approval:

Microdistilling

Small-scale Iowa-based liquor distillers sought to serve their own products by the glass and sell up to 12 bottles to customers from their distillery site. Currently, they’re limited to two bottles and can offer only 2-ounce samples to visitors. House File 2173.

Rock Island Clean Line

Property owners wanted an alternate process for approving certain power transmission lines to make it easier for them to challenge projects in which their land faces eminent domain condemnation.

The bill was aimed at checking the Rock Island Clean Line, a proposed project to transport wind energy to markets in Illinois and eastward. House File 2056.

Abortion lawsuits

Legislation would have created a new “cause of action” – the right to file a lawsuit – specifically relating to physical injury or emotional distress caused by a physician’s negligence or failure to fully inform a patient of the risks involved in an abortion procedure. House File 2098.

Raw milk

Two bills would have allowed farmers to sell raw, unpasteurized milk and allowed consumers to purchase shares in a cow or cow herd and consume the raw milk the cows produced. House Study Bill 131, House Study Bill 634.

Silica sand

New silica sand mining operations in northeast Iowa would have been halted until July 2016, and the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Transportation departments would have been required to conduct a study on the effects of sand mining on air and water quality and state roads. House File 2028.

Medical marijuana

Senate Democrats who endorse medical marijuana filed a bill and declared the issue dead the same day because of a lack of support from Republican lawmakers.

The proposal was based on a New Mexico law that makes the use and possession of cannabis legal for patients “in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments.” Senate File 2215.

School aid for 2015-16 academic year

The Democratic-led Senate passed a package of three bills costing $222 million that provide a 6 percent increase in state aid for Iowa’s public schools for the academic year that begins in the fall of 2015. But they were dead on arrival in the House, where Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, told reporters the matter was shelved until next year.

Paulsen said he didn’t want to make a commitment for more than $200 million in state funding for the 2015-16 school year without knowing what state revenues will look like that far in the future. Senate Files 2077, 2078 and 2079.

Solar energy

Iowa’s investor-owned utilities would have been required to provide their customers with 105 megawatts of solar electricity under a bill aimed at boosting the state’s solar energy industry. It would have revised a current law that requires utilities to provide 105 megawatts of renewable energy, including electricity generated by wind and other alternative energy sources. The bill cleared a subcommittee this week but was declared dead Thursday by Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, who said too many questions remained for it to proceed. He suggested it could be revived next year. Senate File 2107.

NSA surveillance

Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, proposed a bill to protect Iowans’ Fourth Amendment rights from the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program. Iowa was the 15th state where such legislation had been introduced.

The bill would have prohibited storage of any unconstitutionally gathered data and made it inadmissible in state court. It also would have cut funding to state universities supporting the NSA with research or recruiting. The bill received a subcommittee hearing but didn’t proceed. Senate File 2172.

Cold War medal

A bill that would have authorized the issuance of “Cold War victory awards” to Iowa National Guard members who served between 1945 and 1991 initially seemed like a good idea for honoring 45,000 former soldiers and airmen.

But advocates for veterans noted the federal government already authorizes certificates for Cold War military service members and they wondered why only former guardsmen would be singled out for the honors. Senate Study Bill 3123.

Source:  Written by Jason Noble and William Petroski | The Des Moines Register | Feb. 21, 2014 | www.desmoinesregister.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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