Capitol Digest 05.09.13

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, May 9, 2013:

Reinvestment districts: Members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a tax-incentive measure Thursday aimed at aiding sizable private developments – as long as they aren’t gaming casinos. Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, told committee members she planned to offer an amendment to House File 641 on the Senate floor that would exclude casinos as eligible funding candidates. Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said he would welcome that addition. Under the proposed legislation, cities would be able to designate special 25-acre development zones and use a share of sales tax and hotel-motel tax revenues to assist private projects of at least $10 million. The tax incentives could not exceed 35 percent of the project cost.

EPC to meet: Contracts to monitor air, water and land quality, and stream levels are on the May 21 agenda for the Environmental Protection Commission. Commissioners will be asked to approve a contract for 16 stream gages which track stream levels and help predict the height of floods.

Another contract would provide grants to counties to help private well owners test their groundwater, identify problems with existing wells and help improve or plug wells that have poor water quality.

Commissioners will decide on several contracts with the University of Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory to test for environmental contaminants on the landscape, air quality contaminants and water quality in streams.

A half day of commissioner training will precede the business meeting at 1 p.m. May 20 at the DNR Air Quality Building, 7900 Hickman Rd., Windsor Heights. For more on the agenda, visit

Grazing cover crops: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging farmers with cover crops to contact their insurance provider if they are interested in haying or grazing after May 10. The USDA Risk Management Agency has provided new guidance that may allow farmers to continue to hay or gaze the cover crop until May 22.

In addition to contacting their insurance provider, farmers can also contact the USDA Risk Management Agency’s regional office at (651) 290-3304, or

Truckers Against Trafficking: The Iowa Department of Transportation is partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking to combat the trafficking of human beings.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates human trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry and between 100,000 and 300,000 American children are at risk to enter the sex for sale industry each year

DOT enforcement officers have been trained on the issue and informational materials for professional drivers are available in all state scale sites. In addition, posters will be hung and handout material will be available in all of Iowa’s interstate rest areas. The DOT is working with the Iowa Motor Truck Association to place materials at truck stops.

For more information, visit

Quote of the day: “Anything’s possible, including a special session.” – Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, on the prospects for reaching a compromise on Medicaid expansion.

--Compiled by the Des Moines Bureau

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