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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A bill in the Iowa Statehouse targeting local control on such topics as the minimum wage now takes a more focused stance on city and county civil rights ordinances.
An earlier draft of the bill would have taken away local governments' ability to adopt civil rights ordinances that go above and beyond the statewide standard. But an amendment filed this week narrows that section of the bill's scope to cover lease agreements between residential rental property owners and their tenants.
The amended bill essentially would eliminate any local measure that requires a landlord to consider a tenant's or potential tenant's source of income when leasing a property.
Housing voucher ordinances such as those in Iowa City and Marion - which ban landlords from discriminating against voucher holders - would be abolished under the bill.
The bill also still would eliminate local minimum wage higher than the state's $7.25 rate as well as plastic bag ordinances.
Rep. John Landon, R-Ankeny, said the amendment focuses the bill on its original intention of unifying business requirements across the state. At least another amendment to further tighten up bill language is expected, he added.
'When we get a newly crafted or drawn up amendment, it will basically spell out that we are trying to clarify that a contract in the state of Iowa means the same thing across the state,” Landon said. 'In the pre-emption language, we are trying to get to that issue that a city or county cannot change the nuances of a contract to make it different.”
Landon said the bill, which passed the House Local Government Committee earlier this month on a 12-to-9 party-line vote, could come before the full House in the next few weeks.
But Iowa City city Manager Geoff Fruin said the bill would make Iowa City's ordinance, which passed about a year ago, unenforceable.
'We strongly feel that we should be enhancing local home rule, not further restricting it,” Fruin said. 'Regardless of what component of the bill you're looking at, our position would be those decisions are better left to local governments who can more clearly reflect the values of their particular communities and who are more accountable to their residents.”
Rep. Landon countered the bill is meant to create more uniform statewide rules for businesses.
'It's impossible to anticipate what every county or municipality might want for their needs, but it changes how you do business in those communities and makes it difficult for a company that is multi-county and multi-state to do business. We're trying to make Iowa more business friendly and create more jobs,” he said.
If signed into law, the bill would eliminate existing minimum wage ordinances in Johnson, Linn, Polk and Wapello counties.
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