116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — During a rally at the Iowa Capitol on Monday, a coalition of advocacy organizations called for a moratorium on new factory farms in Iowa.
Environmental and civil action groups attended the rally.
“Along with unfair treatment of farmers, contract livestock farming has seen profits flowing out of Iowa to the corporations that actually own the animals,” Deborah Bunka, with the Iowa Farmers Union, said during the rally. “Record profits are being made while farmers and their communities are left to assume the risks.”
Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, has introduced House File 2305, which would prohibit the construction of any new confinement feeding operation with more than 500 animals.
“For the love of all things we hold dear, from Iowa’s farmers and our communities to our drinking water and the climate, it is time to pass a moratorium on factory farms in Iowa,” said John Aspray, an organizer with Food & Water Watch and chair of the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture. “With each year that the Legislature fails to address the issue, hundreds more factory farms take root in our state. It’s no wonder a vast majority of us want to stop this industry’s predatory growth.”
UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Unemployed Iowans would receive benefits for two fewer months and have to wait a week until those benefits started under legislation approved by majority Republicans on the Senate’s commerce committee.
Senate Study Bill 3093 is similar to the proposal made by Gov. Kim Reynolds. Its party-line approval makes it eligible for consideration by the full Senate and safe from this week’s session deadline.
“This is a larger bill with a single point of purpose: putting people back to work,” said Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, the committee’s chairman.
Democrats called the proposal heartless and criticized Republicans for making it more difficult for unemployed Iowans to receive benefits.
“How is it that beating up on unemployed people is going to solve our unemployment crisis,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames.
MANUFACTURED HOUSING: House Judiciary Committee Republicans passed a compromise version of a bill to protect residents of mobile home parks, saying that after three years of work they believe it will win legislative approval and make it to the governor’s desk.
Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, said House File 833 offers meaningful protections despite not containing all of the provisions the various parties sought. Among the provisions, he said, were some unanimously approved by the House in 2019.
Rep. Ross Wilburn, D-Ames, said the bill, at its core, did not protect manufactured housing renters from rent increases. He reminded the committee of a mobile home resident’s remarks that his rent had doubled in two years.
Lohse said there needs to be a bigger discussion about how to maintain mobile home parks as an affordable housing option. That conversation needs to include state agencies, such as Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Housing Finance Authority, he said.
Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, said the bill had only a few “sprinklings” of provisions to protect people but overall would tip the scales in favor of the landlord, putting tenants at a disadvantage.
After discussion, the bill passed on a party-line vote.
INMATE DIES: James Clyde Howell, 70, died Feb. 11 at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. He was serving a life sentence for first-degree kidnapping beginning May 31, 1989.
— Gazette Des Moines Bureau