116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Prompted by questions from the state’s corn growers, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office is working with economists to study why fertilizer prices have spiked over the past year.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller Thursday told reporters the process is not a formal investigation, but he hopes the review helps lead to a decline in fertilizer prices.
The price of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer has increased 315 percent since January 2021, and other types of fertilizer have increased between 171 percent and 290 percent, according to the federal agriculture department.
Miller said the review will be similar to one his office conducted roughly a decade ago, when it looked into significant increases in natural gas prices. Miller said after that review, prices began to decline.
“We think this is really important for our ag community,” Miller said during a virtual news conference. “We think public discussion could be helpful to get some resolution.”
Miller said economists will study how the price increases happened, and if they are consistent with supply and demand.
SECOND AMENDMENT RALLY: The Iowa Firearms Coalition hosted “Second Amendment Day” at the Iowa Capitol with a program featuring multiple speakers.
Of primary interest was a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution, which will go to Iowa voters in the fall general election. The proposed amendment would guarantee Iowans’ right to bear arms, and decree that any firearms law or regulation must be subject to strict scrutiny, the highest level of judicial scrutiny.
Iowa voters will be asked on this year’s ballots whether to add that amendment to the Iowa Constitution.
TREE PLANTING GRANTS: The Iowa Legislature appropriated state infrastructure funds to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for a community-based derecho recovery tree-planting program. Additionally, through the USDA Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters 2021 State Urban Forest Resilience Grant Program, the DNR received funds for emerald ash borer reforestation.
The Community Forestry Grant Program provides reimbursable dollar-for-dollar matching grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 to be used for the purchase and planting of trees suitable to Iowa on publicly owned lands including street right-of-ways, parks, school grounds, courthouse lawns, public buildings, fairgrounds, cemeteries, libraries and trails.
More than $21,000 in matching funds will be made available to local governments, schools and service organizations in the 27 Iowa counties included in the Governor’s Derecho Disaster Proclamation, as well as $50,000 in matching funds available to local governments, schools, and service organizations in the 84 counties with confirmed Emerald Ash Borer.
Apply at www.iowadnr.gov/urbanforestry by March 30.
GUARANTEED MAXIMUM PRICE: SF 183 was approved 53-44.
The bill would authorize governmental entities to enter into guaranteed maximum price contracts for the construction of public improvements. It also would prohibit them from entering into design-build contracts for projects and from entering into guaranteed maximum price contracts for highway, bridges or culvert construction.
SF 183 would prohibit the Iowa Board of Regents from entering into a design-build contract to construct, repair, or improve buildings or grounds. It also would prohibit governmental entities from utilizing the fee-based selection of an architect, landscape architect or engineer for a public improvement.
With the exception of the regents, all public improvement projects are completed using a process that requires governmental entities to bid projects using a design-bid-build contract. The regents currently uses both design-bid-build and design-build contracts. They have completed or initiated a total of 14 contracts using design-build and completed seven projects using design-build.
Several Democratic amendments were rejected including one by Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, proposing to allow governmental bodies to choose the process “best for the project and the taxpayer.” They could choose to take the lowest responsible bid, which is the case for most projects undertaken by Iowa governmental entities, construction manager at-risk
He said 88 percent of regents’ projects over past seven years have been lowest responsible bidder and in cases they used design-build it saved taxpayers money.
For the most part, the bill was supported by construction and development companies, and the League of Cities. It was opposed by labor unions.
HEMP PRODUCTION: House members voted 95-0 to approve HF 2380 to increase the maximum number of acres of hemp a producer may grow from 40 acres to 320 acres per year, with the condition that not more than 40 acres can be used to produce hemp grown for the purpose of extracting cannabidiol.
Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt, said when the Legislature first approved hemp production there were limited or no markets for hemp. Since then, growers have sought to increase the acreage cap.
PROTECTIVE ORDERS: Representatives unanimously approved HF 825 which would allow, but not require, a judge to enter a protective order that does not include a finding of domestic or sexual abuse if both the petitioner and respondent consent
The change would make the process of obtaining a protective order less traumatic for some victims, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, said.
It was supported by the bar, trial attorneys, and groups advocating for domestic and sexual violence victims, and civil liberties.
— Compiled by the Des Moines Bureau