116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr, and Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, were presented the 2022 Hoover Uncommon Public Service Award on Wednesday.
The award, named for Iowa native President Herbert Hoover, is presented annually to Iowa legislators who exemplify Hoover’s humanitarian efforts and who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to demonstrate uncommon service and commitment to the people of Iowa.
Dolecheck is retiring after the 2022 legislative session.
Dolecheck, 70, a retired farmer, has served in the House since 1997. Over the years, he has chaired the Education Committee as well as Education Appropriations Subcommittee. He’s also served on the Human Resources, Labor and Environmental Protection committees.
Petersen, 51, who works in marketing communications, served six terms in the House before being elected to the Senate three times. The first woman elected Senate Democratic leader, she led her caucus from 2017 to 2020. She has served on the Appropriations, Commerce, Government Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees as well as Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee.
SOLAR TAX CREDIT: The Iowa House unanimously approved legislation to “fulfill an obligation” to the thousands of Iowans who made solar energy installations on their homes but have not received the state solar tax credit because the demand exceeded the available funding.
House File 2556, approved Wednesday on a 94-0 vote, will not extend the credit, but will pay those tax credit applications filed for installations before Dec. 31, 2021, Rep. Jane Bloomingdale, R-Northwood, said.
Over 10 years, more than 4,600 Iowa homeowners received nearly $15 million in tax credits for solar energy installations.
However, the residential credit, was capped at $5 million a year. So about 1,500 homeowners who filed for $4.5 million in tax credits in 2020 were placed on a waitlist, according to the Department of Revenue. The numbers are expected to be similar for 2021.
“Residential solar is good for the homeowner. It’s good for the industry. It diversifies our electrical grid, and it’s something we, as a body, ought to continue to support,” Rep. Eric Gjerde, D-Cedar Rapids, said.
Generally, environmental and justice advocates supported the bill while utilities, bankers and the Iowa Utilities Board were registered as undecided.
OPIOID FUND: House File 2573 would create the Opioid Settlement Fund for all money paid to the state as a result of a national settlement of litigation concerning claims related to the manufacturing, marketing, selling, distribution, dispensing or promoting of opioids.
Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, said Iowa is expected to receive $87 million from one settlement, and there may be more from future settlements.
Those funds may be appropriated by the Legislature for abating the opioid crisis. Funds may be used to buy and maintain opioid antagonist medication used by first responders, such as Naloxone.
Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, argued against the bill, saying the attorney general should oversee how those funds are spent.
Fry pointed to the precedent of the tobacco settlement as an example of the Legislature using settlement funds to support programs in the Department of Human Services and other state agencies.
Others noted that, according to the Iowa Constitution, the authority to appropriate funds lies only with the Legislature, not the attorney general.
Fry also said the Attorney General’s Office did not provide input into the legislative process as the bill was developed.
It was approved 84-10.
INVASIVE EXAMS: Senate File 2080 would prohibit schools from conducting an invasive physical examination of a student or a health screening not required by the state without written consent of the student’s parent or guardian.
The bill, which was unanimously approved by the Senate, would not prohibit a school from conducting health screenings in “emergent care” situations — a sudden or unforeseen occurrence or onset of a medical or behavioral condition that could result in serious injury or harm to a student or others — or when cooperating in a child abuse assessment.
It passed 94-0.
Gazette Des Moines Bureau