What's Been Happening at the Iowa Legislature?

March 31, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The 2016 Iowa Legislative Session is still underway, but many bills have already become law this session. Most of the high profile debate has centered on school funding, water quality, and tax coupling, which we have written about extensively. Along the way, however, several lesser-known bills impacting agriculture have found their way to the Governor’s desk and he has signed them into law. Following is a short summary of several new Iowa laws that impact agriculture to some degree.

Beef Checkoff Update - HF 2269

This new provision simply brings the Iowa Beef Checkoff Program up to date and more in line with the programs from other states. Primarily, the amendment implements a three-year term limit on some member of the executive council and increases the amount of time a producer can ask for a refund of beef checkoff funds from 60 days to 90 days.

Guns on ATVs and Snowmobiles - HF 2283

This new legislation allows people to carry weapons on ATVs and snowmobiles. Landowners on ATVs and snowmobiles may now carry uncased, loaded weapons while driving on their own property. Non-landowners may carry long guns, but these guns must be empty and in a case. Non-landowners with a permit to carry can also carry their pistols in a secure holster while on the ATV or snowmobile. Unless the driver is unable to walk, he or she must get off the vehicle to actually shoot the weapon.

Longer Time to Possess Pelts- HF 2343

This new legislation extends the time period that trappers can possess game and fur bearing animals and their pelts. The legislation changes the expiration of this legal possession period from 30 days after the close of trapping season until the day before the first day of the next hunting season. Proponents say this will allow fur markets to be freer from manipulation. Buyers will no longer be able to force pelt sellers to sell at depressed prices because of a limited time to catch, prepare, and sell their fur.

Report on Structurally Deficient Bridges - HF 2345

This new law will require county engineers to file an annual report detailing the manner in which moneys received from road use fund were used to repair structurally deficient bridges within the state. The bill will sunset in three years.

More than One Trailer - HF 2356

This law allows farmers, farm implement dealers, and manufacturers to tow two animal trailers together in tandem. This negates the necessity of two trips to deliver or relocate multiple trailers.

Protecting the Turtles - HF 2357

This law was implemented in response to a greatly expanded Iowa turtle harvest. The increase has been brought about by an increased demand from the Far East. Iowa has not had a protective period for turtles during their nesting season. This new law implements a four-year population study and directs the IDNR to implement seasons and bag limits on the noncommercial and commercial harvest of turtles.

Increased Penalties for Dumping - HF 2385

This law increases the fines for second and third offenses of illegal dumping. A first offense is penalized at $1,000, a second offense at $2,000, and a third offense at $3,000. This penalty increase does not apply to littering which is defined as trash not exceed 10 pounds or 15 cubic feet in volume.

As stated, the session's not over. We'll keep you posted!