Minute with Mike, Week Six

From My Desk

Week six is winding down here at the State House. Thankfully, even with the frigid temperatures we had this week, we were still able to come together wearing masks and social distancing, of course, to work for the people of Iowa. Passing legislation that benefits everyone has always been my goal as your representative.

I am working hard to get bills moved through Subcommittees and Standing Committees, so they can come before the House and be passed onto the Senate before the funnel date, which is March 5.

 

Agriculture

On Thursday, Feb. 11, the House Agriculture Committee passed HF 287, which now becomes HF 522. This was one of the bills that I have drafted and was assigned to me.

I was glad to see it pass out of the Committee by a bipartisan vote. The bill adds an exception to the state’s environmental livestock regulations that restricts the use of anaerobic manure storage to qualified confinement feeding operations. The bill allows qualified confinement feeding operations that use biogas producing anaerobic digester systems to produce electricity, hydrogen fuel or heat for commercial purposes.

Qualified confinement feeding operations are defined by current code to be confinement livestock facilities with a capacity greater than: (a) 5,400 animal unites for swine operations with farrow and gestating aspects, (b) 2,500 animal units for swine confinement without farrowing and gestating functions (primarily finishers), and 5,333 animal units of cattle. The special livestock waste provisions for qualified confinement feeding operations were enacted in 1995 as part of the state’s encompassing livestock regulation law and sought to address concerns that very large anaerobic lagoons could produce intolerable odors.

That law allows livestock operations larger than specified threshold size stated in the prior sentence if they used aerobic treatment like large wastewater systems do. We did not have this technology in the 90s when these limits were established. Science and technology has progressed significantly since then and now with this new, advanced technology and a better understanding of manure management, dairy farms and confinements can build production while being wise and resourceful with the natural waste products they produce.

This legislation provides livestock farmers with another way to handle manure to use a biogas digester to further metabolize animal wastes into energy feedstocks that can be used to generate electrical power or heat. This process significantly reduces odor emission of stored manure and significantly reduces the odor of application of remaining waste by-products following biogas production by digesters, but retain phosphorous crop nutrient components.

Additionally, during discussion of the bill in committee there were comments that having a number of biogas digesters in Iowa may create a potential for collaboration with community wastewater treatment systems to provide a less costly means to denitrify and remove solid components.

Furthermore, there are indications that the new Biden administration intends to create attractive federal subsidies for carbon-cycling agricultural activities and methane control.

 

Education

House Republicans passed a Supplemental State Aid (SSA) increase for schools of 2.4 percent for fiscal year 2022 for both the Regular Program and the Categorical Supplements. It also extends the Property Tax Relief Payment (PTRP) an additional year which has the state pick up any property tax growth in the Additional Levy portion of the school funding formula.

The State Cost Per Pupil (SCPP) amount on which the school aid formula is based increases from $7,048 to $7,217, which is a $169 increase.

However, this amount will increase to $7,227 because this bill includes a $10 State Cost Per Pupil increase to narrow the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) gap. This also continues to address transportation equity which is raised at the same rate as SSA.

The percentage is on par with what has been done in recent years, but the fact of the matter is enrollment was down by about 7,000 students. Contrary to what the media portrays as happening, public school funding is not cut under this proposal. This is a 2.4 percent increase.

Since 2011, House Republicans have prioritized students and schools with continuous increases for Supplemental State Aid, transportation equity, and adding an additional ten dollars per student to address equity issues. The major goal of this letter is to give you a quick update that can be read in a few minutes.

If you need more in-depth information on a specific subject or a bill, please just email my clerk, Andrea, at mike.sexton@legis.iowa.gov. She can find the information you are looking for, and get it back to you.

 

Pass It On

If you have family, friends, or co-works that you think would also enjoy MWM please forward this to them so they can read it and deicide to be on our mailing list.

If you are reading this and would like to subscribe to our newsletter, “Minute with Mike,” please send us an email letting us know.

We have created a Facebook page that I will be using to add comments about what is going on in the Capitol and the House floor. This page will also be used to make comments as bills are being debated on the floor. Please go to https://www.facebook.com/citizensforsexton or search for State Representative Mike Sexton on Facebook and like it, so you can stay informed about legislation we are working on.

Please let me know what you are thinking! Feel free to contact me at my legislative email at mike.sexton@legis.iowa.gov.

Category:

The Graphic-Advocate

The Graphic-Advocate 
121 North Center St.
Lake City, IA 51449
Phone: 712-464-3188

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit www.midampublishing.com for more information.