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Legislators voted 59 to 41 to pass bill along to governor
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will be presented with a bill that would put forth $282 million towards water quality efforts in Iowa if confirmed. This follows a long period of gridlock in Iowa’s Congress which found the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate fiercely opposed to the water bill each backed, respectively.
Eventually, the House chose to put the Senate’s proposed water legislation to a vote on Jan. 23, 2018, voting 59 to 41, moving the bill along to the governor for potential confirmation, and according to Reynolds, such a bill was high on her priority list upon taking office last May.
“As I said in my Condition of the State address earlier this month, improving water quality is a shared goal of Iowans,” Reynolds said. “Many stakeholders -- both rural and urban -- played a key role in supporting this legislation and reaching a consensus.”
The bill itself would allocate the $282 million in funding over the course of 12 years, being sourced from a preexisting tax on metered drinking water. It also establishes a water quality infrastructure fund and a revolving fund through the treasurer’s office.
Debate for new water quality initiatives date back to 2016 during the term of the previous governor Terry Branstad, causing significant divides among legislators that played out over the past couple years until now.
While the bill passed successfully through Congress, it was not without its fierce detractors on the floor. According to Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, the bill will not do enough to involve urban stakeholders.
“I don’t know about all of you, but I did not come down here to check a box,” said Baltimore. “Just because the words ‘water quality’ are in the title of a bill does not make me proud to vote for it so that I can put it on a postcard when I go campaign.”
With so much remaining dissent, it is likely that future changes in legislation will be offered for potential implementation due to pressure from environmental groups and other legislators.