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2014 Legislative Wrap Up

See the 2014 bills the Chapter is tracking

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See how legislators voted during 2011-2012

See the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter's 2009-2010 Legislative Scorecard

Information from the Iowa Senate Democrats

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Information from the Iowa House Republicans

Legislators' Public Forum Schedules

Senate Democrats Public Forum Schedule

Access Senate Republicans Public Forum Schedules by clicking on the Senator's name, then clicking "Public Forum Schedule"

House Democrats Public Forum Schedule. Access by clicking on legislator's photograph and contacting that legislator.

Access House Republicans Public Forum Schedules by clicking on the Representative's name, then clicking "Public Forum Schedule"



Last Updated 3/7/2014

Opening Day

The second session of the 85th General Assembly opened on January 13, 2014. According to the Legislative Session Timetable, April 22 was the 100th day when the session is scheduled to end. Although several media outlets reported that the session would be shorter since 2014 is an election year, the session actually went two weeks past the scheduled end date.. 

See a wrap up of this year's session.

The waning days of the legislative session produce a flurry of activity as legislators attempt to wrap up and go home. Amendments are filed, bills are finalized and prepared for final floor debate.  Legislative proposals can often take a dramatic turn from their original versions.  

Rep. Chris Hall (D-Woodbury) and Rep. Chuck Soderberg (R-Plymouth) who  worked together with Rep. Walt Rogers (R-Black Hawk) as a subcommittee for the Standings bill created a stir on the House floor when  Soderberg introduced a "strike after" amendment that would  prohibit debate of any of the 28 amendments that were filed for the bill.  Find out more.


Veto Would Jeopardize Historic REAP Funding


Iowans made it loud and clear in 2014 that REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) is a popular program.  Legislators heard us and, in response, funded REAP at $25 million through three pieces of legislation.


  • HF2458 is the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection bill.  REAP was allocated $16 million in this bill.  Final passage was April 30.

  • HF2463 is the annual Standings bill and it allocates $4 million with final passage on May 1.

  • SF2343, a one-time spending and debt reduction bill, provides $5 million passed by both chambers on April 30.

Gov. Terry Branstad has 30 days from the date of passage to sign or veto a bill.  However, he does not have to wait the entire 30 days. 

He can also choose to line-item veto any of the REAP allocations.


All 99 counties benefit from REAP.  It provides funding to acquire and protect natural areas that otherwise could be permanently destroyed.

Statutorily, REAP is supposed to be funded at $20 million every year.  The past few years have witnessed drastic cuts or funding diversions to other programs.




On May 30, Gov. Branstad vetoed $9 million in REAP funding.  The veto included the section of HF2458 that appropriated $20 million and all of SF2363 that added $5 million for REAP.  One of our members received the following message from the Governor's office related to his decision to veto all but $16 million for REAP.


Terry E. Branstad                           OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR          Kim Reynolds
   GOVERNOR                                                                                         LT. GOVERNOR
June 7, 2014
Wallace Taylor
2200 South 31st Street
Marion, IA 52302-9413
Dear Wallace,
Thank you for contacting our office with your thoughts on the Resources Enhancement and Protection Fund (REAP).
Governor Branstad appreciates the significance of the 25th anniversary of the reap program, and believes the $16 million appropriated this year will allow the program to remain an important partner in conservation.
Again, thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor. 
Office of the Governor
Julie Vande Hoef, Policy Advisor


Committees Assigned

There have been a few committee assignment changes in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  See the list of assignments to the committees.

Legislators Probing Secret Settlements

Legislators have reacted to The Des Moines Register report of March 16 that more than $282,000 was paid in secret settlements to six state of Iowa employees.  Since the newspaper's report, the amount of money paid out has climbed to more than $500,000.  Read about action in the Senate on one day of the session.

REAP Turns 25!

Resource Enhancement and Protection, more commonly known as REAP, celebrates its 25thAnniversary this year.  REAP is funded from the state's Environment First Fund (Iowa gaming receipts) and from the sale of the natural resource license plate. The program is authorized to receive $20 million per year until 2021, but the state legislature sets the amount of REAP funding every year.

State conservation and environmental organizations asked the legislature to fund REAP at $25 million in honor of its silver anniversary.  Gov. Terry Branstad recommended that REAP be funded for 2015 at $16 million, $4 million below the statutory level. 

Legislators heard Iowans and allocated $25 million for REAP.    The allocation was pieced together by $16 million from the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Appropriations bill; $4 million from the Standings bill and $5 million from a one-time spending and debt reduction bill..

Thousands of projects in all 99 counties have benefited since REAP was enacted in 1989.   Depending on the individual programs, REAP provides money for natural and cultural resource projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. 

Iowa's REAP program is about more than outdoor recreation and park areas it's also about the benefits Iowans realize every day.

  • Better water quality and safe drinking water supplies
  • Agricultural soil conservation and agricultural productivity
  • Revitalization of rural communities and economic development

The first $350,000 each year goes to Conservation Education.  One percent of the balance goes for DNR Administration.   The remaining REAP funds go into eight different programs based upon a percentages that are specified in the law. These percentages, or what many people call the REAP formula, are shown in the following:


  • State Open Space -- 28%
  • City Parks and Open Space -- 15%
  • Soil and Water Enhancement -- 20%
  • County Conservation -- 20%
  • State Land Management -- 9%
  • Historical Resources -- 5%
Roadside Vegetation -- 3

The following four state agencies administer REAP programs:

  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Division of Soil Conservation
  • Department of Cultural Affairs, State Historical Society
  • Department of Transportation

Sierra Club Supports Move to Amend

During the first week of February, legislators will receive three documents produced by the Iowa Chapter urging them to support a resolution requesting a Constitutional Convention to overturn the Citizens United Decision.  The convention would be to address adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Citizens United allows individuals and corporations to contribute  unlimited amounts of money to candidates.  The Amendment would specify that corporations do not have Constitutional rights and that money is not free speech.

A second document requests legislators to support an amendment to Iowa's Constitution removing corporations as persons or citizens under corporation law and that they have none of the rights of natural persons.

The third document requests that legislators support legislation that promotes open and fair elections and protects the rights of all voters.

The Citizens United decision by the U. S. Supreme Court now allows corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns. A series of cases during the last century has benefited corporations by affording them the same rights as natural persons.

Amending the Constitution requires that two-thirds of the state legislatures pass a resolution asking for a constitutional convention in order to consider an amendment to the United States Constitution; in this case, that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

The Iowa Chapter supports the Iowa Legislature adopting a joint resolution calling for a constitutional convention to address an amendment to the US Constitution to allow Congress and the states to prohibit or otherwise regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, any limited liability company or any other corporate entity.

Learn more about the proposed amendment and then contact your legislators and candidates.  Tell them you want the Legislature to adopt a Move to Amend resolution in 2015.

Chapter Priorities

The Iowa Chapter has identified several priorities for the 2014 legislative session.

The Chapter supports:

  • Fully funding Resource Enhancement and Protection 9REAP)

  • Increase in the renewable energy standard to 40 percent

  • Adopt a Move to Amend constitution resolution

  • Transparency for all campaign contributions, including direct contributions by people to candidate campaign committees, contributions to PACs, contributions to 527s, etc.

  • Passenger rail funding

  • Feed-in tariff

  • Burn ban

The Chapter opposes:

  • A renewable energy standard for wind

  • Voter suppression

  • Removal of local control for frac sand mining

  • Returning passenger rail funding to the federal government

  • Increased taxes and fees for electric cars.