Natural Resources Committee – Week 6, 2020


SF 2269 – Game preserve season extension for extreme weather

SF 2269 would allow a game preserve to apply to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for an extension for operating and providing hunting opportunities on the preserve. The DNR may grant a variance to the operator to extend the season beyond March 31 if the precipitation for the month of January, February or March is above average for the county in which the preserve is located. The approval of the variance is at the discretion of the DNR. The season may not be extended beyond April 15, which is meant to provide safety to game birds during the prime nesting season.

The committee adopted an amendment to further protect any possible nesting birds that may be in place on the game preserve during the extended season by restricting hunting during the extended season to male birds only.
[2/13: 13-0]

SF 2270 – Identification of tree stands for hunting deer on public land

SF 2270 would require anyone who places a tree stand for hunting deer on public land to affix a metal tag with the hunter’s license number to identify the owner of the tree stand. The bill also would allow the owner of a tree stand used on public land to prohibit the use of the tree stand by any other individual.

The committee adopted an amendment to strike the portion of the bill that allows a person to prohibit another hunter from using the owner’s tree stand and the proposed penalty for prohibited use in that situation. The amendment also creates liability protection for the owner of a tree stand for damage to personal property or an injury resulting from another person’s use of a tree stand on public land.
[2/13: 8-5 (No: Boulton, Celsi, Hogg, Lykam, J. Smith)]

SF 2271 – Youth deer hunting licenses and tags and allowed methods of take

SF 2271 would direct the DNR to make youth deer hunting licenses available for purchase when general deer licenses are available for purchase, including through all established deer hunting seasons. Currently, youth deer hunting licenses are not available for sale following the end of the youth season. Youths hunting later in the year would have to purchase a standard deer hunting tag to harvest deer in a later season.

The bill would also allow the youth hunter the use of any legal method of take authorized for all other hunting seasons to hunt deer during the youth deer hunting season. Youth are currently restricted to shotgun, bow or muzzleloaded rifles during the youth season.
[2/13: 13-0]

SF 2234 – Drainage and Levee districts – Construction/reconstruction by railroad companies

SF 2234 would require a railroad company to construct or reconstruct drainage tile lines across its property when that property is located in a levee and drainage district governed by a county board of supervisors. A railroad company already must make construction/reconstruction improvements to bridges or culverts as required by the board so as to not interfere with the drainage of surface water. The bill adds drainage tile line as an improvement that is governed under existing procedure by which railroads facilitate the natural drainage of property within a drainage district.
[2/18: 8-5 (No: Boulton, Celsi, Hogg, Lykam, J. Smith)]

HF 716 – Firearms requirements for hunting deer

HF 716 makes changes to existing law regarding restrictions on allowed firearms used when hunting deer. Currently, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has a number of rules to limit what firearms and ammunition is used when hunting deer with pistols. The law prohibits the use of shoulder stocks and long-barrel modifications when hunting with a pistol, and only allows the use of center-fire, straight wall ammunition.

The bill would eliminate those restrictions on firearm modifications and ammunition from code. Instead, handgun regulations would mirror federal regulations, meaning more types of firearms and attachments would be allowed. The bill would also restrict the commission from adopting regulations on ammunition outside of stated limits on the size of the projectile. This would allow “necked down” cartridges that are not currently allowed under law.

The bill also removes the prohibition on the use of a pistol for deer hunting by someone under 16. Under the bill, a person under 20 could hunt deer using a pistol as long as they are accompanied by a responsible person with a hunting license who is at least 21.

Firearms advocates are in favor of this legislation because they believe the current law and rules unnecessarily restrict the types of firearms and ammunition that can be used for hunting deer. The federal regulations they want to align with are inconsistent with current hunting regulations that are designed to encourage safe and ethical hunting behavior.
[2/18: 10-3 (No: Celsi, Hogg, J. Smith)]

SSB 3166 – Review of sewer and water distribution line extension by DNR

SSB 3166 would allow the permitting of sewer or water distribution system line extensions for local utilities when the utility retains a qualified licensed engineer who reviews the plans to ensure that they meet standards adopted by law. Legislation passed last year already allows this process for utilities that employ a qualified licensed engineer. This bill will address utilities that retain engineers for these services. The committee adopted an amendment providing for an immediate effective date for the legislation.
[2/18: 13-0]

SF 2203 – Drainage district projects – repairs or improvements

SF 2203 would make changes to the circumstances when a board must require a report regarding projects to repair or construct improvements facilitating the drainage of water within the district.The committee adopted a strike-after amendment and replaced the bill with language that establishes a cost threshold for when an engineer’s report must be filed by the board. The new threshold will be the greater of $50,000 or the adjusted competitive bidding threshold, which is currently $139,000 for vertical infrastructure. Current law requires an engineer’s report when the project’s cost exceeds the threshold for requiring a public hearing, which is $50,000.
[2/18: 13-0]