Appropriations Committee – Week 9, 2020


SF 2401/SF 2371—Underground Storage Tanks Program, Replacement and Remediation

SF 2371 would establish the Iowa Tanks Fund and Iowa Tanks Fund Financing Program to replace the existing Iowa comprehensive petroleum underground storage tank fund and board. The new fund and financing program would replace the existing UST fund and board that is responsible for underground storage tank replacement and contaminated site remediation with a process handled within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The current program has been in place for more than 30 years and has facilitated the closure and clean-up of more than 1,000 leaking underground storage tank sites across the state. Fewer than 100 sites remain to be closed, though some sites that are classified as “no further action” (NFA) do re-enter the program when the site shows evidence of unmitigated contamination that threatens groundwater or drinking water supplies.

The bill ensures five years of future funding for fuel-quality testing by the Iowa Fuels Laboratory at Iowa Central Community College though the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). This program is currently paid out of the same source of money that will become the new Iowa Tanks Fund. The bill also clarifies that the fund can be used to pay for action at sites that have been classified as no further action. In committee, an amendment was adopted requiring IDALS to study long-term future fuel testing needs in Iowa, and how to maximize and leverage the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory at Iowa Central Community College.
[3/3: short form (Excused: Wahls)]

SF 2405/SF 2267 – Veterans Trust Fund investments  

SF 2405/SF 2267 authorizes the investment of Veterans Trust Fund (VTF) moneys in any investments authorized for the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (97B.7A) through the Treasurer of State. It also eliminates the ability to use VTF moneys for cash flow purposes in a fiscal year.
[3/9: short form (Excused: Breitbach)]

SF 2406/SF 2314– IFA disaster recovery homeowner assistance program 

SF 2406/SF 2314 establishes a Disaster Recovery Homeowner Assistance Program and Fund administered by the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA). The purpose is to provide forgivable loans to eligible owners of disaster-affected homes. It allows unobligated and unencumbered moneys in certain IFA revolving loan funds to be transferred into the new Disaster Recovery Homeowner Assistance Fund. Those funds are the Senior Living Program, Home and Community-Based Program, Transitional Housing Program, and the Community Housing and Services for Persons with Disabilities Program.

In addition, the bill permits IFA to transfer unobligated and unencumbered moneys from any IFA fund (notwithstanding any other law to the contrary) for deposit in the new Disaster Recovery Homeowner Assistance Fund without* the prior written consent and approval of the Governor and the Department of Management. The bill also allows the Executive Director of IFA to transfer unobligated and unencumbered money from any fund under Iowa Economic Development Authority to the Disaster Homeowner Assistance Fund with the written approval of the Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and without* the approval of the Governor. IFA cannot use more than 5% of the money in the fund at the beginning of a fiscal year for administrative costs.

A “disaster-affected home” means a primary residence that is destroyed or damaged due to a natural disaster that occurs on or after the effective date of this act in a county subject to disaster emergency proclamation by the Governor that authorizes disaster recovery homeowner assistance. It also means a primary residence that is destroyed or damaged due to a natural disaster that occurred on or after March 12, 2019, but before the effective date of this act.

IFA will provide the funds to local program administrators to award the forgivable loans. “Local program administrator” means certain large cities in Iowa, a Council of Government and a qualified local organization or governmental entity as determined by rules as adopted by IFA.

The bill lists requirements to be eligible for a forgivable loan for a homeowner:

  • Home sustained damage greater than the damage that is covered by insurance or federal disaster-related financial assistance that a homeowner is eligible to receive.
  • A local program administrator must deem the home suitable for rehabilitation or damaged beyond reasonable repair.
  • Home cannot be proposed for buyout by the county or city.

The loan may be used for repair or rehabilitation or down-payment assistance on the purchase of replacement housing. The maximum forgivable loan award will be determined by IFA by rule. The forgivable loan must have a five-year term and be interest free. The bill takes effect upon enactment.

*An amendment was adopted in committee to tighten up the requirements for transfers of unobligated other funds from IFA and IEDA. The transfer of moneys will have to get prior written approval from the Governor. The amendment strikes the language in which the disaster case manager was determining the homeowner’s eligibility. The local program administrators will determine eligibility.  
[3/9: short form (Excused: Breitbach)]


SF 2400 – Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant program

SF 2400 relates to broadband service under the Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO), the Empower Rural Iowa broadband grant fund and certain broadband infrastructure tax exemptions. The OCIO will use different speed standards for mapping and for grant awards. In mapping, eligibility is based on whether a provider facilitates 25/3 or faster service in a U.S. Census block. Grant eligibility for varying funding levels is determined by different speed thresholds the provider promises to facilitate. It implements a tiered award system, increasing the percentage of funding an applicant may seek and be awarded depending on buildout speeds. Projects that provide levels greater than or equal to 100 mbps download and 20 mbps upload may receive up to 35% in grant funds. Projects that provide lower speed levels receive up to 15% in grant funds. SF 2400 makes conforming changes related to the change in name of the fund from the Connecting Iowa Farms, Schools and Communities Broadband Grant Fund to the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Fund. There is a Code change to allow the OCIO to use moneys in the fund to pay the costs and expenses associated with the administration and operation of the grant program. The bill takes effect upon enactment.
[3/10: 48-0 (Excused: Breitbach, Feenstra)]