Natural Resources Committee – Week 7, 2021


SF 311 – Use of dogs to track wounded deer

SF 311 makes a number of changes to legislation that was passed last year. That legislation allowed the use of leashed dogs to track a wounded animal. That legislation required training for the person and the dog being used to track deer. However, there is not an established training program for a person to complete that would satisfy this requirement. The bill removes that requirement.

The committee adopted an amendment to clarify that the dog handler may accompany a hunter to track the deer without having a hunting license of their own.
[2/24: short form (Absent: Hogg, Shipley)]

SF 368 – Changes to the “Bottle Bill”

SF 368 makes changes to the current bottle bill and establishes a future bottle bill model. The bill makes changes to the current system by:

  • Allowing retailers to opt out of collecting returned containers from consumers under the bottle bill system. Currently, all retailers must collect returned containers unless they have designated an approved redemption center. The “participating dealer” framework allows a dealer/retailer to refuse to accept returned containers from customers by sending notice to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It does not place any conditions on the ability of a dealer to refuse to accept containers. This means there is no requirement that another redemption facility be nearby/convenient to the consumer.
  • Requiring that contracts entered into under the bottle bill for the collection or redemption of containers cannot reduce the refund value of a container to less than five cents. Under the current law, a person could accept less than five cents for a returned container, but that would have to be agreed to by all parties. This change would help a remote collection system ensure that they would not be required by a distributor to accept a lower refund value in return for accepting containers that they collected. This protects their business model as well as protecting the economics of the bottle bill system.
  • These changes are effective July 1, 2022.

The bill also establishes the structure for a new bottle bill beginning January 1, 2023:

  • The new system will be under the authority of the Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) and commission instead of DNR.
  • A consumer would be required to pay a five-cent refund value on each beverage container covered by the law. The bill does not expand or change which types of containers are subject to the bottle bill.
  • The consumer would reclaim their refund value by returning containers to a redemption center.
  • Dealers/retailers will submit all refund fees to the state, not the distributor as they do under current law.
  • The refund values are deposited in a refund value fund controlled by ABD. The fund is used to issue reimbursements and handling fees to redemption centers for returned containers as well as covering the administrative costs of issuing the refund value payments.
  • The unclaimed and unused balance of the fund will annually be transferred to the Taxpayer Relief Fund.

The committee adopted an amendment that made a number of changes to the bill:

  • The proposed amendment would increase the handling fee under the current system for redemption centers to two cents per container. Participating dealers would still only receive one cent per container. This change would be effective upon enactment of the bill.
  • The amendment also makes a number of changes to the future system laid out in the bill, including:
    • Establishing a civil penalty for violations of the bottle bill. The penalties are established by the commission and can be assessed by the ABD.
    • Providing for the process of judicial review of enforcement orders issued by ABD for the bottle bill. The procedures are those governed under Iowa Code 17A, the Administrative Procedures Act.
    • Providing ABD authority to request the Attorney General’s office to proceed with legal action against those violating the bottle bill. This authority is similar to how ABD can pursue further legal action for noncompliance with state laws against pollution.
    • Making other technical changes regarding containers not covered by the bottle bill.
      [2/24: 7-4, Party Line (Absent: Hogg, Shipley)]

SF 369 – Game preserve season extension for extreme weather

SF 369 would allow a game preserve to apply to the DNR for an extension to the time period 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 of that season 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.
[2/24: short form (Absent: Hogg, Shipley)]

SF 375 – Revocation of hunting/fishing/camping privileges for littering offenses

SF 375 would require the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to suspend hunting/fishing/trapping licenses and permits for one year following a person having been found guilty of littering/illegal dumping. The commission would also prohibit the person from using camping sites and facilities at state parks and recreation areas for a year.

An amendment would change “shall” in the bill to “may,” granting the NRC discretion in applying the authority to revoke privileges as provided under this proposal.
[2/24: short form (Absent: Hogg, Shipley)]

SF 427 – Deer depredation program and population study

SF 427 would make a number of changes with the goal to increase the deer harvest and reduce the deer population. These changes include:

  • Removing the $1,500 penalty for illegally taking an antlerless deer. The bill also provides that a person convicted of unlawful taking of a deer under this provision on or after July 1, 2020, will be reimbursed the amount paid less $50 (the penalty for illegally taking an animal for which a special penalty has not been set out under the law).
  • Lowering the fee charged for depredation permits issued by the DNR to $2 per permit.
  • Requiring the DNR to allow the use of depredation licenses and permits throughout the months of September to December.
  • Providing for a January rifle season for the purposes of using all unsold antlerless deer hunting licenses that had been allocated for use in a specific county.

The bill also requires the DNR to conduct a deer population study for each county, including a review of environmental impact such as damage to crops and trees because of excessive deer populations and the spread of disease in wildlife, as well as information on property loss, medical costs and fatalities due to deer-vehicle accidents.
[2/24: short form (Absent: Hogg, Shipley)]

SSB 1161 – Requirements for waste tire collectors and processors

SSB 1161 would increase the required surety bond for waste tire haulers from $10,000 to $250,000. It also increases the financial assurance instrument requirement for waste tire collectors and processors from the equivalent of 85 cents per tire to $2.50 per tire on the site.

The committee adopted an amendment to lower the increase in minimum surety bond requirements to $150,000 instead of $250,000.
[2/24: short form (Absent: Hogg, Shipley)]


SF 353 – Drainage district projects: Repairs or improvements

SF 353 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. Under current law, an engineer’s report is necessary when a project’s cost exceeds the threshold for requiring a public hearing, which is $50,000.

The Senate adopted an amendment on the floor that allows unofficial notices to be provided to interested parties by email. It does not remove any other required notice requirements and does not require someone to receive notices by electronic means.
[2/23: 46-2 (No: Celsi, Dotzler; Absent: Nunn, Shipley)]