Commerce Committee – Week 12, 2021


HF 555 – Regulations of natural gas, propane sales in cities, counties

HF 555 (SF 455) prohibits a county or a city from regulating, adopting, enforcing or administering an ordinance, motion, resolution or amendment that bans, impedes, restricts or regulates the use of propane and natural gas as a power source. It grandfathers in current agreements, such LP tanks in counties, cities and municipal utilities, and exempts franchise agreements, which are subject to other state laws and regulations.

Supporters maintain this ensures that consumers have access to diverse energy options to keep the lights, power and heat on. They note that the National Propane Gas Association and the American Gas Association are working to position propane and natural gas as part of the clean energy future, and protect propane and natural gas from actions that would ban or curtail their use.

Opponents say the bill is unnecessary, that no city or county in Iowa has proposed restricting natural gas or propane, and the proposal only stifles flexibility and opportunities for innovation.  Sen. Quirmbach offered an amendment (.1698) that would allow regulation by counties and cities, and specified that the legislation must not be interpreted to restrict a county or city from promoting alternative energy. The amendment lost 18-27 (Yes: Democrats, Rozenboom).

Those registered in favor include ABI, Iowa Propane Gas Association, Iowa Utility Association, Alliant, MidAmerican, Iowa Home Builders Association, FUELIowa (Petroleum Marketers), Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Black Hills Energy and Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. Opponents include Iowa State Association of Counties, Association of County Supervisors, Iowa League of Cities, County Planning and Zoning Officials of Iowa, Iowa Environmental Council, Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Iowa Sierra Club.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 57-36 (most Democrats voting “no”).
[3/29: 29-16 (Yes: Republicans, Kinney, Lykam; No: Democrats, Lofgren; Excused: Driscoll, Hogg, Kraayenbrink, Nunn, Sweeney)]


HF 304 – Personal delivery devices

HF 304 relates to personal delivery devices (PDD), such as Amazon’s “Scout” or the FedEx’s “Roxo.” A PDD is a battery-powered land device that can operate autonomously but has human oversight and can be controlled remotely if the need arises. A PDD can detect obstacles, change speeds and stop, and is used by companies to deliver goods to customers who choose to use their service. PDDs are primarily used in urban environments and are designed to be operated where a pedestrian can walk, including crosswalks. The House amended the original proposal by increasing the amount of general liability insurance coverage the business must maintain from $100,000 to $500,000 for damages arising from the operation of the device.

The Commerce Committee adopted an amendment that establishes fees and directs the Department of Transportation to adopt rules and administer registration and collection. A business entity must annually register each PDD operated by the business and pay a fee of $50 per device. Fees will go to the Road Use Tax Fund. It also lowers the speed of PDDs in pedestrian areas from 12 miles per hour to six miles per hour, requires PDDs to travel on the far right when on a roadway, and allows a local authority to ban operation of PDDs on roads and pedestrian areas in its jurisdiction if the operation constitutes a safety hazard.

The bill passed the House 90-1.
[3/31: 15-2 (No: Petersen, Quirmbach)]

HF 498 – Practices of Performing Rights Societies

HF 498 requires agents or representatives of performing rights societies that license non-dramatic musical public performances, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), to clearly identify themselves to a proprietor and to set up an appointment to discuss a contract for payment of royalties for the public performance of copyrighted musical works by the proprietor. The appointment must be during business hours, or if the proprietor or the proprietor’s agent agree, at a location other than the business, or at the business when it is not open to the public.

It also prohibits attempts to collect royalties in excess of a contract or attempts to mislead or threaten a proprietor by stating or implying the they represent a public body, regulatory or law enforcement agency. “Proprietor” is defined as a retail establishment, restaurant, inn, bar or tavern owner. The definition also includes similar businesses where the public may assemble and non-dramatic musical works may be performed, broadcasted or transmitted.

HF 498 passed the House on a 96-0 vote.
[3/31: short form]

HF 606 – Approval of High-Quality Jobs Program licensed daycare

HF 606states that the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) may consider an onsite daycare center as a factor in business eligibility for the High-Quality Jobs Program. Information about including proposed childcare projects will be on the High-Quality Jobs application. IEDA sees this as an incentive to allow a higher score for a business that will provide a licensed onsite childcare facility.

HF 606 by Ways and Means passed the House 91-2.
[3/31: short form]

HF 730 – Rental vehicle deposits

HF 730 allows car rental companies to place a hold on credit cards for incidentals, such as refueling, or for damages. The maximum hold amount must be clearly stated in the rental agreement. This brings parity to the industry as hotels already can place a hold on credit cards. It is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for the amount of the block or charge to exceed the estimated total daily or weekly charges and rental deposit stated in the rental agreement.

Alamo, Enterprise and National car rental companies support the legislation. The Iowa Travel Federation, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Iowa Auto Dealers Association are registered as monitoring, and there are no declarations in opposition.
[3/31: short form]

HF 775 – Recording devices on private property – Agricultural Animals

HF 775 establishes the crime of unauthorized sampling under Iowa Code section 716.14. A person commits unauthorized sampling if they knowingly enter private property without consent of the owner or any other person having real or apparent authority to grant consent, and obtain samples of any materials. A first offense of unauthorized sampling is an aggravated misdemeanor. Second or subsequent offenses are Class “D” felonies. An aggravated misdemeanor is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $8,450. A Class “D” felony is punishable by incarceration of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,245.

Agricultural animals include bovine (cows), caprine (goats), equine (horse), ovine (sheep), porcine (pigs), farm deer, ostriches, rheas, emus, turkeys, chickens, domestic geese or ducks, domestic fowl, honey bees, or fish or aquatic organisms confined to private waters for human consumption. Agricultural crops are any plant produced for food, animal feed, fiber, oil or fuel if the plant is classified as a forage or cereal plant. Agricultural crops specifically include alfalfa, barley, buckwheat, corn, flax, forage, hemp, millet, oats, popcorn, rye, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, wheat, or grasses used for forage or silage. Noxious weeds are not considered an agricultural crop unless the plant is produced as a research crop.

HF 775 also creates Iowa Code section 727.8A to provide that a person committing a trespass and knowingly places or uses a camera or electronic surveillance device that transmits or records images or data while the device is on the property commits an aggravated misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class D felony for a second offense.

HF 775 passed the House on a 72-24 vote.
[3/31: 12-5 (No: Lykam, Mathis, Petersen, Quirmbach, Wahls)]