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Sunday Talk: Stone on the 14th Legislative Week

by State Representative Henry Stone

Week 14 of session wasn’t as full of legislative business as the recent weeks have been. However, on Tuesday, we put in place some long-overdue improvements to Iowa’s can and bottle deposit system. The session is coming close to the end, but we are currently waiting for the Senate to either pass or amend the budget bills that the House sent over.

The extra free time that I had this week allowed me to put the finishing touches on my website. My website will make it easier to learn about me and to reach out to me. The website has been published and can be found HERE. Be sure to take a look and let me know what you think!

House Republicans Pass Improvements to the Bottle Bill System

The current bottle deposit and redemption system has become outdated. One primary issue is the lack of redemption centers and viable and convenient options for redeeming cans and bottles. Many of the parties on all sides of the issue are ignoring the law without any consequences. Significant work was done last year that makes changes to the system. That work continued this year and this week the House passed a bottle bill reform measure that makes the bottle deposit and redemption system one that works for today’s consumers.

Senate File 2378 takes many positive steps toward improving the current system. It increases the handling fee for redemption centers and retailers to take empty containers to three cents per container. It also gives retailers the ability to opt-out of taking empty containers back if they meet one of the following criteria:
1) retailer has a food establishment license and has a certified food protection manager on site,
2) retailer has an agreement with a mobile redemption system, or
3) the retailer is within the radius of a redemption center based on the convenience standard for their county.

House Republicans also worked to ensure several consumer protections were included in the bill. These include ensuring the convenience standard (the required radius for redemption centers based on a county’s population) remains the law, encouraging additional redemption centers and retailers to take back empty containers by increasing the handling fee to three cents per container, and adding enforcement mechanisms to ensure the law is enforced.

Senate File 2378 as amended, also enhances enforcement by strengthening fines and enabling the DNR and attorney general to work together to ensure all stakeholders – retailers, distributors, redemption centers, and recyclers are following the law. Finally, the bill establishes a legislative review committee that will meet ahead of the 2026 legislative session to review how the law is working and report back to the legislature its findings and recommendations.

The current bottle deposit and redemption system have not been updated in over 40 years. These are positive changes for all Iowans that ensure consumers can conveniently redeem their empty containers.

Governor Announces $100 Million for “Destination Iowa”

The Governor recently announced a new campaign called “Destination Iowa” and allocated $100 million toward the program’s quality of life projects in Iowa’s communities. The project’s goal is to attract visitors and new residents to the state. Cities, counties, nonprofits, and other organizations can apply for Destination Iowa grants from four separate funds: Economically Significant Development, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism Attraction, and Creative Placemaking.

Applications will start being accepted on May 9, 2022. Funded projects must be completed by June 30, 2026. Funding is being made available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

A webinar will be held on Friday, April 15, at 10 a.m. to explain the program and answer questions from potential applicants. If you are unable to join the webinar live, the recording will be posted at the top of this page and under the Resources section of each fund page.

State Patrol Cracking Down on Drugged Driving

“If you feel different, you drive different” that’s the message the Iowa State Patrol wants you to remember. Medication, alcohol, and illegal drugs can all impact how a person drives that’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau are working with state and local law enforcement officers to stop impaired driving.

April 20th is often referred to as a marijuana holiday so the State Patrol and others will be increasing enforcement to keep everyone safe. Beginning April 19th through April 22, the Iowa State Patrol and other law enforcement departments will have extra officers out to combat impaired driving. While some may think driving after using marijuana isn’t a big deal, the statistics show otherwise. From 2009 to 2018 the number of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for marijuana nearly doubled. In 2018, 46% of drivers killed in crashes who were tested, were found to have drugs in their system.

If you are impaired, in any way, plan on having a safe ride. The Department of Public Safety offers these tips to help keep everyone safe:
•  If you have used an impairing substance such as marijuana, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.
•  If you are drug-impaired, pass the keys to a sober driver who can safely drive to the destination. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.
•  Do you have a friend who is about to drive while impaired by drugs? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone — they’ll thank you later.

Iowa Senate Approves Veteran Appointees

This week, the Iowa Senate unanimously approved Matthew Peterson as Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home and Steven Lukan as Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the Governor’s press releases announcing their appointments:

“Peterson’s 20-year career and seven deployments in the Marine Corps infantry have placed him in a wide range of leadership positions spanning thirty countries and five continents. Since retiring from the military, he has directed a working ranch and currently serves as the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, as well as a high school teacher. Peterson holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Government from New Mexico State University. He also received a master’s degree in Political Science from Liberty University and another in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. He is a fifth-generation Iowan from Red Oak.”

“Lukan is a former state representative, serving Iowa House District 32 from 2003-12. From 2008-12, he assisted in guiding the House Republican Caucus as assistant leader. During Lukan’s time in the Iowa House, he also chaired the House Economic Development Appropriations Committee, championed the creation of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and enacted legislation to help disabled veterans through the establishment of the Veterans Trust Fund.” Lukan also served as director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy before being appointed as Iowa VA executive director in 2017.

“Lukan served four years in the U.S. Navy, earning four promotions and obtaining the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and Navy Achievement Medal.”


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