Rural Matters

Rural Matters: January Recap and New Horizons

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DES MOINES, Iowa (February 1, 2023)— The Iowa legislative session had a monumental January. For only being in session for twenty-three days, the legislature wasted no time in passing the controversial “school choice” (voucher/ESA) bill into law. Based on the vigorous interaction of the citizens of Iowa with their legislators about the bill, the $345 million per year price tag is certainly a concern that state tax money would be used for Education Saving Accounts. The future effect on rural communities, rural schools and our farmer-owners remains to be seen. While the bill is signed into law, there is still much to watch on education spending and rule changes on education at the Capitol. Landus will continue to monitor and engage in activity that affects rural Iowa, our employees and our members. 

With the “school choice” bill now law, the next topic that we’re tracking is eminent domain. A topic so big — Senator Jeff Taylor of Sioux Center, has introduced five bills to protect land-owners' rights. There continues to be additional eminent bills being presented by both House and Senate members. This promises to be a lengthy and vigorous discussion as farmers’ property rights are at stake on one side and big private money is on the other. 

Eminent domain is a government power that takes private property for public use for the betterment of the general public. The earliest use of eminent domain occurred in 1879; in the case of Boom Co. v. Patterson. However, the eminent domain definition we recognize today was structured in 1896 in the case of United States v. Gettysburg Electric Ry. The policy was created with the purpose of installing public utilities like electric transmission lines, telephone lines, designating national park sites, etc. To read more about the history of eminent domain, check out the justice department’s History of the Federal Use of Eminent Domain page.

Currently, there are three companies planning on building pipelines to transport captured carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in the state. Summit Carbon Solutions is heading up its Project Footprint pipeline. Navigators CO2 Ventures is working on the Heartland Greenway pipeline. Archer Daniel Midlands Co. is partnered with Wolf Carbon Solutions to work on its Mt. Siom Hub pipeline. Across all of these projects, the science of the pipelines remains the same: capture CO2 from ethanol and fertilizer processors across five states and transport the liquid CO2 to permanently store millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide more than a mile underground.

Landus knows that a farmer’s soil is their most valuable asset. Farmers spend hundreds of dollars per acre to improve their farm soil structure and health with the addition of tile, nutrients and conservation practices. The issues that impacted farms that were damaged when the Dakota Access Pipeline went through northern Iowa are still showing up several years later. Landus will monitor and weigh in with legislators on the bills presented from the point of concern of 1) private property rights of the landowner 2) protection from damages to farmland by the pipeline construction 3) safety concerns of a highly pressurized hazardous material being transported through rural Iowa and communities 4) this is a private company project done for profit – not a public utility – thus should not be granted eminent domain power to take private land away from landowners that do not want to participate in the pipeline project. 

The 2023 legislative session has a full agenda of important bills to Iowans. There is much to still discuss on future topics that concern your tax dollars and your communities. Civic engagement is crucial to rural communities, and #TheLandusWay will always be present in our efforts at the state house. Stay tuned to Rural Matters so you are informed about what’s happening in your community. 

Working together on rural matters