Rural Matters

Rural Matters: Post-February Updates + Eminent Domain Clarity

Rural Matters Eminent Domain 022823

Updated 8:58 a.m. CT March 3, 2023

It’s “funnel week” at the statehouse! This means that all proposed bills must pass out of subcommittees and committees to ensure they survive the funnel. While there’s still lots of work to get done and plenty of session left, this week is a sprint to get bills through the committees' process in order to be eligible to have debate and become law. 

Updates as of 02/27 on: 

School Vouchers

A continued concern with the educational savings accounts law is private schools receiving these public dollars, need to participate in standardized testing.

Language in Iowa House File 68 states, "Each pupil participating in the education savings account program is required to take all applicable state and federally required student assessments and the results of those assessments shall be provided to the pupil's parents or guardians and reported to the Department of Education.” 

Property Tax Relief

Items that relate to Iowa property taxes: Senate File 181 was recently passed into Law on February 20. This File fixes an error from the 2021 property tax law which provided incorrect budget information to cities, counties, and school districts from the Iowa Department of Revenue. Correcting this error is expected to cost cities $39 million a year in lost revenue. It was passed unanimously in the Senate. 

House File 1 is still in the subcommittee. This bill aims to reduce Iowans’ property tax costs. While this is still in subcommittee, local governments have voiced their dissatisfaction with this proposed legislation. This bill being out so early in the session is setting the precedent that there’s a larger conversation around the future of Iowa’s property tax contemporary format. 

Senate Study Bill 1124 would cap general property tax levies for cities and counties and reduce the value at which properties are assessed. Senate Study Bill 1124 has advanced past the Ways and Means Committee and is now Senate File 356. Chair of the Senate’s Committee on Tax Policy, Sen. Dan Dawson, states that Iowans want two conflicting things: 1) That we want quality services that property taxes help fund, and 2) Iowans’ property taxes are too high, and the system is stacked against them. 

Trucker Tort Reform

The Senate passed legislation Wednesday to limit the noneconomic damages a victim in an accident involving a trucking company can receive. Senate File 228 put a $2 million cap on noneconomic damages in lawsuits against trucking companies whose employees cause injury, death, or other damages while on the job. This bill will give added liability protections to all truckers — farmers and the cooperative. 


Eminent Domain

Last week House Bill 368 passed out of committee. This bill addresses carbon capture pipeline projects and eminent domain. This bill had over 20 cosponsors in the Iowa House including Speaker of the House, Pat Grassley. 

This bill provides additional landowner protections as three major CO2 pipeline projects are in the works in Iowa. The major components of this bill are: 

  • Requires carbon capture pipeline companies to reach voluntary easements for 90% of the land on their route before they could seek to use eminent domain. 
  • Grants landowners the right to sue companies for damages caused by pipelines for issues such as drainage, soil compaction and irrigation systems. 
  • Requires CO2 pipeline companies to get all necessary permits in other states before attempting to use eminent domain in Iowa.

The 90% threshold in this bill was brought to Iowa Legislature by the Iowa Farm Bureau. 

Rural Matters has covered eminent domain bills for four weeks straight. Since our last entry, we’ve seen good news from restricting eminent domain use. While all five of Sen. Jeff Taylor’s (R) - Sioux Center, bills have been stalled in subcommittee. Anti-eminent domain rallies have reeled in an impressive number of supporters. 

To reiterate the stance Landus has taken, this isn’t an anti-pipeline issue. While we question the science and value of the CO2 pipelines in the actual cost versus benefit analysis, the real concern is the attempt to enforce eminent domain against landowners for a project that is a for-profit, privately owned entity. 

There are some misconceptions being promoted by the biofuels industry that we’d like to clear up: 

The ethanol industry is healthy — setting record volumes and profits this past year. While there’s a certain ethanol association pushing misleading reports out suggesting the ethanol industry would “die” if pipelines aren’t built, Landus believes the ethanol industry will continue to be an ongoing part of the Iowa economy. A recent biofuels funded study was intended to “scare pipeline opponents into submission.” 

CO2 pipeline companies will continue to suggest that they’re being unfairly singled out. The reality: this isn’t a pipeline issue — it’s a property/farmer-owner's rights issue. A private, for private company should not be able to force a landowner to give up their property for a private company project, and Landus will continue to support our members’ property rights. 

Why is Landus advocating so vigorously to protect landowner property rights against eminent domain seizure? Because loosening eminent domain laws set a precedent that will affect the security and rights of all landowners in future projects where eminent domain may be more easily accessed in the future. 

Landus will continue to act on its cooperative model of doing for farmers what they can’t do for themselves. As this topic progresses through the legislative session, we’ll keep you updated on the next steps for this subject. 

What do you think?

A cooperative is a community, and we value each of your opinions and unique perspectives. We’ll be adding links to polls on our Facebook page and our GROW on the Go newsletter, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook and subscribed to our newsletters! Engage with us and your legislators. 

If you would like to contact your legislators, here’s how to find their contact information. 

If you have questions, comments or concerns about any of this information, contact Sue Tronchetti, Landus external affairs lead, at or 515-370-0232. We want to hear from you!

Working together on rural matters.