Rural Matters

State Government Restructure and Post-Funnel Survivors

Sue Rural Matters formatted

Updated 7:57 a.m. CT March 15, 2023

March has brought state government restructuring proposal, Eminent Domain, and several post-funnel bills to be debated in the coming weeks.

Updates as of 03/14:

Eminent Domain

The Judiciary Committee passed HSB 565 out of committee before the funnel deadline. This bill contains good protections for landowners, with 90% voluntary easement requirements before eminent domain can be used. It also protects county supervisors — by allowing them to enact ordinances that protect the county and landowners from CO2 lawsuits. Additionally, a provision was included that the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) cannot grant CO2 construction permits until all other states involved in the project have granted their CO2 construction permits. With the bill up for debate in the house in the next couple of weeks it is expected there will be proposed amendments to some of these items. We are strongly urging representatives to pass the bill as presented. This is not anti-ethanol and does not block the CO2 pipeline — but it gives landowners strong protection during the process. 

I expect movement on this bill this week or next. If you feel strongly regarding this legislation — it is time to be in contact with your representative and senator! 

A recent Des Moines Register poll shows that 3 out of 4 Iowans oppose pipelines using eminent domain to build on private land. 

Ag initiatives from the USDA

The USDA unveiled numerous programs that were shared at the Corn Board Manufacturing news conference on March 8 hosted by Landus in the Des Moines Connector Office. Theresa Greenfield, Iowa state director, USDA Rural Development, and Matt Russell, state executive director, USDA Farm Service Agency, shared how the USDA can be seen as an investment partner in 2023 to keep Iowa farmers’ best interests as the focal point of developing ag and manufacturing industries throughout rural Iowa with low-interest loans and grant programs for their farms and small businesses. 

Read our blog on Corn Board’s announcement on National Biobased Products day.

H.F. 225 Restricted CDL 

Farmers, agribusinesses, custom harvesters, farm retail outlets, livestock feeders, and their employees can now have a restricted CDL driver's license for 210 days out of the year and operate within a 150-mile range of the business or farm. This bill passed unanimously out of the Iowa House and allows less restrictive rules on testing and qualifications for temporary truckers to provide for agricultural trucking shortages during spring and fall peak demands. 

Track the bill here.

Rural Emergency Hospital Legislation Advances

This week the House passed Senate File 75, a bill to license Rural Emergency Hospitals in Iowa. This bill passed 97-1, to ensure access to emergency care in rural areas. This bill financially strengthens rural hospitals with this designation they will receive additional federal money to enable continued rural emergency services. 

Discussion: State Government Reorganization 

Iowa Senators have approved a massive 1,524-page bill to reorganize Iowa’s state governments, shrinking the number of cabinet-level agencies from 37 down to 16. This bill will give Governor Reynolds more power over appointments, firings, and salaries of state employees. Senate File Bill 514 is designed to save the government money, streamline processes, and is estimated to save $215 million over four years. 

While saving money in the form of smaller government, the concern is that the new bill gives the executive branch privileges that are traditionally left to legislative branch functions. With amendments in this bill, processes put in place for oversight that determine the approval of some governor appointees for committees are bypassed. The bill also removes term limits for gubernatorial appointees. 

Here’s a list of departments that are being consolidated with a great article by the Capital Dispatch outlining the changes coming with the proposal: 

  • The Department of Health and Human Services — already the result of a merger — would incorporate the Department on Aging and the Department of Human Rights. 
  • The Department of Health and Human Services would also take over the administration of programs such as Early Childhood Iowa and Volunteer Iowa. 
  • The Department of Revenue would take charge of the Alcoholic Beverages Division and the Iowa Lottery Authority. 
  • The Department of Public Safety would absorb the Office of Drug Control Policy. 
  • The Department of Education would establish a new higher education division to encompass the Board of Educational Examiners, the College Student Aid Commission and the Community Colleges Bureau. 
  • The Department of Inspections and Appeals would become the Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing. It would house the Civil Rights Commission, as well as the Division of Labor and the Division of Workers' Compensation. 
  • This bill also would give the state’s attorney general more leeway to prosecute cases at the county level — even without the blessing of the county attorney.

By consolidating all of these departments, the governor’s jurisdiction stretches into departments that would’ve otherwise been separated from the executive branch’s power. In addition to the updated jurisdiction, representation from several state agencies are compromised in state government as they would be grouped into a one-size-fits-all approach to their missions. 

This bill has passed the Senate and is on its way to the House floor in the coming days. Follow the Iowa Legislature Bill Tracking tool to stay updated with the status of this bill and any amendments added to protect rural Iowa. 

The legislative process will continue at a fast pace as the second funnel date is at the end of March. Landus will continue to watch and weigh in on legislation that affects our members and rural Iowa. As always, let us know your policy thoughts and questions via email at Another way to communicate on policy is by attending the Innovation Connector events in March and connecting with us at our policy display. 

Working together on rural matters.