Gas Tax Advances, Statute Of Repose Comes Out of Repose


SSB3141, a bill that would increase Iowa’s gas tax by five cents per year in 2013 and 2014, took another tentative step forward this week when it was voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill would also increase registration fees for new vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles. The House version of the bill, HSB547, advanced out of subcommittee on Monday as well. It would raise the gas tax by four cents per year in 2013 and 2014. A somewhat unusual alignment of lobbying groups support the legislation, including the Associated General Contractors, local governments, Farm Bureau Federation, and the Bankers’ Association among others. Although discussions continue at the capitol, the gas tax bills remain in a precarious political position after earlier this fall Governor Branstad stepped away from recommendations to raise the gas tax and increase some registration fees made by his Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Committee.  The Committee recommended raising, at least an additional $215 million annually to address the critical needs in road and bridge infrastructure in the State. The Governor stopped short of saying he’d veto a bill, but the possibility remains. Instead, he asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to find $50 million in efficiencies to be put back into the Road Use Tax Fund. With the added wild card effect of an upcoming election year (and a year after redistricting at that), many groups will be watching this legislation closely as session continues.

Shifting gears to property-related legislation, a subcommittee was held this week on SSB3090, a bill that would prohibit cities from implementing ordinances regulating rental housing occupancy based on familial or non-familial relationships, and instead limit any such regulation to a restriction on square footage. Under the bill, a city would not be able to restrict the number of unrelated occupants of a rental property. The League of cities and individual cities in attendance at the subcommittee stated that while the square footage restriction may go to safety concerns like ensuring occupants have access to adequate fire exits, regulating based on square footage alone does not get to the other aims of these regulations such as nuisance type concerns about excessive parking, noise and trash, nor to concerns about preserving the character of single family or historic neighborhoods and the property values of the homes in them. The bill was not signed out of subcommittee, because the Senators said they would like more time to study the issue.

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