Bill restricting storm water, top soil retention resurfaces; Bettendorf senator's bill passes House

Iowa Capital Dispatch
March 11, 2024

The Iowa House passed legislation Monday on local storm water and top soil regulation after the same bill failed last week.

Senate File 455 had failed to pass with a 44-49 vote last week. House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl filed a motion for reconsideration following the vote Wednesday, and on Monday, the motion was approved. The bill then passed in a 53-46 vote.

The measure would prohibit local regulations on stormwater runoff that are more restrictive than current flow rates based on return frequencies of five years. It also would prohibit local regulations related to topsoil preservation, compaction, placement or depth that are more restrictive than requirements set by the Department of Natural Resources and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

House lawmakers adopted an amendment to the legislation last week to allow local governments to impose more restrictive regulations, if the local governments pays for the any increased costs of implementation compared to the state or federal standards outlined by the legislation.

Though there was no debate on the bill Monday, there were still some Republicans who voted against the bill. The measure was criticized by Democrats in debate Wednesday for preventing Iowa cities and counties from taking steps to stop property damage and ensure residents’ safety, as many Iowa communities are facing more extreme weather events and flooding.

Rep. Jerome Amos Jr., D-Waterloo, argued last week that the amended bill would shift the costs of safety measures from developers to taxpayers. But Rep. Jon Dunwell, R-Newton, the bill’s floor manager, said restricting local regulations will make new housing more affordable.

The Senate passed the bill last year. Following the House vote, it moves back to the Senate for consideration of the amended version.

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