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Monday's Winneshiek County Conservation-organized bus trip to the State Capitol was at least a partial success

Posted: Tue, Mar 5, 2019 2:50 PM

A bus trip to Des Moines on Monday, organized by Winneshiek County Conservation, has paid off at least partially.

The conservation agency sponsored the bus trip so people could voice their opposition to two pieces of legislation being considered in Des Moines--House File 542 and Senate Bill 1221.  Opponents of the legislation say the bills, if passed, would cripple conservation projects in Iowa.

House File 542 would prohibit the state, counties and cities from expanding parks, wildlife habitat areas and trails by any amount.  Funding could not be used for expansion of open spaces and new recreational amenities, including public museums.

Following a public hearing Monday which was attended by people on the bus trip from Decorah, the House subcommittee reviewing the bill did not advance it to the full House Natural Resources Committee.  That means the bill does not currently have a path of advancement to the full committee and if no action is taken by this Friday, the bill will be dead.

People on the bus trip were not as successful in getting legislators to drop Senate Bill 1221, although the Senate bill was seen as somewhat less drastic a measure.  The bill passed out of subcommittee on a 2-1 vote Monday and will now advance to the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee. 

The bill eliminates the use of State Revolving Fund for public land acquisition for water quality purposes and eliminates the Charitable Contribution for Conservation Tax Credit.  Supporters of the State Revolving Fund argue that the fund is an effective water quality protection program that benefits both conservation and farmers and that eliminating this water quality protection program would be detrimental to ongoing water issues in Iowa.