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Legislative Update from Joe Kelly

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    The second “funnel” or deadline for non-money bills to have passed either the House or Senate, and emerge from a committee in the other legislative chamber is now here.  

Many more bills have been dropped from consideration for the year.  Our only legislative objective, the occupancy bill, did not make the cut this year.  

For the first time this year, we had an occupancy bill pass out of a House and Senate Committee in the same year.  We have yet to see a floor vote on our issue in either the House or Senate.

 

    It’s obvious that we need a new strategy, and we will work on that.  One strategy would be to “double down” on the issue concerning our relationship with cities.  Many chapters are having difficulties with how cities are relating to them.  I would suggest that we package all these grievances into one “omnibus” bill.  

We don’t have to worry about cities getting more engaged because we’re adding material to a bill.  The occupancy bill already has triggered their opposition because of their “home rule” powers.  On the positive side, a larger bill might get more of our chapters engaged in pushing for passage of a bill.

 

   There are a couple of bills left that I am working on.  HE 2183 is a bill that I previously sent out, and it didn’t get much reaction from members.  The bill has two sections, and the first section applies to everyone around the state.  

The second section involves allowing a private water company in Eastern Iowa to have an agreement with the cities they serve.  In Clinton, for example, the city charges for sewer, and the private water company charges for the water.

Apparently lots of homeowners in Clinton will pay for their water bill, but not the sewer bill, knowing that the water service can’t be shut off.  HE 2183 would allow for the private water company and the public cities they serve to work together so that the options available to cities that control both water and sewer to be available to cities served by the private water company.  If HF 2183 passes, it would allow the city to shut off water, if the sewer bills aren’t paid.

    That’s not the part of the bill that has caught my attention.  The bill would allow cities to sue people who owe them money for water, sewer, and city enterprise charges.  I don’t mind that.  I believe cities already have this power.  

What I don’t like is that the lawsuit has to be filed in district court.  I think that gives an unfair advantage to cities.  Since small claims courts have jurisdictional authority for money damages of amounts up to $5000, I think the cities should follow that procedure like everyone else does.  Plus, there are differences in procedural matters in district court.  

It’s not prohibited for individuals to represent themselves in district court; however, it is not advised.  I will be seeking an amendment to remedy this matter.

    The other change I will seek is to make sure that, in this new section of the law, these few cities affected by the private water company have to follow all the procedural protections in 384.84 which are afforded to landlords. 

For example, if the landlord requests, the city has to notify the landlord that a tenant has requested a hearing when the water service is to be discontinued, meaning that the water box will be turned off.  We know that damages do occur times when this is done.  The property owner, i.e., the landlord is responsible.  

Another section of the law requires, if a landlord has requested, notification to the landlord when a lien is about to be filed.  Of course, this part is moot if landlords have taken advantage of the law in notifying the city that a property is a rental property and keep updated the names of the current tenants.

   

http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&menu=false&ga=85&hbill=HF2183

 

SF 366 was passed last year by the Senate.  The bill would have required all new residential construction to have building standards to prevent high levels of radon.  SF 366 is scheduled for debate in the House on Monday.  The House has an amendment which will completely rewrite the bill.  The amendment will make the bill now apply only to schools.

 

SF 366 A bill for an act relating to radon control and making penalties applicable.

http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&menu=false&ga=85&hbill=H8114

 

There is another bill moving in the legislature that has a potential impact on landlords.  It’s SF 2310, a bill making owners of premises liable if they knowingly allow underage persons to consume alcoholic beverages in and on the property  SF 2310 passed out of the House Public Safety Committee yesterday.  An amendment passed the committee lowering the age to under the age of 18.  The amendment further limited the scope of the bill so that owners of rental properties, who do not live on site, are exempt.

Sincerely,

Joe Kelly

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