PIPELINE BILL STALLED
A bill that would have set a few new ground rules for carbon pipelines has stalled in the Senate. Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, led debate of the bill in the House, where it passed on a 73-to-20 vote.
The bill would have required that 90 percent of a carbon pipeline’s route be secured through voluntary agreements before eminent domain authority from the state could be used to compel other landowners to sign easements.
Today (Thursday) is the last day of the legislature’s work week and also the deadline for policy bills from the House to have cleared a Senate committee. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls (like “walls”) of Coralville says Republicans who control the senate’s debate agenda could have at least scheduled a subcommittee hearing on the bill.
It’s possible some of the elements of the bill could be tacked onto a budget bill next month. There’s also a chance state regulators’ review of the pipeline projects might extend into early 2024. Holt says that means it might be possible for next year’s legislature to revisit the issue.
The proposed Wolf pipeline to capture carbon from A-D-M plants is about 300 miles long and the developer says it’s getting voluntary access to the route and will not need to seek eminent domain authority.
The other pipeline developers are expected to ask the Iowa Utilities Board for eminent domain authority to secure easements from landowners who haven’t voluntarily granted access to their properties.
Navigator’s pipeline would stretch about 800 miles through 33 Iowa counties. The Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline would be about 680 miles long and pass through 29 counties. Both pipelines are proposed to extend through Plymouth County.
Advocates say the pipelines will make ethanol a low-carbon fuel by capturing and shipping carbon from Iowa ethanol plants to underground storage sites in Illinois and North Dakota.
COUNTY ATTORNEY PLEADS GUILTY
Former Dickinson County Attorney Amy Zenor has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication — and court documents are suggesting it was carbs, not alcohol, that caused her to appear drunk.
On November 10th, the Dickinson County Sheriff’s office was notified someone in the county courthouse was drunk.
Zenor was arrested and the county board of supervisors accepted her resignation as county attorney a few weeks later.
According to the Iowa Capital Dispatch, Zenor is claiming she has a rare medical condition that causes someone to become intoxicated without drinking alcohol. It’s called A-B-S or Gut Fermentation Syndrome.
The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports an Ohio doctor says Zenor has it. Medical studies indicate when patients with A-B-S eat carbohydrates, the carbs can interact with yeast in the intestines and produce ethanol.
Gut Fermentation Syndrome was first diagnosed in a five year old child in 1947. Fewer than 100 cases have been diagnosed worldwide, over half of them in Japan.
PENCE IN IOWA
Former Vice President Mike Pence was back in Iowa,a day after a federal judge ruled Pence must testify before a grand jury investigating January 6th and former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Pence says while he’s currently talking to legal counsel about the decision, he has nothing to hide and has written and spoken extensively about that day and the days leading up to it.
Pence drew the largest crowd of the year at the Westside Conservative Club in central Iowa Wednesday morning.
He told the audience the final days of the Trump-Pence Administration did not end well, but Pence says he and former President Trump had a very good working relationship for four years as they pursued the same agenda for America.
Pence made a midday stop in Cedar Rapids and was the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for Johnson County Republicans.
LOCAL ETHANOL PRODUCTION
The CEO of a Marcus-area ethanol plant says they’ve been able to weather the pandemic and remain a vibrant business.
Steve Roe, the CEO of Little Sioux Corn Processors, says covid created conditions where production levels rose and fell.
But they bounced back.
Plants in other parts of the country had a tougher go.
Production levels at Little Sioux recovered, just not to pre-covid levels.
That’s because the pandemic caused a change in fuel consumption patterns.
Roe says the current move by midwest Congressmen to allow E-15 sales year round affects retailers more than ethanol producers. Allowing year round E-15 sales will act to encourage more retailers to invest in expanding E-15 sales.
INFLATION AND RURAL IOWA
An Iowa State University study shows inflation is hitting rural residents harder that those in urban areas. Professor David Peters, a rural sociologist for I-S-U Extension and Outreach, says inflation has cut rural discretionary incomes by over a third, that’s essentially the leftover money after paying your bills and taxes. Discretionary income is critical, he says, for handling unexpected or emergency expenses. Peters says rural households paid an extra 300-dollars per month because of inflation in 2021, but the urban-rural gap in additional expenses was modest, around 15-dollars a month. When transportation costs shot up in early 2022, largely due to higher gas prices, he says rural households felt it more. For the first two-thirds of the year, inflation cost rural households at least an extra 450-dollars per month, which is 60-to-90 dollars more than urban households.
PROPERTY VALUES RISE
New property tax valuations are starting to go out and some people may suffer sticker shock when they see the increase. Sioux City Assessor, Tyler Erickson, says they have to do the valuations every two years to ensure valuations are within five percent of market value.
Erickson describes the ways they measure your home’s value.
He says the market adjustment ensures your home is being valued based on the sale of homes in your neighborhood that are comparable in cost. Erickson says your taxes don’t automatically go up the same about as the assessed value because there is a state rollback.
Erickson says they are already getting calls from upset homeowners after assessments went out. He says you can appeal and should look at the comparable home sales in your neighborhood to see how much difference there is between the valuation and area sales.
NEW DEPARTMENT HEAD
Governor Kim Reynolds has appointed former State Auditor Mary Mosiman to lead the Iowa Department of Revenue. Mosiman has been the Iowa Department of Revenue’s deputy director and head of its tax division since 2019. Mosiman is a certified public accountant and served as Story County Auditor for a decade. She was working as a deputy in the Iowa Secretary of State’s office in 2013 when Governor Terry Branstad appointed Mosiman to serve as state auditor. She won a full term as state auditor in 2014, but lost her 2018 race for reelection. Mosiman took over as head of the Iowa Department of Revenue Wednesday.
HALT LOAN FORGIVENESS
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is joining the chorus of Republicans who are working to dismantle President Biden’s proposal to eliminate student loan debt. Grassley says the plan would unfairly transfer the burden of paying 400-billion dollars from the original borrowers onto the backs of all taxpayers nationwide. Grassley says the nation’s budget and fiscal health have been in decline since Biden took office, and he says members of Congress took action Monday which they hope can put a stop to the “lunacy.” Grassley was among 40-some senators who introduced a resolution to overturn the loan forgiveness plan. The administration says more than 400-thousand Iowa borrowers are eligible for student loan forgiveness.