School of Urban and Regional PlanningThe University of IowaGraduate College

Legislative News

This section of the RIO site keeps readers informed of current legislation in Iowa as it pertains to land use planning and other related issues. It provides a brief description of relevant bills pending or passed during the 2016 Legislative Session, while links to each bill are made available for further reading. The bills listed here have been identified by the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association as important to planning in Iowa.

Economic Development

HSB639 relates to Iowa’s urban renewal law and use of the tax increment finance (TIF) tool. The bill bans the use of revenue from new urban renewal plans or projects for public buildings that are tax exempt, sets a sunset year of 2036 for all current economic development TIF districts, sets a sunset year of 2041 for any current slum and blight TIF district, limits new economic development districts to 20 years, and limits new slim and blight districts to 25 years. APA Iowa opposes an all-out ban on the restriction of TIF for future public buildings.  

SF2229 – Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program is a bill creates a community catalyst building remediation program and fund, administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). The bill would provide funding for IEDA to award grant funds, via a competitive scoring process, to cities for the purposes of remediation of underutilized buildings. The bill requires that at least 40 percent of the funds be available to communities under 1,500, though funds not claimed following each application period may be awarded to any approved city regardless of population. This bill, which APA Iowa supports, was passed by the Senate on March 2. 

Environmental Policy

SF2029 concerns the installation and use of solar energy systems. Specifically, the bill would prohibit a city or county from adopting an ordinance or regulation that restricts the installation, operation, or use of solar energy systems unless the ordinance preserves or protects public health and safety, does not significantly increase the cost of the system or decrease its efficiency, or allows for alternative installation, operation, or use of solar energy. The bill also makes it a nuisance to obstruct a solar energy system on nearby or adjoining property after a solar energy system has been installed. APA Iowa is in favor of renewable energy yet will seek language clarifications in the bill to ensure the proposed state legislation will not conflict with existing local ordinances. 

Planning, Zoning, and Housing Policy


Transportation Policy

SF2076 would require the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a person riding a bicycle going in the same direction to pass on the left in an adjacent travel lane or on the opposite side of the roadway unless the bicycle in traveling in a paved shoulder or designated bicycle lane. This expands and clarifies existing law requiring a vehicle passing a bicycle to do so at “a safe distance.” APA Iowa supports this bill.