Sexton moves to put freeze on eminent domain

Distracted driving, bottle bill also discussed at forum

Legislation co-sponsored by state Rep. Mike Sexton would temporarily stop companies from taking land in Iowa through the process of eminent domain to build carbon dioxide pipelines.

The Republican from Rockwell City outlined his proposal to put a moratorium on the use of eminent domain until Feb. 1., 2023, during an Eggs and Issues forum Saturday in Fort Dodge. He said the state House of Representatives has passed it and sent it to the Senate.

During the same forum, state Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Ford Dodge, talked about the struggle she faces trying to pass a bill that would ban drivers from using electronic devices like phones unless they are in a hands-free mode.

The Republican leadership of the House, she said, doesn’t want to move the bill because the Senate apparently will not consider it. She vowed to keep trying.

”This isn’t going to go away for me,” she said.

State Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, reported that lawmakers will be working on a roughly $8.2 billion budget as they move to wrap up this year’s legislative session.

”I will be in major budget mode,” said Kraayenbrink, who is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

And state Sen. Jesse Green, R-Boone, gave an update on potential changes to the state law on recycling cans and bottles.

About 30 people attended the forum in the Bioscience and Health Sciences Center at Iowa Central Community College. Eggs and Issues is sponsored by the college and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Eminent domain

At least two proposals to build carbon dioxide pipelines across Iowa have been introduced. Those pipelines would take carbon dioxide from ethanol plants and move it to underground storage sites.

The pipeline companies may want to use eminent domain to acquire property from owners who are unwilling to sell it. When eminent domain is used, a panel of appraisers is appointed to determine the value of a piece of property. The company then pays the landowner that amount and takes the property.

Sexton and state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, drafted an amendment that bars the use of eminent domain by the pipeline companies until Feb. 1, 2023. If it becomes law, the two legislators will work this summer on a bill regulating the use of eminent domain that would be introduced next year.

The amendment awaits action in the Senate. Green said he would support it.

Sexton said the followup measure would define things like the use of eminent domain for the public good vs. private purposes. He said it would also set out how much of a project would have to be done before eminent domain could be used to acquire property.

”It’s not as easy as saying you just can’t use eminent domain,” he said.

On Saturday, Sexton also questioned the reasoning for building carbon dioxide pipelines.

”This whole carbon issue of taking carbon dioxide and putting it in a pipeline and pushing it across the country — there’s not very much research that says this is the right thing to do,” he said.

According to Sexton, pipeline advocates say the projects will reduce the carbon footprint of ethanol production. But he said the research doesn’t support that.

He said that attempts to reduce carbon dioxide output are handcuffing American businesses while industries in China and India continue to release it with no restrictions.

”They could give a rat’s crap about carbon dioxide,” he said.

Distracted driving

For three years, Meyer has attempted to pass legislation making it illegal to use electronic devices while at the wheel unless they are in hands-free mode. Her bill calls for $100 fines for violations.

She said the danger posed by drivers distracted by their devices is as bad as the dangers posed by drunk drivers.

Meyer said Saturday that she recently had an hour and half discussion with the House Republican leadership about moving the bill forward.

”My understanding is the Senate won’t take it up so the House won’t pass it,” she said.

She said Saturday that her bill would pass the House if it was brought up for a vote.

”I have enough votes in my chamber,” she said.

Green and Kraayenbrink said they would vote for the bill.

”Why not let a bill hit the floor and let legislators do their jobs?” Green asked.

Bottle bill

For about 40 years, Iowa has had a law imposing a 5-cent deposit on beer and soda bottles and cans. When consumers return the bottles and cans for recycling, they get the 5 cents back. This law is commonly called the bottle bill.

Green said a bill before the Senate Ways and Means Committee would give can and bottle redemption centers three cents for every container they take in. Those centers now get one cent per container.

The bill would also reduce the state excise tax paid by beverage distributors and wholesalers. Green said if the bill becomes law, Iowa would have one of the 10 lowest excise taxes in the nation.

”All the different parties that are impacted by the bottle bill have come together for this agreement,” he said.


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